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Funding Education For Global Challenges

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A revelation by an expert on education sometime ago that Nigerian students have become globally less competitive should be of great concern to the government and indeed, people of Nigeria.
The lamentation came from a professor of Africa Religious Traditions at the University of Ibadan, Emmanuel Obasi, who decried the inability of Nigerian students to compete globally with their colleagues. Coincidentally, the observation was made when lecturers in the nation’s higher institutions were on strike to press home their demand for improved funding of tertiary schools.
While stressing that Nigeria’s culture of learning is in-appropriate compared to what is obtainable across the globe, the scholar said university teachers in Nigeria lack the needed resources to teach the students effectively. He identified lack of basic learning tools and conducive environment as the underlying factors, adding that the students are not effectively engaged with the universal practices.
I cannot but agree with the scholar’s comment that Nigerian students have, indeed, become globally less competitive. This is as a result of appalling fall in the standard of Nigeria’s education.
Central to the professor’s lamentation is the low quality of education in Nigeria. It is no exaggeration to say that by every criterion applied, the learning culture in Nigeria has virtually collapsed under the weight of neglect.
As Professor Obasi noted, there is a serious and fundamental problem with the nation’s education system. Most of these have got to do with the governance, especially the system of education; call it poor education management.
Take the challenge of wages, for instance. With a poor remuneration, how does anyone honestly expect a perennially disgruntled, poorly-motivated teacher to teach with competence, confidence and enthusiasm? In most states in Nigeria where poor revenue has become an issue, teachers bear the brunt, as they are most often, the last to be paid salaries.
The teacher is arguably one of the most important factors in the education system. A competent, motivated teacher may not necessarily be the highest paid person, but his or her infectious enthusiasm to teach and improvise where necessary encourages the students to learn. It is reported that in Finland that ranks very high in the quality of education in the global context, only the best graduates are recruited into the teaching profession. And they are remunerated like other very valuable, senior public officers and top professionals. That is how it should be for there can be no good doctors, engineers, lawyers and journalists without good teachers.
That is why, at all times, the teaching and learning environment must be conducive to teachers and students. If to offer globally competitive quality education to students is really the overarching goal of education, Nigerian leaders and education policy makers at all levels should put education on their priority list. Leaders should not be too busy to supervise facilities that they have funded well in all schools. It boggles the mind that children have to sit on mats and under trees to study in a 21st century Nigeria. This is insufferable!
Is it not tragic that pupils are reportedly chased out of their classrooms by rampaging cows of herdsmen on a rainy day? It happens in Nigeria and no one has been punished for this sacrilege.
Besides, in most public schools in Nigeria, post-primary and tertiary institutions lack laboratories for science, computer and language studies respectively. What is worse, it is hard to come by well-equipped schools let alone worthy public libraries. And so, when deprivation or poverty of teachers meets paucity or absence of facilities in a decrepit school environment, teaching and learning are markedly impaired. The consequence is that aggrieved teachers constantly resort to industrial actions and disrupt the school calendar all the time. The costs of this action to Nigeria are usually very high and unquantifiable, especially in the tertiary institutions where research is necessary.
The knowledge gap, the skills gap and the employability gap between products of Nigerian schools and those from other lands will continue to widen as long as we continue to underfund education.
Section 18 of the 1999 Constitution as amended stipulates that “Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels” are provided. Only leaders who know the value of education would be disturbed about the non justifiability of this provision.
This is no time for any blame game. Every stakeholder should accept responsibility for this tragedy that has diminished all of us. What is needed at the moment is not lamentation. Nigerians need to move from rhetoric to actionable policies for the revival of Nigeria’s education. What we need is education that can trigger global competitiveness.
In the first place, we do not need a UNESCO official to tell us that we should earmark more than 26 percent of our budgets from federal to local governments for education. After all, the old Western Regional Government in the 1960s once voted more than 50 per cent for education. And that is why these days, they have this competitive advantage within the context of federalism that marks them out.
Remarkably, there are many experts who are products of this system that once worked in the South-West of Nigeria. We need to tap from their wealth of knowledge and experience on how to revive education.
It is our consistency in funding education and implementing policies that can produce Nigerian students and graduates that are globally competitive. There is, therefore, no doubt that the quality of education is the only known panacea to the ills plaguing the nation’s education.
Toby wrote from Port Harcourt.

 

Bethel Toby

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Opinion

Open Letter To Nigerian Politicians

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Dear Honorable Politicians of Nigeria, events taking place in the country in the recent times demand that you hear how those that you represent feel about you hear how those that you represent feel about you and your activities. In the first place, Nigeria is larger and greater than a few powerful individuals who represent the masses. Secondly the task of political leadership is a serious responsibility meant to be undertaken with patriotism and a volition to serve.
Money and power rarely on their own make a good and responsible leader, but personal integrity comes in as a strong factor. Politics as a calling is obviously being debased and distorted considering the way it is being practised in Nigeria. If you would be perceptive enough to look into the souls of those that you lead, you would see disillusionment, disappointment and hunger. There is a longing for a change for the better. There is a need to bring down the level of anxiety and frustration in the land.
One of the key responsibilities of national leadership is to manage the economy in such a way that the masses can be motivated to strive diligently and honestly to earn a living and contribute positively towards an up-building of the nation. To beg or steal in order to live would not be an ideal situation in a well-managed economy, for any citizen.
Unfortunately, Nigerian citizens have the impression that politics is a means of personal and sectional aggrandizement rather than opportunity to serve and make personal sacrifices for the sake of the well-being of the masses. Ordinary Nigerians feel that politicians constitute a part of the problems which they have. Money and power cannot be the key issues of life, but those who possess them can utilize them, with maturity, for the well-being of the struggling masses.
There is the story of Timon of Athens whose misapplication of his wealth through over-generosity resulted in his fall and banishment. In his dying statement he wondered: “What a god is gold, that he is worshipped in a baser temple than where swine feed!” There is also the story of Macbeth whose ambition for power led to a personal and national disaster. One of his dying statements was that “There’s nothing serious in mortality, all is but toys: renown and grace is dead …”
The purpose of the two examples cited above is to remind those who possess wealth and power that material possessions and positions are transcient. One great man who had tasted wealth and power left or will which contained the following statement: “There are two things to aim at in life; first, to get what you want, and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.”
The nature of Nigerian politics was portrayed in an unguarded statement as a “do-or-die affair,” by an ex-president. Majority of Nigerians would have wished that politics should be about service to the nation rather than a gangsterist affair or “dirty game”. Through monetization it has become a “cut-throat business” whereby huge financial investments must be recouped in a gansterist manner. There must be some good politicians who have the interest of the masses at heart.
There is a general impression that politicians are oppressors rather than friends of the masses. This perception should be altered through patriotic and exemplary service which would not be difficult for the people to observe and appreciate. It is obvious that the task of nation-building is enormous and demanding, but there would be a focus on providing an enabling environment wherein the masses can put in their best willingly.
Perhaps, unknown to many people, there is a global cleansing process, meant to correct past imbalances brought about by human greed and ignorance, largely. A few people who are permitted to perceive the trend of this global phenomenon, see that Nigeria is a flash point where there must be diligent care with regard to the practice of politics. Politics should not degenerate into conspiracies and gangsterism.
Without being specific, it is necessary to advise Nigerian politicians generally to bridle personal ego, vanity and vaulting ambitions. To plunge a community into anxiety and instability cannot be described as good politics. There is an old prophecy that those that the gods would destroy, they first make mad. A “do-or-die” system of politics can be described as politics of madness. May be time will unfold what cunning intrigues hide away now. The military and police should stay away from the growing madness.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Bright Amirize

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Opinion

Combating Human Trafficking In Nigeria 

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Nigeria is a source, transit point and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons in which they are subjected to forced labour and prostitution. Trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country’s borders.
Women and girls are for voluntary domestic servitude and sexual exploitation while boys are for forced labour in street vending, domestic servitude, mining and begging. Nigerian women and children are taken from Nigeria to other West and Central African countries like Ghana, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Gambia for the same purposes.
According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Nigeria is one of the leading African countries in human trafficking with cross-border and internal trafficking. Human trafficking is a way to exploit women and children for cheap labour and prostitution to help themselves out of poverty.
Human trafficking always occurs within Nigerian borders, in neighbouring countries and many European countries as well because they are able to ship women and children for human trafficking to expand the market or the industry. Human trafficking gangs Nigerian have sent thousands of women into the sex market within Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Research shows that about 10,000 Nigerian prostitutes in Italy are subjected to human trafficking.
Human trafficking of Nigerian women to Italy began in the 1980s because of the demand for low skilled labour in agriculture and services. Nigeria has a history of hearing financial issues causing significant unemployment and poverty. Given the underground nature of trafficking, its consequences are hidden and difficult to see.
Trafficked persons often do not have unlimited access to basic necessities such as safety, food, sleep, hygiene and medical care. The effects of trafficking vary depending on the type of trafficking and specific situation. Given that trafficking is based on the exploitation of individuals, all victims of trafficking may be subject to physical, psychological and social impacts.
Victims of trafficking often experience harsh physical impact due to excessive work or the use of force by traffickers. Victims may be exposed to health risks like HIV/AIDS as well as a serious mental health risk. Anxiety, insecurity, fear and trauma are all products of trafficking. Research indicates a high level of Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) in formerly trafficked persons which can also lead to cognitive impairment, memory loss, depression and even suicide.
Trafficked minors are all the more vulnerable due to their age. It may greatly impact children’s emotional, physical and overall psychological development. Trafficked persons may also experience social ostracism and often isolated from their social circles, leaving individuals unable to engage socially or reach out for help. Victims may also be trafficked internationally and, therefore, may not be able to engage due to a lack of linguistic capability or geographic and cultural familiarity.
Sex trafficking has some consequences for victims and society. It affects women and girls in reported cases. Despite law protecting them, victims of trafficking are often criminalized; this exacerbates the physical and psychological trauma they experience and causes economic harm that limits their ability to break free from their traffickers and rebuild their lives.
Human Trafficking is seen as an endless cycle with a global economic crisis on the horizon as the demand for cheap labour is on the rise. People looking for jobs far away from home are often deceived. This places the poor at a higher risk of being trafficked, as victims of human trafficking are often poor and illiterate.
Sex and human trafficking could be curbed through learning the indicators of human trafficking to help identify a potential trafficking victim. Human trafficking awareness training should be made available to individuals, businesses, law employees, among others.
One should be able to report suspected traffickers to law enforcement agents. Volunteer and support anti-trafficking efforts in your community. The government should endeavour to create employment for Nigerian citizens several of whom are unemployed and have no livelihood.
Skills acquisition should be organized in every State to enable youths to learn at least a trade. Nigerian borders should be properly guarded while other agencies should be set up to arrest human traffickers in order to reduce the rate of trafficking in the country. The media have a role to play in shaping perceptions and guiding the public conversation about human trafficking.
Harry, a freelance journalist, is based in Port Harcourt.

 

Favour Harry

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Opinion

Gleaning From Akashic Record

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Issues raised and discussed during World Sickle Cell Day (June 19) would not be adequate to throw open deeper knowledge into the phenomenon of Sickle Cell Anemia. It is necessary that we take some gleaning from other quarters too. There is nothing abracadabra about so-called Akashic Record, because it is all about Natural History; namely, the evolution, development, pilgrimage and the travails of the human species over a very long time. Nothing is erased or arbitrary therein.
Sickle cell anaemia is a serious genetic illness which affects mainly the black race, in which the blood cell changes shape, causing weakness and fever. The normal cell has a circular shape while the sickle one has a hook-like shape. The anaemia associated with sickle cell is the lower level of red blood, whereby a child becomes more prone to illness.
Some Ill-disposed persons took the prevalence of sickle cell anemia among the black people to say that the Blacks are an inferior or cursed race. Because Sickle Cell Anaemia is known as “Undine’s curse” and is hereditary in nature, there are lots of superstitions associated with it. However, there is a need to delve into the reason why sickle cell anaemia is associated with the “Undine”.
There is a widespread ignorance, superstition and misconceptions about this matter and a lot of people look in the wrong directions or make unfounded claims over the phenomenon. In many cases more guilts are incurred in the process of seeking solutions to personal problems, especially with individuals and organizations that take delight in exorcism.
Definitely there are hereditary diseases and other afflictions, some of which arise from curses and imprecations whose origins are decades or even centuries old. Undines which can also be called Nixies are one generic species of innumerable Nature beings. However, the Undines as Nature beings, do not place a curse upon any human being, rather, the activities of all Nature beings have to do with working and serving in various elements, such as air, water, fire, soil and all that constitute Nature.
There are other species of beings whose activities have to do with the weaving of the fate of humans, referred to in the Scriptures as “Watchers”. Therefore, there is a need to make a distinction between various Nature and Elemental Beings serving in different spheres of creation in line with the Will of the creator, and artificial entities created by human thoughts and emotions. What human beings create through their activities would continue to haunt them.
Because of human misconceptions about the mechanism, weavings and laws in creation, there is the tendency for individuals to judge events and experiences from grossly myopic perspectives. For example, the phenomenon of sickle, cell anaemia or Undines curse, has nothing to do with Nature beings. Rather, human beings may not remember the origin and starting points of what they experience in life, neither is the issue of continuity of life considered as a reality by many people.
The striving to find meaning in life is a vital motivating force in man, and the experiences and challenges which we encounter are some of the means of finding deeper meanings. Unfortunately a good number of people would dodge rather than face life’s experiences and challenges boldly and seek to learn what lessons they mean to convey. Thus, the escapist syndrome expresses inability of man to stand up to the demands and responsibilities of life. Dodgers and weaklings can hardly have a glimpse into the Akashic Record!
To run to prayer houses, occult and witch doctors for the removal of personal afflictions for a fee, would be to refuse to dig deep into the perplexities of life. Truly, there is no mystery in creation but ignorance, fear and indolence, but those who seek diligently and earnestly can always find the truth, hidden from the majority of humans. Would anyone deny the fact that we reap what we sow, in spite of our clever scheming?
All hereditary diseases and afflictions which may appear inexplicable or unjust can be explained from the light of the operations of the law which demands that those who sow singly or jointly must also reap what originated from them. The “Watchers”, not the “Undines”, weave, knot together and connect the threads and radiations of fate so that at the right time, those who are bound together by the threads of fate can experience mutually what they had set in motion long ago.
There are a number of people allegedly tormented by evil spirits, mamy-water, etc, but whose plight can be traced to some personal negligence or wrongdoing of a distant past. Nature beings cannot be held culpable for such woes, but what torments humans are artificially created thought-forms which can also be called demons, which are products of human volition and emotions. The links between such evil centres of energy and those connected with them do not take place arbitrarily; rather, the contents and blood cells of individuals serve as microchips. The storage tank or bank of all human activities is what is referred to here as Akashic Record! Blood is an identity fluid, like finger print! DNA technology is a valid science.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Bright Amirize

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