Long serving president of Chad, His Excellency Idriss Deby has
Ebira Community Magazine
Education in ebiraland: a wicklow in tiger’s claws
The place of education in the development of any nation/society cannot be quantified. This is due to the fact that education remains a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy and no disposition can enslave. In fact education is the only ornament that beautifies all spectrum of the society. Many developed nations of the world have been able to reach and sustain their socio-economic and political heights because of their unflinching and unquenchable thirst for the development of their respective education sectors.
However, the story line is not the same in Africa particularly Nigeria where concern for the development of education as the nation’s thinking industry is consistently given the least priority. This unarguably accounted for the nose-diving standard of education, inability to train minds that drive the social and economic institutions of the country, high degree of uninformed minds, increased level of social vices/unrest among the youths and the hall-mark is, the deliberate effort by the elites who are products of free and sound system of education which hitherto existed in Nigeria, to kill our public schools.
Whether we like it or not, with the way the country is currently programmed coupled with the lackadaisical attitude towards the development of our educational institutions, the doomsday is already here with us, the brunt of which will continue to remain with all of us if nothing is done to revitalize the system. Poor as it is, Nigeria ranks high if not number one among other countries with large numbers of qualified and willing candidates denied admission to schools for no good reasons. Though, carrying capacity is often blamed for this disturbing phenomenon, to me, it is a calculated attempt to widen the knowledge gap between privileged few and a large number of brilliant indigent candidates. This is due to the fact that, if the purported carrying capacity affects the children of the rich, they have alternatives in private institutions. The accompanying question is, how many poor parents can afford the tuition of private institutions if their wards are caught in the net of ‘lack of carrying capacity’?.
Away from the nation, the contagious dwindling concern for the development and improvement of education standard has in no small measure infected the brilliant, tenacious, resilient and hardworking people of Ebiraland. History has it that our fore-fathers were predominantly farmers but had undying quest and respect for education. This, they demonstrated by sending at least one person in the family to school while others remained in the farm to assist in farming activities. Our fore-fathers were so smart, foresighted and intelligent that they anticipated that their wards may be discriminated against and denied admission by the then missionaries on account of ‘carrying capacity’, that they deemed establishing native and community schools fit to function alongside other missionary schools like; Roman Catholic School in Okene (1917) and St. Peters Primary School in Ogori (1918). This saw the establishment of Ebira Native Authority Central School in 1923 having: Abdulmalik Atta, Abdulrahaman Okene, Ali Arigi, Amadu Rufai, Umaru Oricha among other prominent sons of ebiraland as pioneer students.
Also, it was reported that due to lack of opportunity for higher education beyond elementary three in the northern region then, his highness, Late Alh Sani Omolori (immediate past ohinoyi of ebiraland) was made to spend five years in elementary three. Consequently and in bid to respond to the education needs of the people of Ebira then, Okene middle school now known as Abdulazeez Atta Memorial College, Okene (AAAMCO) built in 1933. The school also enjoyed the credit of being called then, ‘the Lion of the North’. Also, Okene Secondary School, Okene was established in 1944. Following the upsurge in the population of ebira people and the growing enthusiasm to attend school, several other community schools such as Ebira Community Secondary School, Ogaminana (ECSSO), Ebira Muslim Community College, Okengwen (EMCCO), Ihima Community Secondary School, Ihima (ICSSI) among others, were constructed through communal efforts. The community schools which competed favourably with similar schools in big cities then, were able give solid academic and moral foundation to many very prominent Ebira sons and daughters, names too numerous to mention.
The uncommon reverence, eminence and glory instituted by our fathers particularly in education has dwindled that the then ‘lion of the north’ is now clawless and toothless while other community schools that gave foundation training to our reputable sons and daughters (Professors, Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, Accountants, Geologists, Architects among others) are now WAEC and NECO centers. Also, sons and daughters of ebira who strive to get out of secondary school still find it difficult to secure admission into higher institutions of learning to study choice courses. Though statistics has it that the number of ebira sons and daughters securing admission into schools in the north is high, a large number of our people who are qualified that still find it difficult to secure admission remains an incubus. There is also a case of very many of them being pushed to study courses against their wish.
Also, the increasing number of ebira sons and daughters passing required exams (WEAC, NECO and JAMB) but denied admissions coupled with those that have to settle down for any giving course due to reservation of very special areas of study for indigenes of communities where universities are situated call for serious concern.
First, the sharp and continuous decline in the standard of education can be traced to indiscipline on the parts of: teachers, parents and students, poor funding and lack of commitment. This has culminated into breakdown of laws and order, lack of respect for constituted authorities, increased civil unrest and underdevelopment. If we must restore the old glory of education in ebiraland, we must be communal in approach. Ebira is largely blessed with brilliant individuals across different districts whose talents are currently under-utilized. Each district like okene, eika, okengwen, adavi/ogaminana, ihima, obangede should strive to have one standard school (Gifted School) each with best brains in each subject areas as teachers, selected purely on merit, handsomely remunerated and motivated with highly disciplined principles to oversee the activities of the schools. This crop of individuals together with institutions put in place will help achieve superior performance, distinctive impact and lasting endurance. In addition, each district must give its all, financial and otherwise, in ensuring that the schools continue to thrive on the path of success and glory. This will enhance in no small measure, the quality of secondary education in Ebiraland.
Also, we must also take charge of ensuring that our secondary school leavers do not only secure admission into higher institutions of learning, but institutions that train our children on pure academic and entrepreneurial skills and we can achieve this by looking inwards. To this end, I don’t think it will be too much to ask for an institution of higher learning in this regard. After all, if our illiterate but highly intelligent fathers could do the uncommon magic in making ebiraland a one-time citadel of academic excellence during their own time, I challenge our elites who are products of our forefathers’ efforts in education to take this as a challenge for the sake of posterity. Yes we can do it! I recall an effort made by one our own (professor M.S Audu, the former Vice Chancellor of the Federal university of Technology, Minna) in this regard. He and his team then had already identified a cite and even cleared for the first university in ebiraland. We understand that such is a capital project that requires concerted efforts and huge financial wherewithal. I call on all well meaning sons and daughters of ebiraland (his majesty, the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, our most amiable governor, our professors, Ebira senior academics, those in private practice and those in positions of authority to do what I call ‘ leave a legacy project’ in our education. The whole essence of our brilliance, affluence, influence and positions is to impact and benefit the society and in this regard, our primary constituency is no other than Ebiraland.
Furthermore and in x-raying the impact of having our own higher institution of learning, our men and women are known to be exceptional in any chosen vocation like: ceramic ware, fashion designing, hair dressing, basket making, carpentry works, bricklaying, computer and phone repairs and so on and these skills can be fully utilized by providing institutional based training ground for our people as well as other interested candidates from other parts of the country. This can be captured in the entrepreneurial aspect of the proposed institution.
More so, the institution will provide economic succor to the trainers, trainees and the host community. Trainers in various vocations, stand to earn more financially through the offer of practical skills to students/apprentices, build up their level of confidence and enjoy the unprecedented benefit of having institutional exposure. Trainees will have a full blend of academic and practical touch which will give them the opportunity to take on life challenges, set up their own business, train others, earn more money and help in greasing the wheel of commerce in our society. The host community is not left out in the benefit of having higher educational institutions in ebiraland. The presence of such institutions will provide jobs for our people, the presence of students from different states will be accompanied by funds from such states and they will inevitably put a smile on the faces of those that engage in any meaningful commercial activities. This will not only put us on the national/world map but also helps to showcase our society as a specialized education destination.
Finally, education is one of the treasures in ebiraland, we have the manpower, land and finances to harness this treasure but the problem is, who ‘bells the cat’. We can all bell the cat together and at once. Remember, the difference between what we are doing now and what we are capable of doing as a people will change our lives and the society for the best. Dare to try, Dare to win! See you all at the foundation laying ceremony of our proposed secondary schools and higher institution of learning.
Dr. Abdulazeez Adeiza Daniya