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Wednesday 13 August 2014
MASS FAILURE IN WASSCE MAY/JUNE 2014
A Reflection of the Failure of Government Neo-Liberal and Anti-Poor Education Policies
Just like previous examinations, this year's West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) recorded a dismal failure with just 31.28% of the 529, 425 candidates obtaining credits in five subjects including Mathematics and English.
The failure has been described variously as "massive". In our view at the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), this result is nothing short of an absolute disaster.
However, far from being the fault of the individual candidates, this disastrous result is a reflection of the failure of the anti-poor and capitalist neo-liberal policies of education underfunding and commercialization by government at all levels in the country.
Government at all levels has pursued a relentless policy of starving public education of funds such that public secondary and primary schools across the country have become devastated with little or no teaching infrastructures such that no useful learning are taking place. Where funds are released through budgetary allocations, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) schemes and others, they are routinely siphoned and mismanaged by politicians, officials of the Education Ministry and the UBE, contractors as well as the appointed heads of schools. The cumulative result of all this is the recurrent mass failure that we are experiencing in external examinations as well as the decline in the quality and standard of education generally.
We place the blame for this failure on the shoulders of the President Jonathan Federal Government as well as the State Governors whose anti-poor education policies are mortgaging the future of the Nation's youth.
If President Jonathan government is any serious, this recurrent mass failure should serve as a wakeup call to inject more public funds, starting with the UNESCO recommendation of at least 26% of annual budget, into rehabilitating public schools and providing all the required facilities and infrastructures required in a 21st century education sector. All schools must be placed under democratic management such that teachers, parents, the pupils and communities have a say in how funds are utilized and on which projects unlike the present practice where appointed school heads and principals rule with impunity.
This should be followed immediately by a declaration of free education at all levels and an immediate step to improve the wages and conditions of teachers and a program to begin the retraining of teachers in service and employment of more hands to bridge the yawning teacher: pupil ratio.
The Colleges of Education which are the training grounds for teachers have to be better funded and provisioned as the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) have been demanding for years. A general improvement in the wages and conditions of teachers will immediately attract the best hands into the sector while the non-discriminatory improvement and upgrade in the facilities of all public primary and secondary schools whether located in rural areas or cities will ensure that teachers are not discouraged from accepting transfer to certain schools for reasons of their location.
None of the steps itemized above are impossible. Nigeria is more than capable, by virtue of the inestimable resources and wealth at her command, to reposition public education within the next few years. If these enormous resources at the command of the Nation are publicly and judiciously managed and ploughed into pro-working people social programs, much of the developmental problems of the Nation including the crises of public education can be surmounted in a few years.
Unfortunately capitalist politicians of the likes of President Jonathan, the 36 State governors and that of the Federal Capital Territory reside in a planet far apart from the people they rule. By virtue of their access to our collective wealth, these elements can afford to send their own children to expensive private schools within and outside the country such that they have little or no motivation to clean up the mess which their failed neo-liberal policies have created in the public education sector.
Further hampering the possibility of repositioning public education in Nigeria is the system of capitalism which all political parties in power at Federal and State levels subscribe to. By virtue of its prioritization of profit over people's needs, capitalism is the greatest obstacle to the possibility of harnessing and utilizing Nigeria's enormous wealth to transform public education and banish mass poverty. This is why the ERC canvasses for a socialist transformation of Nigeria such that the key sectors of the economy are publicly owned and democratically managed to ensure that the collective wealth of Nigeria is utilized for the repositioning of public education and other social amenities.
To achieve this requires the building of a powerful mass movement to fight against anti-poor education policies and a workers political party to take political power. These are the twin focus of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) in the present period and it is why we are actively in support of the formation of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM).
Hassan Taiwo Soweto
Education Rights Campaign (ERC)
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