With the announcement of the suspense-filled portfolios of Ministers last Wednesday (11/11/2015), it emerged that the first man in the Nigerian education sector today is the man named after the first man ever created (i.e. Adam), Mallam Adamu Adamu.
While the announcement was met with jubilation by those who know the mettle of the Minister, others less discerning sneered and questioned the rationale behind giving the all-important education portfolio to a man that is not known to parade our fanciful, highfalutin academic degrees or titles.
Well, I am not among those who think that paper qualifications are determinants of brilliance and intellectualism. This was why on May 14, 2014, I zeroed in on George Carlin’s inspiring “the paradox of our time” message to highlight “More Degrees, Less Sense” in this space.
Part of the paradox of our time is that we have more knowledge but less judgement, more experts but more problems, more medicine but less wellness, more books but more ignorance. How will many books translate to knowledge where many people cannot differentiate between real education and mere schooling? This is the point Prof. Pat Utomi was stressing when he said last week that many so-called educated Nigerians are “certificated illiterates”.
When one is intelligent or talented, one is. I believe the current Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who studied Accounting but writes with the ardour of a literary giant and consummate scientist is a bundle of talents, a freshener that can sanitise the air. I have only met him through his writings and his detractors would even attest to his “intellectual prowess.”
As many Nigerians don’t read much, it would be easy for simple minds to assume that a cerebral writer and consummate journalist in Mallam Adamu would not be able to steer the Education Ministry. I strongly believe he has all it takes as a pilot of the change needed in the sector, which is fraught with systemic problems.
If truth is constant, I will repeat the same suggestion in the interview I granted the “Sunday Punch” newspaper on July 5, 2015. If Mallam Adamu can at least make part of it a policy guideline, he will no doubt leave his mark on the Nigerian education terrain.
It is well-known that our schools are populated by those who have no business with being there as teachers. There are teachers who have no confidence in themselves, who consider teaching a stop-gap measure pending the opening of other opportunities. The Nigerian mentality is that when one does not have anything else to do, one can go into teaching. Little wonder that some teachers cannot use the “bottom of a bottle” to inscribe letter ‘O’ and our pupils are sometimes as daft as their teachers!
In this regard, let teaching be made lucrative such that brilliant folks will want to pursue careers in it. One way of doing this is to mop up all the unemployed First Class and Second Class Upper Division graduates and get them into our classrooms for a start. Their salaries should be at par with their colleagues in the tertiary education sector.
Then, there should be a policy of encouraging academic excellence. The development of a nation is directly proportional to its education yet many young people don’t think so. Due to the dynamics of our dysfunctional society, education has been turned to a mere waste of time. There are more musicians, more comedians, more dancers, more actors and actresses all serving as role models to the youths. They get all the attention, the glamour and the gifts, not scholars, not inventors.
The idea of literary and debating societies, press clubs, educational excursions and inter-school quiz competitions should be brought back to our schools. More digital technologies should be developed and deployed to the promotion of learning and academic development. Universities are not magic centres and we have to get it right from the rear.
Ultimately, there should be massive investment in the education sector. Fortunately, this is a point that the Minister understands very well. In his article, “Why ASUU is always on strike (II)”, published on November 15, 2013, the current Education Minister deplored the “very I-don’t-care attitude to higher education” among us, showing how Nigeria spends less than one percent of its Gross National Income on a sector on which Ghana spends 2.85%, Egypt 3.9%, Zimbabwe 5.4% and South Africa 7%.
Mallam Adamu is definitely a round peg in a round hole and all he needs to do is to hit the ground running because time is short and the damage done already is much.