Butterfly effect and Nigeria education system

What has Butterfly Effect got to do with Nigeria school system abysmal condition?

It all started from the early 1980s, most schools around were government-funded schools and teachers were for the most part of reasonable quality.

Admittedly, federal government is not solely responsible for the failure in the education sector – however, they failed to put strict monitoring system in place to be sure every child should matter. Also to maintain those at decision-making offices are sensitive to local needs.

My niece had all along had thought her mother did not finish secondary school because my family was poor and on top of that her mother can’t cope with academic rigour.

“Whoa, that’s what you thought happened?” I spoke through fits of giggles.

My sister had underestimated how much children make up stories to draw conclusions that make sense for them if adults around failed to share past experiences in a simple way to enlighten.

No, your mother did not stop going to school because my parents were poor. Remember, most people are poor but one thing that people in the south takes great efforts to achieve was education and this is very common with people in the villages and small towns.

Your mother, I explained to my niece, stopped going because in early 80s government decided that educating the masses was not that much important so they stopped funding schools at all levels – giving selected few scholarships to study abroad.

No concern to what happens to local schools, so everyone at all levels of authority did as pleased – social welfare of ordinary citizens amount to little.

Well, it backfired, as it is evidenced today that educating everyone to a quality primary school turned out to be much more important to a successful nation than sponsoring a few thousands to study oversees.

It was 1984, Jibola was looking forward to leaving primary school behind. In my mother’s dream – Jibola was to become a nurse – Moomi had a nurse friend and loved the uniform.

Jibola was given admission to Iyekere Commercial Grammar School, Ile Ife (under new name now) No Modakeke indigene in their right mind would send their child to a school in Ile-Ife because we were at war with each other.

1984 was superficially calm because It was a military regime – uniformed men about town from the north – they don’t speak local language, worked under strict instructions – you cause trouble, they kill, ‘Kill and Go’ they’re called –  also we were under curfew.

Oba Sijuade feared Military regime so kept it all under wrap but perpetual killings still went on underground – everybody knows this including children like myself.

My sister’s school was state-funded, this makes no difference to the average person on the street but what it means in reality was that Jibola had to supply her own locker and a chair to take to school because the school is basically a shell.

Preferential treatment even for entering government-funded schools, thousands of school children even locally didn’t have to do this but Jibola had to.

“Ask your mother to show you the two gold bracelets she has,”  I told my niece. They were the only leftovers from our mother’s wedding jewellery – Jibola hid them away insisting mother should not sell them to the Mallam (neighbourhood Hausa gold dealer).

Your mother had all her text books, notebooks, pens, tuition and developmental fund paid.

Jibola was determined to face the challenge. Every morning she’d walk about two miles to school, the walk was never the problem but each time she crosses to the other side, she’d panicked holding her breath – never felt completely safe.

It was someone’s job to make sure school allocation is sensitive to the local people’s needs – whoever was in charge underplayed how constant anxieties could easily kill motivation in school children.

“Moomi is going to kill you when she gets home” I told Jibola when I saw her coming home with locker and chair to signal she has had enough.

“Daddy, is home, he’ll protect me” She replied, not very sure but knew she is tired of that school.

My mother was defeated, her dream of a nurse daughter dashed away, she didn’t make any fuss – she saw it coming, only trying too hard to see how far Jibola could go.

My niece has been quiet for a while, I could see her renew appreciation for her mother but being a young woman, she could not help but broke down…

“Oh please, don’t get teary eye on me” I said to my super sensitive 23 year old niece. “Time to start working on Dreams from my Mother, that’ll worth all the tears.”

Oh, least I forget “Your mother’s school shoes was my mother’s 1961 wedding shoes” – Now that’s the whole truth Omo Iya.

12 thoughts on “Butterfly effect and Nigeria education system

  1. Sadly, in America our public educational system is struggling due to cutbacks at the state level. Our President, during his term, has been pushing for improving primary, elementary, secondary and college level quality education for those in this country who are most in need. But, a conservative legislative body is impeding the efforts he is pushing for. failing to place a high value

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes you wonder what this world is really – the odds are always against the low income and cutting back on funding for public schools is sure way to further hurt those who have little.

      Fingers crossed for good news.


  2. WOW!!! You have out done yourself with this piece….
    I love the ending, it reads like a drama but feels like a thriller.

    Please tell me those ‘Wedding School Shoes’ of mother & daughter now have a place of honour it the family sitting room

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Your poor poor sister….. Though its been so many years ago, I can just imagine how she must have felt. Not about the shoes but going across to a hostile part of your area to school or work takes a lot out of you.

        I did that after the sharia riots in kaduna in 2000. Immediately after the riots ended I had to go to work on the Muslim side of town daily. The stares, pointing, deliberate incitement, all to get an excuse to kill me. God it was a terrifying experience.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Compelling read, Folake. I’ve never read anyone discuss education in the past like this before, all I’ve heard about is how ‘great’ the old days were (before the war… and not as bad as we have today after the war).
    But you do a good job of telling it and I can feel your sister’s frustration and fears.

    Your line about skeletal classrooms brought back memories of service in mid 2011. I was sent to a school in one of the villages on Benue state. To say I was surprised at the state of the school is an understatement. The principal said the school used to be a remarkable sought-after place in its hay days. Apparently what I met was the shadow of a lost glory. The story goes that the school was shutdown after a heavy wind blew down the structure, destroying some of the properties. Well, today it”$ standing again, but students have to come with their own lockers, or learn on the floor. It’d be nice to know what declared them ‘fit for learning’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Uju for sharing your story too – it will give us all more perspectives on the state of education in our dear beloved country.

      What bothers me most was the stack inequality even among school children – some are asked to bring lockers and others don’t – this within same government-funded schools.

      Actually I learnt even in Lagos, some schools asked children coming to school with bricks to contribute to school building – all fine if this applies to all but not to a few – just not right as I imagine a low income family who have two children in such school will struggle more than others.


  4. FK, the more I read and not only understand your points but the way you deliver them.

    Let me explain, my last comment was that I thought (and still do think) education is not an issue in Yorubaland (Western region) as the diaspora readily embrace education. With my experience of Nigerian parents (those at home tend to be more strict and less understanding when it comes to education – this is a generalisation). This was raised in response to you stating that education standards in the 1980s had declined, but I had no come back to that from you. I thought nothing of it, you had to push on with your posts, I understand that.

    Then a couple of posts later you now paint the context that led you to make such a remark. This perfectly answered my question.

    The account was great, I read it, imagined the scene and thought about the responsibilities of adults to children ie being frank with them about their youth. I can say with my family, my parents and aunts and uncles were not forthcoming with the truth, they painted an ideal (and unrealistic) picture of their lives in Nigeria and their conduct, and used that to belittle me and undermine me. I give them the benefit of the doubt, they had good intentions – lol. But as an adult, I know they were “stretching the truth”. I think frankness and honesty are really important with “parent-child” relationships.

    I gave you an example of parents not being “straight” (honest) with me, I told you that my Dad, told me that sexual harassment only occured in the West (Western world), and no such thing occured in Nigeria. Only later (as an adult) I realised he was talking rubbish. We can’t choose the parents we have, but we can learn to appeciate them (warts and all).

    Thank you FK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you jco.

      The way I see it is that if we truly love our country, then we owe it to tell our true stories. This is how I have seen many countries ahead of us dealing with their challenges.

      Especially in Nigeria, concrete examples are important so people in key positions could better understand how their actions affect ordinary people – here’s hoping they read at all.


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