It was a Monday morning, amidst exciting students of Government Secondary School Shonga wearing white and blue uniform, they saluted the new week with bright faces and high zest to learn.
Teacher Mohammed , a male student called behind me, and announced to my host that the class was ready for the first lesson, English Language.
That was how Teacher Mohammed, reeled out his passion for teaching to me, I have tried to get myself out of teaching profession but the fate of my younger generation is “killing” me, the main challenge is that some of the students are not motivated and some are not even ready to learn as they appear”
“It’s not as if other professions are not calling but, my secondary school admiration for teaching keeps calling. I want to share with people what I have learnt and I also want to learn more. I also want to be the best and first friend to my children, so, I think the only possible profession for me to be able to do this is teaching, Mohammed told me in passing as he made his way to the classroom.
Musa Nuhu Mohammed , a 35year old Government Secondary School teacher in Shonga, Edu Local Government Area of Kwara -State.
As I watch the first lesson of the day being taught by teacher Mohammed, he expressed his love to teaching profession, he displayed raw passion towards the career many describe as the mother of all professions, to crown it all Mohammed turned the English class to a conversational classroom.
As Mohammed taught the students, I discovered he had deliberately chosen to give back to his root, his locality where he hailed from.
Teacher Mohammed, a native of Shonga, the Nupe speaking part of kwara State in North-central Nigeria, lauded the efforts of his teachers on him when he passed through basic school in the State capital, Ilorin.
The English language and Literature teacher, Mohammed barely knew the level of commitment and passion to teach when he admired his teachers while he was at the basic schools.
“Right from my secondary school days, I have loved teaching as a profession even when I didn’t know what it takes to be one. I have admired and appreciated some of my teachers and how passionate they were with their jobs”
It is easy for individuals who knew Mohammed to believe that his experience in his basic school days which was majorly acquired in a place he described as the rural area of Shonga , some two decades ago gave birth to his burning desire to contribute his quota to the development of basic education in Shonga community.
“My primary education was in a rural area which was beyond the standard. I therefore want to make some improvements to the best of my ability at least in teaching these children in the secondary school close to me in Shonga,” he explained.
Then I had the opportunity to query his initial desire to leave the profession despite other offers around him, I also got the chance to find out reasons “he had tried to get himself out of the teaching profession”
“Despite the fact that teaching in rural area is not that “encouraging,” from all perspectives, I still have some exceptional students that make my stay alive here in Shonga”.
He began to reel out his worries, “see in the school where I teach in Shonga, since I was recruited in 2014, I have never heard of training or re-training programmes for teachers , no seminars or even workshops to encourage teachers who like me have accepted and chosen to teach in rural areas”
“You know the issue of facilities is no longer new but as it is now , our own school needs serious renovation and most schools in rural areas are mostly forgotten when it comes to renovation and supply of more chairs and other learning materials”, Mohammed mentioned to me.
Mohammed continued the narratives by telling me that individual differences of students plays out on the challenges some times, “but I think that part of the problem is the absence of some basic social amenities and attitudes of students towards learning.
In our school more than 70 percent of students in rural areas are academically weak which is as a result of the quality of instructors they have you can see the need for training and retraining of us teachers across rural schools.
Again, this has given birth to attitudes of teachers not willing to stay in rural basic schools due to the fear of being forgotten and most of them are not willing to sacrifice because they are not indigenes of these localities and they are not ready either to sacrifice for others.
In rural schools like ours in Kwara north, we only have two female teachers in government secondary school Shonga .
On influence of female teachers in school, Mohammed told me that only two female teachers are in Government Secondary School Shonga, “what we experience in our own school is peculiar because we only have twenty one teachers teaching in the whole school and only two female teachers are among them”
“Our school principal is a woman and then we have one other female teacher, though we don’t have problems teaching our female students ,I mean we the male teachers but I believe female teachers will make more impact in encouraging our female students in school”
The United Nations Children and Education Fund in its research conducted in 2018 in eight northern states in Nigeria revealed that a total of 58,121 female teachers are needed to bridge the gender parity in rural classrooms in Nigeria alone.
The research which was one of the two commissioned by UNICEF as part of the Nigeria Girls Education Project, Phase 3 (GEP3) also linked out of school children, (estimated at over 10 .1 million) to the paucity of female teachers in the education system.
The report made known that female teachers have substantial positive effect on girls’ educational outcomes, and further pointed that there is a huge demand for more female teachers in rural communities across Nigeria.
The issues are here, Mohammed emphasised, “as you can see it visibly in our school, most secondary schools in the State capital are currently facing several degrees of problems as we are confronted by the challenges of learning facilities ,social amenities, paucity of teachers and the decades of non training for new and old teachers in Government secondary school Shonga.
Only recently, the kwara State government declared mismanagement of the sum of N1.5billion naira from the Universal Basic Education Funds provided by the federal government through the Universal Basic Education Commission, by the immediate past administration.
The administration of Governor Abdulrazaq Abdulraham also said the diversion of the UBEC fund is responsible for the ranking of the state in basic education as one of the lowest in the country.
As at April 30th 2019, Kwara State was ranked 37th on the list of UBEC Matching Grant Disbursement Performance