By Muhammad Miftahuddeen Isa
The plight of secondary school students in government schools across Bauchi State is getting worse by the day, and their situation, if left unattended, would do a lot of harm to the future of the State.
Education is the key to civilization; it influences growth and frustrates mediocrity in thoughts and aspirations. It therefore becomes pertinent to inculcate the right mindset in students, teachers and those saddled with the responsibility of providing quality education to our brethren. However, in the course of orienting our brothers and sisters in secondary schools on how to succeed in life, we were baffled to learn that our schools lack adequate teachers to teach and guide students towards a prosperous future.
BALAWSAN Law Week was my way of bidding farewell to the one-year of service to the Bauchi State Law Students’ Association of Nigeria—as its President. But contrary to what people had imagined it to be, all my programs centered on secondary school students. At least, that’s what many would say, even though the Members of BALAWSAN were never left behind.
Our intention was to unveil young men with great potentials and build more capable leaders through mindset reorientation and capacity building; and we have achieved that— through the direct beneficiaries of the programs— our members and the secondary school students—most especially during the Debate Competition we organized between Secondary Schools, where young intelligent students were given the platform to display their oratory prowess, and consequently, the chance to realize their worth and capabilities. I am happy with the way things turned-out to be; for I am certain now, that we are not lacking talents in Bauchi State; what we are lacking is the will to invest in them. I will explain this further in the subsequent paragraphs.
On the 26th of October, 2023, my team and I arrived Sa’adu Zungur Model Secondary School at about 11am for a Career Awareness Program with which we declared open the first BALAWSAN Law Week, 2023. The School is one of the most reputed among the Public Schools in Bauchi State, and naturally, we would expect their standards to fit their public image. The Principal gave us a warm welcome, after which we were ushered into the Hall booked for the event. My friend who coupled as the Master of Ceremony introduced the purpose for which we were there, after which I was invited to deliver a brief lecture on “what it means to be a Lawyer” and subsequently, Miss. Atika Garba Hassan and Mr. Bilyamin Aliyu Salisu— both fresh graduates of Law— delivered lectures on “the requirements for Law Admission in Nigerian Institutions” and “the mindset for success” respectively. It was both an interesting and impactful program for everyone, until we started dishing out questions and as expected, the students answered passionately. As is the practice, we allowed for questions from the audience. Both Students and Staff asked many important questions, but the one that occupies my mind even as I write this piece is: “Literature in English, as Miss. Atika has explained, is a necessary requirement for a person who intends to pursue a career in Law and we have no Literature in English teacher in this School. Not only in this School, in the whole of Bauchi State, we had two of them, one of whom is deceased now. The Government is doing its best. The question now is, under this circumstance, how could our students be qualified to study law? Another thing is that, we do not have sufficient teachers to teach Government.”
Ordinarily, every good citizen would find it troubling to know that one of the best Public Secondary Schools in Bauchi has no teacher available to teach one of the most important subjects for every Art Class Student— I am a good citizen. To call this a disappointment is the highest I could go in leniency, and to call a spade a spade. It is the zenith of cruelty perpetrated by the Government of Bauchi State, every stakeholder in the Education sector of the State, Parents and the entire people of Bauchi State. How could this be happening without anyone saying anything? This is a time bomb, and unless it is dismantled, an abode is guaranteed in hell for all of us— both the Actors and Spectators. If this is what we found out in less than the Two hours we had been in the School, how much more does the Ministry of Education know? How much more does individual School Managements know? And how much more do we need to know before we act?
It is common knowledge that even the Commissioner and Directors of the Ministry of Education, and Principals and Teachers of Public Schools do not have their wards enrolled in public schools, and that has contributed to the criminal neglect of the schools. How can you be selling to people what you cannot use yourself? How can you ask people to trust the institution you steer when you do not trust such institutions with your children? But it is okay. I know they will rather point fingers than do the right thing, but at least, these students— the ones we have neglected— should have qualified teachers capable of helping them (the students) achieve their goals.
I know many schools face the same or worse challenges, and it is equally public knowledge that the State Government has the means to build roads; why would those funds not be diverted to support the god-given talents of the thousands of students caged in cave-like classrooms, with goals and the willingness to pursue them, but with no teachers to teach important subjects? Why would Parents have the energy to supervise the distribution of palliatives but turn a deaf ear to the intellectual sufferings of their wards? Why would Student Unions continue to waste funds on frivolous events even after knowing the problems bedeviling our brothers and sisters in schools? The whys are many, but the most important why is: why do we call ourselves “human-beings” when we peacefully sleep at night ignoring the plight of thousands of young promising students who have no one but us to fight for them?! Why?!
To fight this menace, it is required that all hands should be on deck to champion the change required to restore the confidence of the public in public schools. The Government should provide a conducive environment for learning, engage the services of qualified teachers for every subject— in every school— and improve the welfare of both the teaching and non-teaching staff in the Education Sector. Adequate measures should also be put in place to make sure that those saddled with responsibilities discharge them effectively. Parents should be willing to inquire about the things being taught in schools through diligent inspection of notes and friendly conversations tailored towards finding out the needs of their wards with regards to their future plans, and whether the school is able to cover those, efficiently. Student Union Leaders should accept the responsibility that comes with their titles; they should make quality education a priority— through advocacy and tangible projects centered towards the achievement of access to quality education and career guidance. Private Organizations should utilize the resources available for their corporate social responsibility, or a reasonable percentage thereof, to support the Government in the realization of access to quality education.
Everyone of us must do what they can to curtail this menace that feeds on the foundation of our civilization and progress. Everyone of us must do what they can to uphold the integrity and standard of our Educational System. Every Child deserves a fair chance at proving their worth and capabilities, and no child deserves a school that lacks the facilities to support their dreams. Everyone must be able to speak up when they see anything that undermines the quality of education received anywhere— in both private and public schools.
Muhammad Miftahuddeen Isa writes from Bauchi State, and can be contacted via Muftahuddeenisa@gmail.com or 07069964041.