Today, I continue with my discussions from last week about the paradox of students passing exams while even their teachers cannot pass the same exams. I started with the just conducted competency tests administered on all 33,000 primary school teachers in Kaduna State. The result of the tests indicated that 21,780 of them, or two-thirds, failed to score 75 percent or higher on assessments usually given to their primary school pupils. To address this problem, the governor is going to hire new teachers with sufficient skills to teach and get rid of the failures. The quality of the teachers is just one dimension of the crisis.
I had also raised the issue of the “infamous” school with more pupils than they can be expected to teach. I decided to travel to Kaduna to see the school for myself. I was shocked by what I found in LEA Primary School, Lokoja Road, Rigasa, Kaduna. First, I asked one of the school administrators whether the reports in the media that they had over 22,000 pupils were true. I was told that the current number was even higher because school feeding, which had been stopped for some time, had been reintroduced, and when there is food the numbers spike by the thousands. To know the exact numbers of students in the school, they are planning to carry out a census because they had been directed to document the exact number of students they have. I went round some of the classes. Each class had between 280 and 300 pupils, with a few seated on benches but most of them on the floor. In any case, there wasn’t enough space in the classroom to put benches to sit all the pupils, who were in any case forced to sit on each other. There was no way any learning could occur in such classes which had ten times the maximum amount of pupils that should be in a class. The pupils had no exercise books or any material and they simply chant whatever the teacher says.
I asked a teacher how many of their 71 teachers had passed the competency test recently administered. She appeared very upset by my question. Teachers, she argued, should be assessed on how they are teaching and the conditions under which they are teaching, and not by an exam. She added that should all of them fail and new teachers get appointed, who have no experience trying to teach a class of 300 pupils, what magic can they deliver? I could not but agree with her. It was indeed true that the conditions for learning simply do not exist in that school, so bringing in new teachers cannot address the crisis.