Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Boko Haram is Ignorant, Says Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has said members of Boko Haram, in their opposition to western education, are ignorant of the teachings of Islam.
Soyinka, who spoke Monday in Port Harcourt as chairman of the opening ceremony of the Third Rivers State Education Summit, noted that some of the world’s greatest philosophers and mathematicians were Muslims.
He expressed regret that a group of people felt they were educated to say western education was wrong.
He said: “Those who call themselves Boko Haram, for instance, yes they claim to be educated; educated to mean books, and they are not sufficient, even about their religion to know that some of the greatest philosophers came from that religion, some of the greatest mathematicians were the pioneers Muslims, Islamic scholars.
“So these killers roaming around saying that they hate western education, they are uneducated; but they think they are educated. They have been taught on a monorail – one track lane. But they need to be re-educated even about their own history, their own culture.”
Soyinka also decried the sorry state of education in the country, noting that people now equate cultism with fraternities.
He said the situation had become so bad that a vice-chancellor of a university had to take extra measures to restore sanity to his institution.

“The rot in tertiary institutions is trickling down to other levels of education in the country,” he said, adding that urgent steps needed to be taken by government at all levels to clean up the rot in the system.
He called for a multi-pronged approach to education in the country, adding that close supervision was necessary to achieve results.
“When people talk about the multi-pronged approach, I agree and I approve of the attempts being made to create the so-called Almajiri schools which should be supervised – the content and the method of teaching should be supervised,” he said.
He called on the Federal Government to take issues of security seriously to provide the necessary atmosphere for learning.
“At the same time, however, to impact knowledge, you have to have the heads where they belong for the knowledge to be imparted. So at the same time, talk about amnesty as much as you want, but you have to catch those who are trying to take the heads off where we are supposed to impact knowledge,” he

He called for the re-education of members of Boko Haram who are caught, but added that those who are recalcitrant should be punished according to the law.

Soyinka said: “When you catch them, you have to re-educate them very seriously. If they refuse to be re-educated, you must punish them. I am not sentimental at all.
“The society must first of all protect itself and the citizens must be taught how to protect their society, how to ensure their own survival. So let’s not be sentimental at all about this.
“I want to see the head into which I can put in the material (knowledge). I want to be sure that teachers are not being slaughtered for following their vocation. Those teachers must be protected. The universities must be reopened, the schools must be reopened.”
Soyinka commended the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, for his achievements in education, but urged him not to feel despondent because of some of the challenges inflicted by teachers and other managers who try to subvert the system.
In his speech, Amaechi, said it was necessary to look beyond the fa├žade of the beautiful buildings and facilities put in place by his administration to boost education.
He expressed concern that despite the directive by his government that no pupil in the state’s primary schools should pay fees, some teachers were still forcing them to pay fees.
He also noted that teachers were not making use of the ICT and other facilities in the schools, adding that the state House of Assembly was already working on a bill on quality assurance in the school system.

In her welcome address, the state Commissioner for Education, Ms. Alice Lawrence-Nemi, said the summit was the third in the series in five years, and was expected to come up with recommendations which “when properly implemented will give Rivers’ children access to education that will enable them fit into and adequately face the challenges of the 21st century.”


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