The first time I read the most fascinating insight about how scientists zeroed in on the individual who has the answer to global poverty was in Paul Tough’s popular book “How Children Succeed.”
Soon everyone began to share the groundbreaking research. Malcolm Gladwell, for example, mentioned it while explaining the “theory of puzzles and mysteries” during his talk at the World Governments Summit in Dubai in February this year.
The interesting insight is this: the teacher holds the key to end global poverty.
You may think that there’s nothing new here. Because education has for long been correlated with income. The higher the educational attainment, the more income.
For example, someone who finished only secondary school earns less than someone with a bachelor’s who also earns less than someone with a master’s degree. There are of course exceptions but this is the pattern.
So this is nothing new. What is novel about this idea is the fact that research has isolated the factor that has the effect within the complex educational system of many variables (curriculum, classrooms, equipment, books, library, teaching styles, IQ, etc.)
Research says if education lowers poverty, what matters most or who matters more than anyone in this “education” is the teacher.
If this holds, then does it make sense to just populate our communities with teachers and wait for poverty to end?
No. The research has shown that the teacher who has this kind of power is the good teacher. Does it then follow that we should do all we can to nurture good teachers?
Yes. And that’s exactly what Niger State government is doing under Governor Abubakar Sani Bello.
With the inputs of numerous experts in the state, the Governor poked the issue with a two-pronged solution.
One, while some claim that his Whole School Renovation programme of unity secondary schools is his biggest achievement, there’s something associated with that program that’s even more strategic. The government didn’t stop at completely redoing the classes and hostels of students, it also went to the teachers’ houses and turned their uncomfortable duelings into befitting and humane quarters to the extent that teachers homes were furnished with new furniture.
No government had done anything like that in the history of Niger State. This gives the teachers the comfort and the message that they are and valued members of the society. Which, we hope, will encourage them to be the kind of good teachers that will end global poverty.
The second strategy of government was to assemble educational experts in the state to fashion solutions to poor quality of instruction and the poor attendance of teachers in rural schools. The panel of experts, which included Hajiya Dije Bala and the late Professor Ibrahim Adamu Kolo, came with the idea that a secondary school should be opened in each of the three senatorial districts.
The chief goal of the schools is to prepare the teachers of tomorrow. One of the schools has already been opened in Munya local government area. The first time I saw the school, I thought it was a three-star hotel. The hostels are better than some of the expensive private boarding schools of Abuja.
But what was more surprising was when the first set celebrated their end of the year day last July. The students spoke such polished English you wouldn’t know that they were tutored in a public school.
What makes me even happier is the fact that the 275 wards in Niger State are represented in that school which not only makes it a unity school but also gives the hope that after government sponsored the students through secondary and tertiary institutions, they will go back to their villages and teach. And be great teachers. They types who are going to end global poverty.
– Death of the man who gave me my first million-naira job
Some time in 2015, while representing Gov. Abubakar Sani Bello at the Federal University of Technology Minna, I told the audience that it was a privilege to sit among my mentors.
Including Prof. Ibrahim Adamu Kolo, I told them, who gave me my first consulting gig from a Nigerian higher institution.
What I didn’t tell them was that it was also my first million naira job from a single source.
Some people complained to me about him, but I found him to be infinitely resourceful, creative.
When he was the vice chancellor of IBB University Lapai, he told me that the university had to face the reality that many new universities were being started in the country. Therefore, the lecturers who were not indigenes of Niger State would leave IBBUL and go back go to their states to fill new positions opening up.
So he started to develop local human capital – a scheme which I thought was brilliant.
He recruited young men and women most of whom graduated with good bachelor’s degrees; most of whom graduated from his own university and gave them conditional job offers. That is, he would make them permanent staff if they completed their post-graduate degrees.
He didn’t stop there. He used TETFUND to sponsor those students abroad. The first set he sent were more than 20. I know because I trained them. Those students now have completed their degrees and doing great things at IBBUL.
May Allah forgive Professor Kolo and grant him His choicest paradise.