This week, the newspapers carried the report that only 30.99 per cent of the 1,540,250 million candidates made credits and above in five subjects including English and Mathematics in the last May/June West African Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in the country.
We’ve screamed since we read the reports but this is same story for many years now and nothing is likely to change. We have all said this is due to the failure in our educational system and have stated that government must invest more resources in this sector. To make matters worse, education has since become a business venture in Nigeria thereby inhibiting the development of our nation because only are few can afford it.
I have thought long and hard about this and I believe our primary problem is not the really the lack of government support or even the hijack of education by the private sector but the lack of a critical mass of committed Nigerians dedicated to teaching the next generation.
We lack a critical mass of Nigerians committed to building a developed Nigeria because if we did, we would have witnessed effective teaching in the family, community, schools, churches & mosques. This effective teaching would produce a people of values and out of these people will come the credible political leadership for our local, state and federal levels of government.
What are the types of Teaching?
Communication: This form of teaching is common amongst parents and school teachers. It involves verbal & non-verbal communication of academic and non-academics issues. It is the obvious form of teaching and the signs in our nations do indicate that parents & teachers are not effectively communicating. With most parents (& in many cases both father & mother) absent from the home most of the day for 7 days a week (including time at church & mosque), we wonder what time is available to invest in effectively communicating to our families. We wouldn’t even bother discussing the lack of dedication amongst many teachers in schools which is reflected in their verbal & non-verbal communication to their students.
Modelling: The other reason effective communication fails in our homes, schools and community has to do with our ‘do as I say and not as I do’. We expect to teach effectively when we say one thing and do another. This lack of integrity communicates to our children, neighbours, staff or colleagues that it is okay to be dishonest, break our promises, cheat, steal, lie, etc. This is where modelling as a form of teaching comes in and the challenge is that many of us lack the character to model anything transformational.
According to Albert Einstein, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” For effective teaching that will transform the lives of those around us, we must teach through good modelling. For that to happen, we must be commit to regular study and regular practice of what we’ve studied.
Mentoring: A key method to accelerate development of a person, community and nation is through mentorship. When we take our children, neighbours and colleagues and directly pour out into them what we have learnt in life, we shape these people into characters that we exceed all that we’ve achieved. Teachers in schools should not only communicate and model but must also take some children under their wings and mentor them. Parents must not only communicate and model but must also mentor their children and other children from the community. Bosses in the workplace must add mentorship to communication and modelling of their staff
I believe there are 4 main stages of development and that is to Study, Practice, Teach and Inspire. Just as Study and Practice comes before Teach, I reiterate that it is pertinent for us to effectively study and practice in order for us to be effective in teaching. It is out of the abundance of what we put into us (through study & practice) that equips us to teach. It is about time we become a nation that says do as I do, not just as I say.
If we want to see the development of our nation, there has to be a change in our thinking about teaching in our families, communities and schools. In addition, the teaching profession should no longer be seen as a last resort after employment with an oil company, IT/Telecoms firm, Bank or government agency fails.
There has to be rise in Nigerians who will choose to go into teaching as a profession and even for those currently employed to commit time undertaking part time teaching in a school or becoming a mentor in the community. This way, we will build our public education to a standard that will break the firm grip of private education on our nation.
We need to reduce time spent in churches, mosques, weddings, funerals, watching Premiership & European Football, drinking bars, etc., and invest some of that time teaching our families, communities and schools.
Let’s become an effective teacher today and witness our national educational performance change for good. Only then will Nigeria be on course to become a developed nation.