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English language as taught in schools: The Rigasa experience

By: Abdulazeez Alhassan

Rigasa is a suburban community located in the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State. It is the biggest community in the state, and arguably the largest ward in Northern Nigeria.

The community was largely dominated by Fulani, Gbagyi, Hausa, Atyap, and Ikulu in the late 1980s and 1990s. There was mutual respect, understanding among the tribes, hence this brought economic, social and human development. Almost everybody then could speak simple English. This was due to the combination of different tribes in the community.

There were few schools in the community as at then. But the exciting part of it was that the teachers were hardworking and dedicated to their duties. In addition, no teacher spoke any language apart from English in the schools. This made the students focus and concentrate on their learning, hence resulting in great achievements in terms of communication skills, writing skills, and creativeness among the students.

Comparing Rigasa in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and Rigasa in 2010s-2021, one can boldly say that there is a significant decrement in the way students and teachers communicate in the English Language. It is a well-known fact that English is the acceptable medium of instruction and communication in Schools, Colleges, and Universities in Nigeria. So, the position of the English Language in Nigeria coupled with the roles it plays compels every Nigerian to learn and speak it.

In Contrast with Rigasa of today, students develop a low interest in learning. Some students and teachers do not communicate in English. While some teachers are unprofessional, unskilled, and not passionate about the job, some proprietors are not ready to employ skilled, professional, and qualified teachers. In the same vein, parents also contribute to worsening the situation through their unwillingness to pay and support schools for quality education to reign.

There is a need for continued partnership between the government and the private sector. Partnership in assisting the government in accommodating the ever-increasing population of students. For example, you can find more than 100 students in a class in public schools, which makes it clumsy for the teacher to control. The smartness of students also counts, which is glaringly absent in public schools.

For Rigasa to regain and sustain its initial quality education, there is a need for the community and stakeholders like the Ministry of Education, P.T.A, SBMC, and individual parents to put aside tribal and political differences and help their children through effective monitoring, supervision, and inspection of schools. National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools(NAPPS), on their part, should do enough to ensure they only employ qualified and skilled teachers, just as are absent in some public schools. They should as well set up a committee for supervision, and any school found wanting should be reported to appropriate authorities.

More so, Kaduna State Government and Igabi Local Government should double their efforts through the School Quality Assurance Authority, to ensure students in Rigasa can read, write and communicate in English, besides paying regular unannounced supervisory and inspection visits to schools within the Rigasa community.

Conclusively, parents of students in private schools should also play their role by paying their children school fees as at when due and monitoring how the activities of teaching and learning are carried out in those schools.

Abdulazeez Alhassan is a Journalist, Author, Teacher, and Poet. He can be reached via 08132888688, axeexx67@gmail.com

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