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Tackle Corruption in Education Sector now, Group warns Nigeria

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By Eric Ojo
Nigeria's Education minister (state) Nyesome Wike

Nigeria’s Education minister (state) Nyesome Wike

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) an Abuja-based non-governmental advocacy group has called for concerted efforts in Nigeria to tackle the pervasive corruption in the education sector of the economy.

The group warned that the level of corruption in the nation’s education sector demands immediate intervention by the government and all relevant stakeholders in order to secure the future of Nigerian youths.
CISLAC noted that the youths are the future leaders of tomorrow and that if the educational system which should prepare the youths during their formative years for better future is reeking of corruption, the need for concerted efforts towards sanitizing the system therefore becomes imperative.
The Centre which is non-profit legislative advocacy, lobbying, information sharing and research organization, lamented that the Nigerian educational sector has become an open field harbouring corrupt practices that rankles among players such as policy makers, bureaucrats in various educational ministries and school officials responsible for the school management, parents and students.
The sector, according to the group, is marked by infrastructural decays, inefficient and poorly skilled teachers, and dilapidated school structures, fuelled by general apathy by government to education, adding that the quality of education students received under this dreadful atmosphere is highly appalling. The Centre added that some schools’ principals and teachers engage machineries improve their schools’ academic performance in the examinations while affluent students go to the examination council/board to buy high grades.
CISLAC further disclosed that some unscrupulous lecturers force students to buy hand-outs as criteria for passing their course and administrative staff also compound issues for students by withholding students’ results to force their hands to bride or show appreciation to them before their results can be released, adding that unethical behaviour in the school has forced female students into prostitution, as they use their bodies to lure lecturers for favours, while male students resort to cultism as a means of protection and some students pay bribe to be given admission to universities. This, the group said, begs the question of the quality of Nigeria future leaders.
The group lamented that the standard fallen to the extent that the minimal score for Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), has drastically dropped to 180 as against 200 out of 400 total score in the years back. “It is an open secret that students hire machineries to pass standard examinations in secondary schools. Invigilators are also not left out in this gruesome cesspool of corruption; as they are rumoured to be paid to enable machineries write exams for students”, the group said in a  statement signed by its Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, to mark this year’s World Teachers’ Day.
The Centre also observed that the Nigerian government has, in the last three decades, systematically neglected the sector, adding it  can be presently considered to be near comatose as it suffers incessant strike actions from Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), students union and labour union. It equally noted that on regular basis, national and state governments cut down on educational funds making education appear unimportant to economic growth.
It further explained that while the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for instance, recommends 26 per cent  budgetary allocation to the education sector but in reality education sector receives less than 4 per cent budgetary allocation in Nigeria. This, the group further explained varies from one state to another.
The group also noted that the troubling realization is that the government allocates more money to ex-militants than any other sector including education, adding that the government’s apathy to education practically justified the reason for looting of the education funds and that from all indications, the inculcation of knowledge appears no longer the primary focus for being an educator anymore in the country.
“As the world marks World Teachers’ Day today it becomes pertinent for Nigerians to have a sober reflection on where we got it all wrong and put mechanisms in place to retrace our footsteps. We therefore call on Nigeria to join hands with other world bodies as Transparency International (TI) launches Global Corruption Report: Education, to put our house in order and safeguard the lives of our future leaders”, the statement further stated.
The statement also called on the Federal Government to immediately resolve the impasse between it and ASUU by honouring the agreement reached between it and the Union since 2009, adding that if the government can stop wastage and duplication, the N100 billion annual requests by ASUU should not be a burden to a government that claims to have interest in improving educational standard in the country.
It further advised that pre-emptive measures should be taken to tackle futuristic industrial actions, adding that young people should not be subjected to needless long term idleness resulting from frequent face-off between the academic staff union in both federal and state universities like the on-going one which has not only disrupted school activities but also kept university students at home for the past 92 days and still counting.
The statement also urged Federal and State Governments to exhibit some element of professionalism in the establishment and registration of schools at the basic and secondary levels, noting that proprietors of private schools should be those that studied Education courses in the tertiary institutions and that their certificates/professional registration certificates with the proposed TCN should be a major criterion.
It further called on the Federal Government to take adequate steps to establish a National Commission for Secondary Education (NCSE), as Secondary Education component of the nation’s educational system remains the only component without a Commission. This proposed Commission, it said, will perform, in the secondary education system, similar functions the National Universities Commission (NUC) is performing as quality assurance agency on the Universities.
The statement equally called for policy change in the management of the Federal Unity Colleges (FUCs), suggesting that their management should be removed from the Basic and Secondary Education Department of the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) and put under the proposed NCSE.
“It has been found out that most of the shortcomings noticed with the FUCs are traceable to the FME. The appointment of their Principals should be tenured and teachers in a particular College should be made to partake in the process that will produce the Principal from among themselves through voting. There is the need to bridge the infrastructural gap between the FUCs and state government schools in the country. While it is agreed that FUCs are models for secondary education, state secondary schools should be modeled close to the FUCs in terms of infrastructure and equipment”, it stressed.
It also harped on the need for better accountability on the part of school administrators, parents and student, adding that disciplinary measures must be taken to curb the rising nature the impunity in the school system and called on students to eschew violence and uphold peace for a better tomorrow.
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