My sweet romance with Taraba state started November 2nd, 2012 when I was posted to the State under the National Youth Service Corp(NYSC) scheme for the mandatory one year national service. It was indeed a call to serve and I wasted no time in honouring the clarion call.
The journey to Jalingo where the camp was located wasn’t a fairy tale one. Long hours on the road that stretches through the night. At some point I had to ask my co-traveler sitting beside me if were travelling to a different country..lolsss. My co-traveler presumably a northerner, chuckled a smile and said no.
To cut the long story short, my 3 weeks stay in camp was a fact finding one. During our last week in camp, when majority (70%) of the Corp Member were lobbying for relocation outside the state, I opted to know more about my host state; the culture, its people, topography and more importantly food.
I found out that the state has so many uniques about it and its people, and not minding the sun’s intensity and unfriendly weather I made my mind to stay. Equipped with this knowledge, I was posted to kwesati, a village in Ussa Local Government Area. The flash point of the journey was how we were welcomed. We arrived kwesati at exactly 9:23pm and surprisingly the villagers were keeping vigil, waiting for our arrival.
Until I left Kwesati, the community treated me as one of their own…And just to keep communication intact, I still communicate on phone with some of my Students/Teachers back then who are ‘opportuned’ to own a phone now. I must emphasis that during my service year in kwesati, there was no telecommunication network. Though I left my contact number behind, believing that someday the community will enjoy network availability.
And today, they are enjoying, as I can reach out to my students there.
My primary reason for writing this article is to bring to the notice of the good people of Taraba, the stakeholders, the deplorable state of our schools in Taraba State. I will use my place of primary assignment as a case study.
The state of learning in kwesati, as I later came to see, is nothing to write home about. Even in Ussa and Takum, where I had expected an upgrade, it is worse. There is this fact I first noticed in Government day Secondary School, Kwesati, where I taught Chemistry. I noticed that after a full term, no student is made to repeat a class even when it is glaring why a student should. I confronted the principle on this because I wasn’t comfortable and it was against what I stood for. The Principle confirmed my fear when he said, and in his word “we don’t fail students around here because if we do their parents won’t pay for their school fees anymore”
This gave me a lot of concern. I went down to Ussa and Takum and I discovered almost all the public schools having the same philosophy. What this portend for our education in Taraba is grave. I sought to see how the situation can be arrested. I resolved to play a role in rectifying the rot. I put together a team, made of serving corp members, ex-corp members and indigenous youths selected from Ussa and Takum LGA, to work out modalities on how to sensitize and instruct publics schools within these two LGA’s.
We carried out a research, I sent some of my colleagues to some major schools in the 2 Local Government areas, Wukari inclusive, and the result we got about the state of the schools were so alarming.
The areas we focused on were; teachers enrollment, infrastructures, library stock, students involement in classwork etc.
About 65% of the school staff are not effective, in other words, they are not competent or suitable for the job or better still need re-training.
Armed with these facts, I and alongside my team visited some major stakeholders in state.
I would name few names;
- we visited Mr kifasi,
- the former head of service of the federation,
- UTC, the former Acting Governor,
- DSK, guber candidate in the last election and many more.
We sold our ideas to them, and gave each of them a copy of our proposed projects on how to elevate the state of education of this state.
It’s sad to say that we were never called back and continuously we reached out to them. Our lofty vision for the state educational sector was allowed to die a natural death. Nevertheless, we did what we could. We carried out some sensitizing awareness tutorials. We selected a venue from each local government area and send letters to all the schools within the Local Government Area to send two teachers for the awareness tutorials.
The Youth of the state must be a priority, the youths no longer believe in themselves. The ‘lazy attitude’ in them must be curb. And our politicians from the state are major defaulters. If all you do is give this Youths fish, they will never learn to fish and to survive on their own.
Almost 90% of Taraba Youths are Jobless, no skills. I know security and peace is the first agenda the State Government should tackle and rightly so, the government is really trying but attention should be given to the youth and education.
Today, the state needs rescuing and there is no better way of doing that than making a statement, pushing for change, bringing up ideas and ensuring the right thing is done.
Let’s not fold our hands and watch our collective dream fall apart. I have so much to say…
It is high time tarabans shield their swords, put their differences aside, build the youth and support the government of the day. And together, Taraba shall be great!