I started secondary level education in the ‘90s and in those days, our parents and caretakers had things to complain about. It is either about the state of the classrooms or the hostel facilities. Many complained about the state of facilities in the science laboratories, while others, the quality of the teaching staff. These comparisons were against the experiences in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. They could measure deterioration within the educational sector.
The good old days
I studied in a public secondary school owned and managed by the federal government of Nigeria and I am proud to have one of such schools as my alma mater. For those of us who were students in those days, these deteriorations talked about by our parents and caretakers were not obvious to us, and neither did we bother about the state of the schools nor the sector at large. During my days, the hostel facilities were renovated and the bed bunks were still in order. The dining hall was very functional, the meals were always hot and tasty (well so we believed). In particular, I remember the morning pap and akara every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Also, the eba and okro soup, yet with a sizable piece of meat, we took in the afternoon. These are memorable days.
Furthermore, I fondly remember some of our teachers and the subjects they taught, though quite disciplined yet very effective and thorough. The foundation of my engineering degree was formed during my secondary level education. The quality and dedication of my mathematics and physics teachers helped me to develop a good competence in the subject. They found ways of relating such abstract subjects and made them comprehensible.
Where the shoe pinches
In retrospect, I am glad we did not bother about the complaints of our folks because compared to the present day, we were lucky and obviously lived in a different world. In a recent visit to my alma mater in the company of the alumni of my set, we got a rude shock at the level of deterioration. Unfortunately, the hostel accommodations were a shadow of themselves. Ceilings falling off, bed bunks struggling to stand straight, the toilet facilities were in a deplorable state and many more. The classrooms, laboratories facilities, the dining facility, and the clinic all had their share of deterioration. I can only imagine the quality of the meals. Wearing the shoes of our parents many decades ago, now I understand where they were coming from. I could not help but lament at the state of the school.
The golden question is how we can preserve the glory of these public institutions that have been the foundation of many great minds. The characters that were formed within those walls have gone ahead to be distinguished professionals in their fields of endeavor. Just like what we did in our alumni, we could only give back our widow’s might. The old adage says a few drops of water make a mighty ocean. If all alumni can give back their widows might these public schools would shine again. Don’t ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.