Among a group of young men gathered in a barber’s shop, the other day, as I had a hair-cut, the topic of the conversation was how to gain admission into the institution of higher learning to acquire basic knowledge and be awarded a degree certificate.
One among them said: “Why would I waste my time in the four walls of a university for four, maybe five or six years, strike inclusive to obtain a sheet of paper called certificate”? The easiest way, as he reckoned, was to visit Oluwole and within minutes, you have a certificate at hand to brandish as a graduate and gain employment with.
Without mincing words, education is the key to unlock success in today’s society. Hence, it has become everyone’s desire to acquire a moderate qualification in any field of endeavour. It is, however, disheartening to say that many unscrupulous persons, like the young man in the barber’s shop, in their desperate quest to reap where they did not sow, are ready to go at any length to achieve their aim.
Such is the case in point, as recently reported in Cross River State, over certificate scam, where a head teacher was demoted to a gateman and a security man equally became a teacher.
Over the years, the decay in the education sector has been alarming and a lot has been cited as the cause. Of course, teachers with fake certificates are not without a share of the blame, as they cannot give what they do not have. More so, paucity of funds and the inconsistency of the education system among others have contributed to the decadence.
It is, indeed, a shame to also note that, what the colonialists and the missionaries bequeathed that produced our first generation leaders and majority of the current leaders and the elite today, unfortunately, have been destroyed. Each administration decides to introduce its own ‘perfect’ education system, thereby, truncating what is already on the ground. Indeed, the lip service paid to the education sector by successive governments is the cause of what we have today. In no distant time, another system will either be introduced or a step backward would be taken to embrace an earlier dumped system.
One major problem that confronts the education sector like a plague is the dearth of teachers. There is no commensurate number of “good” teachers to cater for the large population of pupils. And, as if that is not enough, there are incessant strikes by teachers both in the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions which truncate the academic calendar leading to graduating half-baked students.
Perhaps, the “Change” mantra and the fight against corruption of the Muhammadu Buhari administration have no meaning to Stephen Odey, Chairman of Universal Basic Education Board in Cross River State (SUBEB) who was recently reported to have said: “We got a lot of petitions from stakeholders intimating us about the presence of teachers in the system who are using fake certificates and we had to embark on a screening of the teachers across the state and what we saw was unbelievable…if we sacked all the teachers with fake certificates, the crime rate in the state will increase and also, the governor of the state believes that there should be food on the table of everyone in the state.”
There are some fundamental questions in need of answers here. First, I sympathise with the SUBEB board for toying with the future of the state’s young generation. Everyone knows that, nurturing the brain at an early age is good for the economy and country in general. It is, therefore, disheartening to learn that the person who is supposed to nurture and impact knowledge, in this case the teacher, is one who is brandishing a fake certificate. And the education board whose responsibility is to drastically punish the offenders is providing a haven for criminality because the governor of the state wants food on everyone’s table!
It is intriguing to note that most people, especially the youths, desire to make omellete without breaking eggs. No wonder, their penchant for the fast lane, their quest to make quick money leads them into kidnapping, advance-fee-fraud, obtaining fake certificate, prostitution, robbery and among others.
Allowing certificate forgers to get away with a pat on the shoulder is unacceptable. The government should do more to bring Nigeria’s education to its old glory. Whether we like it or not, life consists of a number of opportunities and they do not come knocking on people’s door, we have to work hard for it.
There seems to be greedy interest groups within the educational system whose misguided ideology has led education to a point where it cannot help the nation. This trend must be corrected.