The present state of facets of educational system in Osun State in the last six years, is an educationist’s nightmare with parents and students as a major casualty, reports ISAAC OLUSESI
BUT for the dictates of investigative journalism, writing on the state of education in Osun State has become quiet uninspiring and boring. Nearly twenty months after the take off of the University of Osun State, UNIOSUN, the verdict is that the multi-campus learning centre is a panicky measure, “a one-day wonder” that is still an educationist’s nightmare. Some explain away the university as a mere rationalization of political action hastily conceived and executed, others link the sorry state of the university to the state government’s free passion and insatiable thirst for indifference and antipathy.
The reporter’s journey to the satellite campuses of the university is not personally a delight. It was a hell on earth from the palace, Aafin Aalaoye of Ipetu-Ijesa enronte Ifofin quarters, stretch of thoroughfare to the dusty Etioni road that leads to a campus of the university, and the reporter was immediately confronted by a huge signboard at the gate, standing far and above any of the structures on ground in the campus.
Ipetu-Ijesa is a large expense of arable land, good weather and a population. The people are happy to plough the soil with their back-breaking holes and matchets, and the most prosperous natives have cars to cruise around. It is a rustic life but a life of blissful contentment. Everyone in the town knows where the services are available, everyone knows where to find the local shoe cobblers and the tailors who actually trained in the land but prefer to describe themselves as London-trained. This is the feature of Ipetu-Ijesa, a community in Oriade Local Government Council Area and home of the University’s college of education.
Because of the political interest that UNIOSUN is supposed to serve, not enough thought is given to the planning and execution. It serves political expediency, or so it seemed to the university planners, that each senatorial district should have a campus of the university. And really, all of them do. But in establishing the university, little or practically no consideration is given to other criticals or fundamentals that have now made UNIOSUN a peculiar malaise.
The reporter, who was also at the other campuses of the university at Ejigbo, Ikire, Ifetedo, Osogbo and Okuku, the homestead of Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, found out that the pace of infrastructural development is dictated by the riotous political interests of the governor. Consequently, these is more noise than expected achievements, and more promises than anticipated fulfillment. There are no public-spirited goals, save cheap political ends of the university, the scenario that makes sensible analysis and projection of the contribution of the university to the society apparently difficult, if not out rightly impossible.
The physical structures on the mult-campuses are not more than a few lecture halls that will soon be inadequate, rat nests staff quarters, and grandiose administrative blocks that confront visitors to the campuses. The gates in each of the campus are supported on both sides by perimeter fence that is only frontally completed. The level of construction of the structures, in all is dependent on the political servitude of the community to the whims and caprices of the governor.
The students are a major causality of the university owners’ planlessness. The students still take lectures like in a nomadic school in a scanty or sparsely nomadic settlement and the observed inadequacies in the academic programmes are expected because the UNIOSUN project was inaugurated when the inputs were still being made to validate it.
The fees payable by the students are widely condemned to be on the high side. Some of the students who spoke with the reporter described the state university as UNIOSUN PLC due its high fees. Student pay as high as N250,000 per session excluding several miscellaneous charges as they progress in their studies; the cut-throat fees actually scare many parents from allowing their wards to venture admission into the university.
Both the students and their parent are enveloped in nightmarish fears, the academic and administrative staff are visibly caught up in the webs of inconveniences, while the Vice-Chancellor and Provosts of the university’s colleges cruise around in a chauffeur-driven sleek cars issued to them by the state government to drive home the government’s claim to superlative preparedness for the university projects.
The evolution of UNIOSUN is a permanent reminder of the university’s violation of the philosophy of the revised National Policy on Education “integration of the individual into a sound and effective citizens” expounded by the men behind the policy formulation to mean that “education must seek to reach everyone in the society”.
But today in Osun State, the university can no longer be wished away though the students and their parents have been mortgaged to fund the building of the university.
At Osogbo main campus, the reporter found on ground, on ground, a gate house, fence, N10 classroom block, health centre, a 3-bedroom charlet, administrative block and studio apartment; at Ejigbo campus, a gate house, fence, health centre, a 3-bed-room charlet, and studio apartment; at Ikire campus, a gate house, fence, healthe centre, 8 classroom block, main building, studio apartment, and a 3-bedroom charlet; at Ipetu-Ijesa, gate house, fence, health centre, and a 3-bedroom charlet; and at Okuku, the main building, gate house, fence 1, fence 2, 8 classroom block, college building, administrative block, health centre, 3 bedroom charlet and a studio apartment.
ALTERNATIVES TO UNIVERSITY EDUCATION
The development of infrastructure in the state colleges of education, college of technology and the polytechnic, is found out to be highly determined by the level or degree of the ‘political love’ of the institutions’ host communities for the state governor. While all of them had varying type and number of laboratory equipment, medical equipment, computer units, educational technology equipment, vocational technology equipment, telecommunication equipment, sporting equipment, food science technology equipment, risograph digital equipment; not one of the tertiary institution in the state has had added capacity lecture theaters, office furniture for staff for improved teaching and research.
Quite a number of indispensable structures are still not available in these tertiary institutions. The books in the libraries are found to be inadequate, and in most cases unsuitable to the needs of the students. Science, the nursery of invention and technology has been handled with levity, with the libraries not shelving contemporary textbooks and research publications in science and technology.
Access roads and in-campuses road networks are very poor in all the state tertiary schools, with the perimeter fencing not yet fully in place in all these institutions. Abandoned blocks of classroom are everywhere in the schools, while alternative electricity, staff quarters are still a luxury for the tertiary institutions. Drinkable water is hard to come by, and at the polytechnic Iree where there is pure water” project, its mismanagement has made the venture fold up.
Promised of boreholes, deep wells, mini-water scheme from the state government have remained a mere promise for a total of 1,260 non-teaching staff, over 30,000 students and teaching staff (number not available) at the College of Technology Esa-Oke; for 1,320 non-teaching staff, over 40,000 student and teaching staff number, not known) at the State Polytechnic, Ire; for 219 non-teaching staff, 233 teaching staff and over 9,815 students at the College of Education, Ilesa; and 215 non-teaching staff,205 teaching staff, and over 9,56 students at the College of Education Ila-Orangun.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS
With a total number of 22,879 teacher in the state 330 secondary schools and 1,348 primary schools, teaching is done in a non-conducive environment, marked by recurring prolong strikes.
Until last week, negotiation between the striking teachers and the state government was characterized by tough- talking and distrust over the teachers, demand for payment of their Teacher’s Salary Scale, TSS as one trying to wrest as much concession as possible from the other.
Answering to questions from the reporter Engineer Rauf Aregbesola the Osun State Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate and arch challenger of Governor Oyinlola, said that teaching has become a profession in the proper etymological meaning of the word, He noted that the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has an admirable record of responsible trade unionism.
The reporter who went round the state schools discovered the deplorable state of teaching and learning. Teaching practice which is a practical exercise every student- teacher must undergo to be adjudged to have met the requirement for the award of a certificate or degree in education has been relegated to the background administration in the state.
Findings also showed that effective teaching which could only be guaranteed where adequate instructional in materials are provided and utilized is lacking in the schools in the state. A N2million contract awarded by the state government in 2004 and another of N3.5million in 2007 for supply of teaching aids to public secondary schools in the state, are contracts just on papers.
Teachers who spoke with the reporter stated that no such instructional materials ever arrived in any of the schools in the state. The relevance of teaching aids is that they simplify the work of the student-teacher and facilitate the learning process on the part of the students.
The instructional material are invaluable as they help to impart knowledge skills and attitude in the students, ensure active participation in teaching-learning process, and aid remembering of learned materials, and importantly the relevance of teaching aids lies in the aphorism: what I hear I forget, what is see I remember, and what I do I know.
Students in primary and secondary schools in the state who have just resumed after the teachers called off their strike, are found out by the reporter, to devote much of their time to social activities at the expense of their academic work, with profound implication for their performance in examinations. Student should be able to indentify their priorities among competiting obligations within the sphere of 24 hours by the reporter, what most students do is reading when it should be studying which is learning to gain knowledge from books, a detailed investigation of a subject.
Education in the state today is unfair to the exceptional children, children who deviates intellectually, physically, socially or emotionally and require modified teaching and environmental facilities to cater for their different exceptionalities. In Osun State, the School for the Handicapped in Osogbo, unfortunately has not had the attention of the government. The school operates with grossly inadequate special teaching materials and equipment, and special teaching technology.
A visit by the reporter to the school showed that the school is not operating in special class arrangement. Simple materials like learning aids, mirror, bold-print material, Braille type writers and projected chalkboard are conspicuously not on hand.
What government should do is to shop for teachers trained in special education methodology, create special class venues like a resource room, hospital room, or sheltered workshop, and provide facilities like wheel-chairs, crutches, bookrack, ramp, and rest areas could be provided for the orthopedically handicapped.
The important international declarations quoted in “Education in the Commonwealth” and “Special Education in the Developing countries of the Commonwealth”, emphasize the education of exception children: “The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition” Third Declaration of the Right of the Child.
The other declaration states that “Education programme should take into account the special problems of disabled children and young person and their need of opportunities equal to those of non-disabled children and young persons, to receive education and vocational preparation best suited to their age, abilities, aptitudes and interest” -International Labour Conference.
Quite a number of legislations favour the handicapped in Nigeria.
The 1948 Education Ordinance, 1954 Western Region of Nigeria’s Education Law, 1957 Lagos Education Act, 1962 Northern Nigerian statute, and several others advocated that children with mild or severe disabilities should be educated in special schools.
Special education for the disabled children if taken seriously in Osun State, will be giving real import to the notion of equality of educational opportunities irrespective of physical, mental or educational conditions.
However, in Osun State, education for the handicapped is hampered by inadequate or lack of adequate specialist teachers, and this problem has apparently forced the state government to make use of regular classroom teachers who lack competence and skills necessary to cope with the handicapped.
The situation is worsen by zero counseling provision available to the special students in the school that could help the disabled students overcome many obstacles that tend to limit them from realizing their full potentials, help them adjust psychologically and behaviorally to a variety of life process in role areas and in interpersonal relations.
Appraisal instrument which can yield data about the disabled child is not available in the School for the handicapped. Such appraisal, the reporter found out, will help the student understand himself and help the school authorities understand the student, his abilities, interest, aptitude and personality variables: information gained will facilitate more rational decision-making regarding the student’s education vocation and personality.
The new trend in vocational education is to provide the handicapped with contemporary education skills. The present day handicapped should acquire marketable skills in Electronics, Accounting, Computer Law, and so on.
However, it is the opinion of the experts that mainstreaming the handicapped into the regular education in which the student spend same amount of time with non-handicapped peers in regular classrooms, can be most effectively used for educating handicapped children in the universal Basic Education Programme that is now in vogue.
Educational technology which enhances competence of teachers and make learning more meaningful to children has not been fully applied in Osun educational system. Use of things like overhead projector, slide projectors, fallen projectors, tape recorder as players, computer assisted instructional devices, and other kinds of teaching machines, are still strange to schools generally in Osun state.
Most schools are still practicing hieroglyphics, picture writing, and use concrete like stones, pebbles, cowries, beads and sticks to promote classroom communication and learning. Though the new National Policy on Education requires that government will ensure that all schools are properly equipped to promote sound and effective teaching.
Another area for focus but which the government has not paid particular attention on is adult education. As a process that affords men and women relevant and desirable education, adult education increases individual capacity for economic development, and facilitates political and social changes in the society. In Osun state however, adult education in health, technology, socials, community development, and so on is treated as if it is not important for occupational efficacy. It is better for every child with a special need to be provided with appropriate educational programme regardless of the nature, etiology or prognosis of his educational needs.
INDISCIPLINE IN SCHOOLS
It is however found out that students performances in the state educational system do not meet up to the expectation of teachers, parents and the various examine bodies. The reporter was informed that group counseling, vocational counseling and group study can help improve performances level students.
General attitude of the students in the state secondary school is a reflection of the public behavior of the politicians put in charge of public affairs. Those entrusted with the task of leadership in the state are not seen providing disciplinary climate and exemplary life style essential to boosting that quality of self- controlling and directing in the students.
Undesirable acts like cheating in examination, certificate forgery, assault and insult, droping out, secret cultism, dishonesty, exams leakages, students unrest, bulling, fagging, arms, vandalism, games, lateness, illegal -noise making, stealing, apathy, smoking, gambling truancy, absentees’, fighting, drug abuse, defiance found among students are a result of institutional discipline within the government circle in the state.
The phenomena in the state schools have brought both the school authorities and government into disrepute. A disciplined government will necessarily be mirrored in the school management and students behaviour.
The reporter found out that both punitive and corrective measures can be a profound a solution to problems of indiscipline as are currently been encountered in the state schools. Attempts in the past at introducing use of detention, penalties like money fines, loosing test marks, non- promotion, physical force such as flogging, twisting the ears, knocking the head, and application of scolding, shaming, public embarrassment, manual labour during school as censure, have been found to be too punitive that yielded no expected behavior change. Parents and guardians who spoke with the reporter, would rather prefer emphasis on development of self- discipline.
STRATEGY FOR IMPROVEMENT
According to the parents and guardians, community interest groups and individuals should be mobilized to rally round and join hands with government in tackling the problems of education in the state.
For now the state government has failed, and the failure is found in the deterioration of infrastructural facilities, disappearance of the most rudimentary of instructional materials and equipment, a degradation of standards and the quality of the knowledge and learning imparted. As consequence, a large chunk of children are coming out of the state schools with neither practical nor intellectual skills as they are hardly thought and the school environment is uninspiring.
The children only learn within the square of the crumbling walls and blown off roofs. They have not quality books. Even where walls are still standing and roofs are on, classes are overcrowded. Teaching as is presently been managed by the state government, is degrading. It caries no social status or recognition such as is needed to motivate teachers and create a sense of commitment and devotion to the job.
The reporter spoke with some retired grade 1 principals, and they prescribed enforcement of standards and sanctions, inspection to schools from time to time, posting of principal be based on outstanding leadership qualities and strong moral character, their credentials be thoroughly scrutinized, and the views of the parents/Teachers Association be taken seriously into consideration in the running of schools.
Speaking with the reporter on phone, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, the Action Congress(AC0 Governorship candidate in Osun state opened up on his plans for education in the state “Our kind of education in Osun State will be education for economic value, education for social upward mobility, education for scientific technological advancement, and education for integration it is however saddening to observe that the situation as it is in the state whereby professionally qualified teachers are found unemployed, under-employed, or, idling away is counter-productive.
“Serving teachers found to be lacking the cognitive and technical skills, and competences will be provided with requisite sound knowledge desirable for effective teaching performance relevant to the quality of education we intend for Osun State.
“We will also encourage value clarification which is when teachers assist children identify their own personal and individual values, to help the pupils and students become more fulfilled and constructive members of the society.
Every child will have equal educational opportunity be exposed to programs that correspond to the contemporary educational needs of our youths in comprehensive secondary schools in order to bring to limelight the varied talents of the children aimed at elimination as much as practicable of existence social and economic inequalities. “Physical infrastructure, furniture, relevantly qualified teachers and curriculum will be uniformly made available to all school irrespective of their locations”, Aregbesola said.