Education is dead in Ortom's Benue

According to the late great sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo, education is the greatest legacy a man can bequeath to his children. He so believed in this principle that when he became the leader of government business in the Western Region of Nigeria in 1951, he instituted what came to be known as the Free Universal Primary Education, that saw schools opened everywhere within the hinterland of that Region and thus set in motion an educational revolution that saw the West dominating the rest of Nigeria until the East in a sprinting spurt spurred on by communities development associations leveled up. We still see the ramifications of that well thought out policy to this day.

In the North, the area that later became Benue-Plateau was on the ascendant. By virtue of having no religious inhibition to acquiring western education, they supplied the much needed man power to oil the Northern Regional Government supported by imported expatriates from India, Pakistan and the like. It was only later, that the revolutionary Ahmadu Bello recognising the value of education, pushed very hard for mostly the children of the elites and to a lesser extent the talakawas to attend school. There was a great suspicion of the effect the acquisition of western knowledge could have on the hold of the Fulani elites over the Hausa talakawas. There was this thought that it may loosen the grip Islam and it language of learning Arabic, allows the Sultanate to exert over the gullible and kind Hausa people. They were content to let the Christians of the middle belt supply the bulk of the civil service while gradually introducing their children into the system.

It was in this way, that Benue produced some of the greatest administrators and in some of the greatest Primary and secondary schools in the North.

However, we no longer have that today. Benue has become the most educationally disadvantaged state in almost the whole of what used to be the Northern Region of Nigeria. Our schools are in tatters. the buildings are falling apart. They do not have any library or laboratory to boast of. Our teachers are not paid. Their skills are outdated as they are stuck in the sand of time as a result of lack of access to continuous training. The Government of the state since the inception of democracy seems to have taken the view that primary and secondary education are not worth their time or effort. The perspective seem to be that tertiary education is more important than the education at the formative years of a child. This is why we now have very high incidence of garbage in, garbage out in our higher institutions, for real education and socialization, happens not at the tertiary level but at the primary and secondary schools level. The higher institutions only complement and take to higher levels what is already inculcated into the child at the elementary and high schools.

It is mind boggling to me that the Government of Ortom in spite of its ambitious vision of education in Benue is playing with the future and legacy of the children of Benue. It is even funnier that a government that has taken upon itself to key into the UBEC funding to renovate some block of classrooms in all the primary schools in the state through the instrumentality of SUBEB is totally neglecting the teachers who are being owned more than 12 months salaries and are expected to continue to attend classes and teach! To the government the paper pushers in Makurdi are more valuable than the people that actually impart knowledge into our future assets. It is why it struggles to pay the civil servants while leaving the teachers in the dust. I'm yet to fathom the reason why this is so but as a very suspicious woman, I'm incline to believe that this is a clever design to kill the public schools thus suppressing the rise of the children of the poor and in that insidious turn, clear the field for their own children (who attends expensive private schools and tertiary institutions overseas) to dominate. Where it not so, primary and secondary education wouldn't have been treated so poorly, the way it is in Benue. We wouldn't be losing our competitive edge in the North not to talk of the South. We are losing a generation to the incompetence of those in power. We will be dominated in years to come by others.
Reviewed by De SOUL ENERGIZER on July 07, 2017 Rating: 5

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