17 November 2012

Nigeria: Prioritizing Education to 'Subsidize' Corruption in the Country


We continue this week with the critical challenge of unqualified teachers, which as it seems for now, would continue to saturate the education system particularly at the basic level as long as there is absence of a mechanism to motivate qualified teaches to remain in the job. Many of those who possess teaching qualification use teaching as a stepping stone to other jobs where they would earn better pay. This certainly accounts for the large number of unqualified teachers both in public and private schools.

Daily Trust edition of Wednesday October 17, 2012 carried a news story on page 4 in which the Minister of State for Education Nyesom Wike is reported to have disclosed to executives of the NUT that government has no funds to pay the N1.4 billion it owed teachers who participated in the 2011 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) teachers training programme. The NUT had accused the National Teachers Institute (NTI) of allegedly defrauding teachers of N1.4 billion by paying them N2, 500.00 instead of N14, 000 for the 8-day training programme. For more than two months at the beginning of the 2010/2011 academic session, for example, public primary school teachers in the FCT were on strike over the non-payment of their monetization arrears for 22 months.

While speaking at a news conference to mark this year's World Teachers' Day, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Benue State, Anya Godwin, appealed to state government to include teachers among those to benefit from the N18, 000 minimum wages, which workers in the state except teachers have been enjoying for the past one year.

The failure by relevant authorities to professionalize teaching in Nigeria in addition to the deliberate neglect of teachers' welfare by all tiers of government have had their negative impact on the sector. High failure rate in school certificate examination has remained a recurring decimal in recent years. For instance, only 1.8 percent of the candidates that sat for the Nov/Dec SSCE conducted by NECO in 2009 obtained credit passes in five subjects and above, including English and Mathematics.

Rather than epitomizing excellence, many universities in Nigeria have become 'Storehouse of Vices' where aberration instead of perfection remains the norm. The crises in Nigerian universities revolve around blatant abuse of process in student admissions, manipulation and falsification of academic records, bastardization of accreditation guidelines, sexual harassment, syndicated plagiarism, irregularities in the appointment and promotion of staff, violation of project administration and procurement laws, and running of un-approved study centres. The corrupt among Vice Chancellors become their institutions' purchasing officers and hall administrators in the allocation of hostel accommodation to students; ignoring issues that are critical to the survival of the system.

The poor state of education has led to 'educational tourism'; a new trend among children of Nigerian elites. According to Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, a senior colleague and Daily Trust columnist, mentioned in his piece of October 31, 2011 that "In Ghana alone, we have 71,000 Nigerian students paying 155 billion naira to the Ghanaian economy;...The total budget for all the Nigeria's federal universities is 121 billion naira, less than what Nigerian parents pay in Ghana alone".

To conclude this discourse, the national Assembly has a duty to expunge conjured parts of budget proposals presented to it by the Executive; ensuring that intervention funds from donor agencies are appropriately captured. Nigerians equally expect them to use their legislative instruments to compel the Executive to appropriate more funds for infrastructural development in the education sector. Lawmakers should also check leakages in the sector to ensure that funds appropriated are expended for the purposes they were meant. May Allah (SWT) touch the hearts of our leaders and guide them against prioritizing education to 'subsidize' corruption in order to rescue the sector from the catastrophic collapse that is starring it in the face, amin.

The new Hijrah year 1434 AH:

Today is the third day of the first month, Muharram, of the new Islamic year. As the Islamic year begins, it is important for us to get acquainted, as Muslims, with monetary Zakkat worked out in accordance with the current value of the naira. According to figures published recently, the minimum taxable amount (Nisab) upon which 2.5% is payable as Zakkat for the year 1434AH is put at N736,067.00 only, which should be the current value of 20 pieces of gold (dinar). Minimum dowry (Sadaq) payable in 1434AH before a marriage can be contracted as well as the least theft of property that can attract amputation of a hand stands at N9, 201.00 only which is the value of money that can buy a quarter of a dinar. Compensation for manslaughter which should be the value of one thousand pieces of gold is given as N33, 803,303.00 only for 1434AH.

Fasting on Tasu'ah and Ashura days:

The Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) recommends for believers to observe voluntary fast on the 9th (Tasu'ah) and 10th (Ashura) of the first month, Muharram, of the Islamic year. For this year (1433AH); the 9th and 10th of Muharram would respectively be equivalent to Friday November 22, 2012 and Saturday November 23, 2012.

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