Reflections on the Future of Education in Aguleri

Prof. Timothy Wangusa in his poem, The Taxi Driver on His Death wrote about a taxi driver who when with prophetic eye peered into the future and saw what the future held for him. I discuss the future of education in Aguleri obviously not with prophetic eyes because I am neither a prophet nor a son of a prophet but an ordinary Nwa Aguleri. I discuss it using the observable facts of the past and present. A friend of mine can boast of many informed quotations in his repertoire but his most favoured quotation has been that when the past is studied and compared with the present, the future could reliably be predicted.
This article might be criticized of highlighting the doom while disregarding the boom in education in Aguleri. This is far from the truth.  It is self evident that the great leaders and sons of Aguleri have in their various capacities promoted education in Aguleri either by their selfless motivational deeds or by attending to countless financial needs. We pray God’s blessings on them; amen.
The stance of this piece is a call to unflinching actions from Ndibeanyi because the state of affairs in education in Aguleri today leaves more to be desired. Pessimism in some cases is preferred to optimism. The taciturn president of Russia, Vladimir Putin in a conference differentiated between an optimist and a pessimist thus: a pessimist drinks his cognac and says, “It smells of bedbugs,” while an optimist catches a bedbug, crushes it, then sniffs it and says, “A slight whiff of cognac.” Putin said that he would rather be the pessimist who drinks cognac than the optimist who sniffs bedbugs. Everybody laughed.
Aguleri is our own. I could still remember at the age of 10, how I appreciated God for creating me an African, a Nigerian and an Agulerian! I wonder if I can still do so today. At that age, I couldn’t imagine another place that was better than my Africa, Nigeria and Aguleri.
Let me give you this surprise, I still appreciate God for my Africa, Nigeria and above all, Aguleri because Home is home, they often say. I extended it further that home is home, even if you live in Rome. It is our responsibility to build Rome out of Aguleri; and it starts now. Rome, they also said was not built in a day. If Romans could build Rome, then we can build Aguleri.
Mandela once wrote that education is the great engine of…development. Based on this, one could safely conclude that the journey to developing Aguleri rests squarely on the health of education in the community. The one million dollar question here remains: Is education in Aguleri healthy?
Observable Challenges to Education in Aguleri
Some of the challenges to education in Aguleri discussed below are based on personal observation of the writer and the shared concerns of friends and colleagues who are also Ndibeanyi. They lay no claim to any formal statistical ancestry. Even at that, we are convinced that no valid investigation would disprove these positions.
1.       Increased Secondary School Dropout Rates:  In one of the previous volumes of Asa Voice, yours sincerely wrote a title, “Brain Drain in Aguleri.” It was written in limerick form, lamenting the exodus of the youths of Aguleri that were within school age, to foreign lands pursuing money instead of education. Personally, I am not against pursuit of money but it needs not precede the pursuit of education. As a matter of fact, money is germane in life. The Latinists would say, “absque argento omnia vana;” (Without money, everything is in vain). But, first things should come first!
Most of our youths could not complete their secondary school education either because of pursuit of money or marriage. Education generally is seen as a waste of time. Given this orientation, is education in Aguleri healthy?
2.       Low Enrolment Rate into Tertiary Institutions: Consequent upon the increased secondary school dropout rates as well as other factors, the rate of enrolment of Agulerians into tertiary institutions is low. Rev. Fr. Dr. Ekwenze of the blessed memory was glad when I invited him to address Aguleri Students Association, ANSU, Igbariam Branch. He asked of our number and I told him.  “Wonderful, so good, so our people now go to school,” he said. I was surprised that even with our low number then, he was impressed. And yes, that was during the golden years of enrolment of Agulerians into tertiary institutions which was made possible by Mr. Anthony Okagbue, Prof. A.B.I Udedibia and the host of others. These personalities have not relented. Their efforts need to be complemented so as to achieve the required rate of enrolment of Ndibeanyi into tertiary institutions. The enrolment rate is still very low and if such is the case, is education in Aguleri healthy?
3.       Lack of Community Sponsored Library: No one denies the fact that the provision of education facilities such as schools, laboratory equipments, libraries, etc, is in the domain of the government. Suffice to here also is that no legislation on education in Nigeria gives government the exclusive power in the provision of education facilities. Communities, villages and other groups often times take to self-help, providing themselves what the government could not provide.
My interest here is on the library. Aguleri has none, and Aguleri needs at least one. The presence of a community library would ignite the zeal to read in the mind of our youth. Aguleri has all it takes to build, equip and maintain a functional library. If Aguleri could not muster a functional community library, is education in Aguleri healthy?
4.       Unsatisfactory Students’ Attitude to Education: The poor attitude to academic excellence on our side as the students is unimaginably, devastating. The younger ones that look up to us, more often than not, get disillusioned. They are fed with wrong signals about education. Would they be motivated to go to school where the ‘seemingly educated’ brothers and sisters could not excel in their chosen field? Academic excellence gives you the qualities of a golden fish. You would be sought after and the younger ones would be motivated to be like you! Zik promoted this as a slogan; “Show the light and they will follow.”  If we couldn’t motivate our young ones to join us in school, is education in Aguleri healthy?
5.       Absence of Community Sponsored Bursary and Scholarship Awards: I am aware of scholarship awards accessible to a village in Aguleri; and also another one available to Ndibeanyi that chose to study Accountancy. These are good; but, nothing stops Aguleri from having a pool of resources for bursary and scholarship awards. The resources could be made available by individual persons’ donations, age grades’ contributions and solicited government’s nominations. There are Ndibeanyi that love education and perform excellently in it but, who are presently out of school due to their financial standing.  If such is the case, is education in Aguleri healthy?
One needs no soothsayer to tell that the future of education in Aguleri and the overall development of Aguleri are in danger given these ugly trends discussed above. Two things one could do with the future are either to predict it or to invent it. We have attempted the prediction while calling for the invention. We can invent what the future of education in particular and development in general, of Aguleri would become; and the time is now.
Malignant diseases in the early stage are difficult to diagnose but are easy to cure while in the later stage are easy to diagnose but are difficult to cure. We have run the diagnosis which has prepared grounds for the therapy on the education in Aguleri.
This is a call to duty from Ndibeanyi. Everyone has a role to play. Aguleri kweenu!


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