Thursday, 14 November 2019

The State of Education in Warri

On my way to the office, I met a young man pushing wheel barrow, inside it, was an empty rice sack. "Are you not going to school?" I asked him "I go, go school, I need to pack the dirty from one of my customers house before I go school" he replied.

I knew Alex late September, 2019 and this Lad was about beating up one of his business associate, (Dirty packer) Kama who attended our very first "Books On The Go" in Enerhen town, Warri.

They were arguing among themselves who will be the one that will dispose the waste of a few people in the neighborhood. I had to intervene, asked questions to be able resolve the squabbles.

This young lads, rent wheelbarrow in the morning and go around the neighborhood carrying dirt, dump it in the nearby river at a fee. They make an average of a 1,000 - 2,000 Naira after payment of expense which includes renting of wheelbarrow and payment at the river, before they dispose it.

Reflecting on this incidence, I recalled the discussion I had with Aunt Takure Caroline, the former and retired Principal of Ugbolokposo Secondary School. She said Collins, Gender equality in education is changing quicker than we know, especially in the education sector. For example, We have more girls going to schools now than boys. In a class of 78 students, we can have 45 - 50 girls, why? She continued the boys are either looking for quick money through fraudulent means or from very menial jobs.

These kids do this at the detriment of the environment, causing health challenges to themselves and others and neglecting their education, the bedrock of their future and national development. 

A recent picture I received from a friend was the motivation for this post, it revealed that Education in Warri has been neglected by everyone, not just the government.

The state of education in Warri is one of neglect. When I saw the picture, I asked myself how come this is possible along Airport road? Airport road is not just the commercial hub of the city, it’s one of the high-end areas and the most popular route in the city. One will ordinarily assume that public schools along the location of the first airport in Delta state will have at least all the basic tools required for learning, but it's sad to see students seating on the floor in Ogberikoko secondary school, airport road.

A recent statistics states that 1 out of every 5 illiterate or out of school children globally, is a Nigerian. Nigeria has over ten million out of school children. This is so sad.

The consequence of an uneducated society is a factory churning out young people who abuse drugs, get involved in cultism, communal clashes, terrorism, and various criminal acts such as armed robbery, human trafficking, ready mercenary or object for exploitation by politicians, kidnapping, and juvenile delinquency etc to make end meets.

The National Commission for Mass Literacy Adult and Non-formal Education (NMEC), recently said that 35% of the nation’s adult population is illiterate. It's a shocking revelation, but I have no reason to question this data, because of my recent experience teaching inmates at Nigeria Prison, Warri. This experience opened me up to real and usable data.

I discovered that inside the prison yard of a little over 1,200 inmates, less than 500 had formal education and among this number only a handful finished primary and secondary school.

According to NMEC, literacy rate is the percentage of people from the age of 15 and above who can read and write simple statements on their everyday life.

It’s shameful that everyday, para educational outfits like extra-mural are springing up, adult night classes are increasing in the city of Warri when government is spending billions of Naira in education. Although their earlier ignorance of education led us here, but it’s high time, Education gets same budget as defense, power or health because it is directly tied to the quality of life citizens will lead.

It's shameful when only a handful of us, get this "are you from Warri?", questions. This question arise because only a few has differentiated themselves in actions, words, style of communication and doing something to contribute to the development of the city. A careful look at the people who bring shame to Warri, are the uneducated who contribute little or nothing to the development of city.

Education is the bedrock of any country, if we must build a NewWarri, then we must join hand with the government to combat the educational crisis in our city and the Nigeria at large. I believe we can have a 99.9% literate Warri.

Neglect of Education partly accounts for the low level of development and negative image, because the growth and development of anywhere depend largely on the quantity and quality of all segments of that place.

Literacy rates in countries like Cuba, Poland, and Estonia are as high as 99.8 per cent, while Barbados, Latvia and Slovenia have attained 99.7 per cent, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Report (2007/2008). That report put Nigeria's literacy rate at 69.1 per cent.

In drawing this to a close, It's expedient that I point out that there are some good schools in Warri, but not for the average residents and the ones that are a little above public schools are not for parents with minimum wage.

Schools like Lakeland schools Ogunu, Edjeba Estate School, Eagle Height, International Unity School, Wingate International School etc, fall under this category. These schools are equipped with good structure and library.

Not many schools come close to the standard and calibre of teachers these schools command. Delta Career along Airport road is among the best in the city, although they are not as expensive neither do they posses facilities schools like Eagle Height or Lakeland has, but they have raised some of the city's finest people both in Warri and Diasporas for the past 40 years. This year marks their 40th year of consecutively delivering quality education in the city.

In conclusion, there is a need for investment in both formal and non-formal basic education in Warri, irrespective of age or class, so that children and adults interested in education can have access to adequate educational opportunities which will help them develop their literacy skills and thereby bring development.

Often times, we hear people say that our educational system is broken, yet our university are flooded, and we keep using certificates from this broken system to apply for jobs and travel abroad.

The admittance that the government cannot do it alone, should motivate and drive both the social and private sector to fight educational neglect in the city. 

There are number of ways and platforms we can commit ourselves to improving the state of the education in Warri.

There are social and advocacy organization one can commit to give attention to education in the city. One of such is WarriReads. (@warrireads)

WarriReads believe that Education remains the most viable solution out of poverty. This local library works to empower children with books and learning tools, that can help them break the barrier between them and quality education. 

(Please note that the names in this post was changed.)

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