Early this year, I did a psychoanalysis of public education in Katsina. In it, I tried to burgle into the psyche of the government and other stakeholders’, in relation to the sector. I studied how consciously or unconsciously the forces interacted to create the problem we today deal with. I had thought then that I would need to revisit the sector no more, since all the problems had come on the surface and until some new approach is introduced, it will continue to be the same story whenever discussion about it comes up.
But as regard this mock examination, one feels compelled to pay attention, if not for nothing, but the two powerful views being expressed about it so far. On one hand is the public’s reaction that insinuates that the outcome of the exam was preconceived by the government so as to avoid payment of SSCE fees for the students – presumably to cut cost, since there is ‘no money’, according to most government narrations. On the other hand, is the government’s public relation managers’ attempt to push the blame back to students and the society at large.
First and foremost, what we should investigate to unravel precisely the problem and who takes what blame is, the standard being used in conducting the exam. Because, if the standard is designed from within the realities defining the current state of the sector in the state, there would not, definitely, have been massive failure as alleged. But if otherwise was the case, then unprecedented failure is certain. Everybody would agree with me that it’s not the students’ fault to not have lived above what the system could offer. In essence, they couldn’t give what they were not given. You can’t measure someone’s performance outside the standard of the system in which he operates.
On the government’s line of argument, to begin with, is a self indictment at best. I know they will quickly appeal with us to be considerate of what they have inherited, although government is a continues business, regardless of who is driving. The fact that this administration had conducted the exam on two consecutive occasions, and massive failure in the region of 90% was recorded, is enough reason to inform us that, they are bad managers. Improvement is much expected from any good manager in his second outing.
Pushing the blame back to the public can’t be a refined idea either. We have heard of cases in which students expected to pass the exam, had failed. Of what impact would have been our inputs then, when not even the teachers’ could make 50% of the students to pass? Public’s role in the sector, whatever it should be, should be defined and guided by the government’s plan and implementation strategy; because any contribution going in has to align with the government’s plan – else, it create a significant degree of confusion.
Making the sector open and inclusive (for public participation) in planning and management, will make the public partly responsible for whatever success or failure recorded therein. But when the plan (if there is any) is made a private property of the government, how could the public know what is required of them? We can’t rationalise building and rehabilitation of schools as critical, only to turn radical with students affairs as a way of cutting cost. Less politics and utmost transparency, not money or victimisation, will make the sector work.
Forcing this number of youths to dropout, whatever the reason is, should rise the consciousness of the whole society to call the government to order. I much expected traditional institutions, State House of Assembly and Katsina elders to intervene. Because at this time we are faced with all types of youth restiveness, we can’t afford to have these youths added to the fold. Strong feeling of victimisation and social marginalisation is fast getting into the psyche of this group and is not healthy for our progress.
As we today blame past leaders for whatever problem our youths have become, so this government will be blamed in future for creating a monster that might take us a century back, if poorly managed. When Borno people warned Kaduna’s last week, they knew well what they were talking about. As it’s a law in Physics, to there be reaction for every action, so it’s in social studies. If it is about cutting cost, we will spend 100 times the amount in future to contain the likely social convulsion.
You don’t need to take radical stand to turnaround a sector, except there is something wrong with your plan and implementation strategy. This kind of thinking doesn’t belong to this century. It has to be smart and systematic, since the decay is deep and not a day occurrence. That’s what differentiates military rules and democratic governments. While the former is about solving problems through command and control, the letter employ creative thinking to solve most complicated of problems — and more often they reserve a rare ability to turn challenges into opportunities. Allah Rayan Jahar Katsina
Twitter Handle: @BabaBala5