Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Death of Human Capital

The developed nations of the world both in historic and present times never thrived or achieved feats as a result of the natural resources imbedded in their geographic cores. It has been proven without equivocation that frontier breakthroughs have been anchored only on self-awareness, human development and capacity building. Or of what use are natural resources without the required human ingenuity to transform and add value to these forms of capital? However, human inventiveness though might be intrinsic, does not come to bear on its own without proper enlightenment achieved through appropriate tutelage, grooming and training.

A country that denies itself the opportunity to develop its manpower or frustrates mechanisms/avenues to grow its human resources only does so at its own peril. The lowest level of human development stems from the basic form of education which is essential for the existence of other rungs, up the education ladder. Therefore, it follows that all apparatuses (be it human, social and technical) that support the establishment and sustainability of this primary structure, should be considered vital. Incidentally within this structure, the human factor also distinguishes itself as very high-ranking. Sadly, the Nigerian government either seems to be oblivious of this significance or deliberately neglects such.

Recently Nigerian teachers in government-owned schools laid down tools as they embarked on a nationwide industrial action. Their grievances? Non-implementation of the new salary scheme by the federal and state government, as agreed by all stakeholders. This leaves a bitter taste in the mouth if the larger corollary of this quagmire is considered. We have come through this path before and I cease not to wonder why and for how long we would continue not to get our priorities sorted out?

In branching through any tree of development, the position of teachers can never be over-looked or over-emphasised. Teachers are strategic to national development as they (being human themselves) are equipped with the capabilities to establish and expand capacity for human development on which any other form of development rests. These special people pass across knowledge; while instilling life values and morals that are necessary to take an individual through life. Hence, the least any right-thinking government should do is to create a working environment and provide appropriate incentives for its teachers. Nevertheless, Nigerian teachers are presently at logger-heads over payment of wages based on a recent jointly agreed salary structure. Scrutinising the controversial salary structure shows all the teachers’ union is demanding is a far cry from any form of luxury as this can still barely make the teachers comfortable.

It is this form of prolonged abandonment that has totally dispirited and dampened the morale of a lot of teachers at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, nationwide. It must be stated here that this neglect is not characteristic of the education sector alone. The disregard sleaze runs through all facets of our polity. It is sad to imagine that years down the line, pupils under the guidance of our teachers have a greater assurance of enjoying a more comfortable living standard than their teachers. The obvious life of lack, dejection and penury that our teachers live make their wards never consider teaching as a profession that guarantees a secure livelihood. The only consolation teachers seem to enjoy is seeing how successful their former students turn out to be. Nonetheless, this feeling no matter how invaluable would not put food on their tables or pay their bills.

A candidate during the last presidential elections once campaigned for teachers to be the most highly-paid workers in the country. This might seem like a big joke for any dimwit that is ignorant of the indispensability of teachers. It must be reiterated that until we get the teachers’ project right, any attempt at national development will only be futile. Government should increase investment in the education sector, if not for the sake of the teachers themselves but at least for the continuance existence and development of human capital.

The Yar’Adua government should be conscious of the fact that the realisation of its seven-point agenda and ambitious Vision 20:20:20 programme can only be successful when driven by requisite manpower. Unfortunately, manpower does not fall from the sky. It is developed through the smith workshop of mass education and human empowerment. Education is the only guarantee and pointer to journeying to the Promised Land.

A continual dwindling investment in our education sector (which entails provision of essential welfare for its actors; creation of enabling and conducive working environment; and upgrading of necessary facilities) will not only create an army of disgruntled teachers, seasonal deadlocks and/or idle students but the eventual death of fundamental human capital.

Comments are welcome.


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your write is right, but a little 'unrealistic, the basis for a proper education is not teaching but respect , I like your blog, although I certainly miss many nuances, sorry i'm Italian