Tag Archives: Education

NI MA NA YARDA: A Pro-Education State of Mind

I woke up to an auspicious morning. Then I thought about it, realized it must have been a dream. But then I remembered that I did in fact wake up earlier and what I read may have not been a dream, even though it fits well in a dream.

I read that a legislator from Katsina State has withdrawn his children from a private school and enrolled them into a public school. Nigerians are such satirical people, so perhaps I should not pay it attention… but then I realized it was posted by a “serious” person Auwal S. Anwar. I know Auwal, although in no way lacking humour, holds this subject too dear to make a joke of it, especially because there was a picture that seemed to support his post. I checked the NI MA NA YARDA facebook group and found the legislator (Abdullahi I. Mahuta) himself had made a post.

The picture was of two children, and here is what I saw and read:

NI MA NA YARDA in Action!

These are Honourable Abdullahi I. Mahuta’s children, Imam and Muhammad, whom he removed from a private school in Kaduna State and enrolled in a public school in Katsina State. Mahuta is known for his campaigns on this issue. And we are all in it with him. Today he is upping the ante. Now the ball is in our court.

Well done, indeed he is earning the honour in honourable.

I was impressed with this move and wanted to share this information with people I know to be interested but found that it had not been publicised… YET. On Auwal’s suggestion (perhaps in jest), I decided to blog about it; but simply drawing from his writings. (I am glad to find out that someone will be writing a newspaper piece on the topic to do it justice, which I plan to link here)

Background

NI MA NA YARDA (literally: I also concur) is a concept/movement to recover the debilitating education system in Nigeria by becoming ACTUAL stakeholders. In its mild form, it calls for a more egalitarian education where education inequality is minimized by citizen action. In its strict form, an education policy that restricts public officials from enrolling their children in schools other than public schools. The logic is simple: those who influence education policy should do it as if they are doing it for their children… but since most have their children elsewhere, the policy would make it easier for them to “feel among”.

Teaching career has long been made the dumping ground for the societal miscreant and the unsuccessful. For the better among them, it is a temporary job before finding “greener pastures”. Even I recall in secondary school, teachers bragging about how they were better than their jobs and how circumstances have got them in it. Hausa people have a (very unfortunate) practice where they believe that the remedy to a societal miscreant is that he is wedded. It seems this philosophy is creeping into our public education; societal miscreants given a teaching job. Like I said, the aim of NI MA NA YARDA is simply to incentivize the influential into being ACTUAL stakeholders in public education.

Taken from a post on NI MA NA YARDA, here is some staggering information about Katsina State; the State our legislator is from. In 2011, “no single kobo” was released to the oldest highest institution in the state. Only 10% of allocated funds were released to Science and Technical Education board; and only about 16% was released for state-wide educational sector for capital expenditure. Corruption unaccounted for; the ACTUAL figure would be eroded to single-figure percentage.

Coincidentally, a past aspiring governor of the same Katsina State held similar ideas for the State; which may have meant mild (by example) and strict (by policy) implementations simultaneously. On the other hand, the Katsina State legislator is taking the first step of NI MA NA YARDA in its mild form, before embarking on its strict form.

I learnt Ogun State recently attempted to effect a similar policy but it was murdered by the legislature; not unlike Julius Caesar (It’s back stabbing to benefit from public education then kill its revival). Moments like these makes one crave for true federalism and politics based on ideology, for if these exist, the two legislators (whom I believe spearheaded the attempt) in Ogun State and the legislator in Katsina State could be peer-legislators (in same State) and speed up the change.

The Challenge

Organize and start participating. Two issues regarding its practicality are (and by no means exhaustive): whether doing so will have an effect; and whether it will destroy the education of your children. For the former, I suggest forming a local group (say 5-10 families) then enrolling into the same school so that there are enough qualified/influential parents monitoring school progress. For the latter, know that enrolling your child in public school does not exclude home tutorship (after all you don’t expect the changes in the school overnight).  It might be rough at first, but it is possible, just a little more creativity.

Kano State ought to start. I hear the new government is making it difficult to run private schools anyway, through high taxes. Better give it a go than to wake up to a state without private schools. (Money saved could be put into home tutorship. Wink wink)

Contact (to be updated):

http://www.facebook.com/groups/349400128471492/

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Interview with a Role Model

Some days ago, I happened to catch an interview with a representative of PTDF (Petroleum Technology Development Fund) on the radio. I reckon he is the head or a senior officer there. PTDF does a lot of projects to build capacity in Nigeria but it is most popular for its Overseas Scholarship Scheme (OSS).

The issue being discussed was that some candidates who are offered a local (non overseas) scholarship tend to decline the offer. I am not sure if its a full scholarship (tuition, accommodation and maintenance) or not but it seems it is. It also seems like some unsuccessful candidates of the OSS are offered the local scholarship. These uncertainties I am positing here will become clear (or irrelvant as the case may be) after you read the next section.

The Interview

Let us assume the speaker is the head of the PTDF. The following is what the speaker said (not verbatim) highlighting all the points I found interesting.

Speaker:

Our youths are hindered by grandiose ambitions. When they fail to get a chance to go overseas and study, they despair. They decline offers for lucrative local scholarship. These days everybody wants to go abroad and study. This generation dose not value education, they just want to live a fantasy life abroad. Let me tell you about my story which illustrates this point and hopefully, our youth can learn from it.

I graduated from a local university with a Bachelors degree. I applied for a Masters degree via scholarship in a prominent university in London called Imperial College. I was granted the scholarship… but it was a half scholarship. Therefore it covered only my tuition, I had to fund my accommodation and living expenses. I tried all my options but I could not raise the amount I needed to show as proof for visa application. And that was how I forfeited the scholarship.

I did not despair nor wallow. I applied for Masters at the university of Benin. I studied there and got awarded my Masters degree.

Twenty years later now I am in this office. I visit the UK often. We have a number of scholars we send to Imperial College every year. Now every time I visit Imperial College, the Vice Chancellor only need be informed I am around and he will come down to greet/meet me.

The lesson is simple. The same Imperial College which I couldn’t get into, is the same one that now treats me with so much respect when I visit. Don’t be disillusioned about going overseas. If you really want to study then your focus won’t be on overseas but on education.

The Lessons in Summary

  1. Power is good. Aim to get into a position of power; the type that may attract sycophancy.
  2. Focus on Education, not the temptations of being overseas. You can do that later. Be patient.

Three Things Wrong with the Anecdote

The gist of the anecdote is thematically covered in pride and conceit. The experience captured is contrary to the lesson youths are to derive from it. In fact the two lessons are not complimentary but almost antagonistic. However, when I tell these stories to people, many don’t seem to see the fault/inconsistencies in it because it is in a language that many Nigerians understand; conceit. Imagine how many listeners of the programs got encouraged by this “inspirational” story. This is the same language “leaders” propagate in Nigeria. The dialectics and discourse are in conceit-perpetrating cycle.

The second issue further buries the importance of quality education beneath the quest to achieve a certificate; aka Masters Degree. It should be noted that Imperial College is indeed one of the best universities one could hope to graduate from; a leading university in the world. The anecdote makes the simple equation that Masters in Imperial College is no better than Masters in University of Benin. Therefore encouraging the ubiquitous Nigerian attitude that a “degree is a degree”. I am not so much concerned with the name “Imperial College” on the certificate but rather on the academic environment one is exposed to at Imperial College.

The final defect of the anecdote is that it assumes that the Nigerian University System is stable and even healthy. In fact, the last nationwide university strike was called off a month (or two) ago. To be fair; he mentioned that because of the way the government has handled the latest strike, the universities are unlikely to go on strike for the next ten years. Given the Federal Universities’ precedence, every Nigerian has earned the right to dismiss such comments instantly.

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