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Missing in action: Slack lecturers are messing up students’ education

14 November 2022
Reading time: 4 minutes

Students at the College of Education Bama are missing out on learning and getting an education because lecturers can’t be bothered to turn up to teach them.

Years ago the college in Borno State was closed because of the insurgency that has raged in northeast Nigeria for just on 13 years. However, it was reopened in March last year.

A student, Ahmadu Buba, told RNI reporter Aisha Jamal that the low turnout of lecturers and other academics was a major stumbling block in their attempt to get an education and it was messing with their studies.

He said: “When the college reopened about 70% of our lecturers used to turn up for classes but, now, it is the opposite. Some lecturers come in only two or three times in a semester. Some never come to the college at all. We are not happy with what is happening because some of us come from far away to study and these lecturers are messing with our education. It is very discouraging.”

Babagana Zanna Audu, a lecturer in the geography department of the college, said the low turnout of lecturers had started when the learning institution was reopened.

“We used to live in peace but then attacks by insurgents, mainly by Boko Haram [Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād – JAS] chased us away from our community. Boko Haram members used to attack us, the students and the college. Some of our staff, both academic and non-academic, were killed, some went missing and have not been heard of since then. We still don’t know where they are or if they are still alive. They just disappeared. Because of the attacks, the rest of us who survived relocated to Maiduguri and other places.

“When peace was restored in Bama, the government allowed us to return and continue our work here. We resumed lecturing in March last year. The college is about 6km or 7km out of Bama town. We were grateful to return to our community and our work. But things have not yet returned to normal. We are hoping this will happen soon.”

Audu said some lecturers lived in Bama, while other were based in Maiduguri. They lectured at the college and then returned to the capital city.

Responding to the complaints by students about the “missing” lecturers, Audu said that when the insurgency hit Bama years ago, the students were divided into two. Female students were taken to Maiduguri because of the insecurity. At that time the insurgents used to kidnap female students so, for safety reasons, we moved them to Maiduguri. But as relative peace returned, they moved back to Bama.

“It was a bit like starting from scratch. Many of the lecturers did not return. Some returned but do not always show up for lectures. So, we definitely are short-staffed. And I know that is upsetting for students. But many students also have not returned.

“Since the college reopened some departments have only seven or eight students; the maximum of students for any department is between 17 and 20. It is very disappointing that so few students have returned. I think they might still be afraid something might happen to them because the attacks were rife.”

Audu said the college was not giving up and neither had all the lecturers. The bad turnout of both students and lecturers was disappointing. But, he said, the college was admitting new students, so that was a “good sign”.

“We used to have students from Bama, Adamawa, Askira-Uba, Biu, Hawul, Shani, Gwoza and many places but it’s not the same now. We have challenges and have informed the Borno State education ministry about what is needed, such a more lecturers, laboratory equipment and hostels to accommodate the students.

“The insurgency affected the whole education system in such a manner that many institutions are lacking lecturers as some have retired, some have died, and others have resigned,” said Audu.

“I want college students to know that many other institutions apart from our own are also affected. At present, we are undergoing a staff audit verification process. When that is concluded we will get sufficient academics in all the institutions.

“We need to be patient because we are all working together for the betterment of the education system,” Audu said.


About the author

Aisha Sd Jamal