Education,  Social Issues

Beyond El-Rufai, What Can Be Done To Save Our Northern Nigerian Education System?

Northern education

Recently, I was scrolling through the news feed on my Facebook timeline and I stumbled on a news headline which said, “El-Rufai sacks 4, 000 newly recruited teachers who can’t write acceptance letters,”really! Is this happening again? This is just four months after El Rufai dismissed some secondary school teachers who did not pass the “competency test” in Kaduna state, and he employed new ones as replacements. Now, the newly recruited teachers are being sacked. Didn’t the state organise a standard qualifying test for the new employees before they came onboard?

While serving my fatherland in Sokoto as a French teacher at the Federal Girls College Tambuwal, Sokoto state, I was exposed to the laxity in the northern education system. Even though I served in a federal government school, it was unfortunate that the school could not rid itself of the abnormalities of the northern public school system. For instance, many of the teachers had stores in the market, and so, some of them would not come to class, they would rather prefer to go to their stalls to sell. Also, teachers often preferred to teach their students with Hausa rather than teaching them in English.

Interestingly, my experience as a federal school corper was similar to what my other colleagues who served in public primary and public secondary schools experienced. Can you imagine teachers chattering under the trees outside of their classrooms, when they ought to be performing their duties? They complained about teachers not coming to school, headmistress and principals who cannot construct good sentences in English. It is incredible that this culture has eaten deep into the northern public school system. Whenever we met as corpers, we usually had something to complain about. As a result of the kind of teachers they have, one hardly finds motivated students who really want to learn. At a point, some of my colleagues volunteered to teach some of these children for free, but these children after a few visits would not show up again. These teachers also at the sight of youth corpers became complacent and negligent and all job roles were transferred to the corpers. I often mumble to myself that if NYSC stops, then the northern states, at least let me speak considerably for Sokoto, would be stricken with illiterate youth. Unfortunately, the children of the Emirs, Sardauna, and Seriki’s would not be amongst. This is because the rich often know how to preserve their own.

The question often is, “How did these uneducated disguised educators get to be teachers in federal schools, in-state public secondary and primary schools in the North?” Well, I can’t answer this, but as the general saying goes, “corruption”. Yes, this word is deeply rooted in Nigeria. We can overlook anything to get people who are unqualified where we want them. I believe Governor El Rufai is fair enough to bring these issues to the open.

The epileptic state of education in northern Nigeria is something to discuss, however, the way out is to thoroughly weed out the bad eggs, which I believe are innumerable.


Emir – Kings

Sardauna – Highest royal head Sokoto state

Seriki – Local town head in the north



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  • Kolawole

    “I often mumble to myself that if NYSC stops, then the northern states, at least let me speak considerably for Sokoto, would be stricken with illiterate youth.”

    That’s the exact message and true in all sense.
    I only hope for a revolution in level of literacy in this country! – The children, my pains!

  • Olatunji Isaac

    I read this and can attest to it. My fiancee told me that in fact, most students are even truants in that they dictate what class they want to attend and that which they wouldn’t want to.

    She told of a particular boy who said he was not interested in writing a particular examination paper because he wasn’t ready and didn’t read for it. The funniest thing was that all teachers left him to be because they knew he had made his decision but my fiancee walked up him and was able to convince him.

    Note that my fiancee works with a private school and she’s the only Corp member in that school. I was surprised at the kind of educational system of the Northern Nigeria. It’s biting deeper than normal.

    May God help our government do the necessary.

  • Temitope

    I also thinks that if the northern can take away prejudice and nepotism and be humble enough to allow strangers to come to their aid and help without unnecessary fear and suspicion that characterise our nation. Help might come quickly than expected. My close to ten years in the north and even still visiting still tells me that.

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