The Dwindling Fortune of Nigeria’s Educational System By Amaechi Emmanuel

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Education is a key component of a societal growth all over the world. The level of development of any nation, is dependent on how educated its citizenry are. Education is the process by which the mind develops through learning at school, college, or university —– i.e., a formal education. There’s no legacy a parent or a nation can bequeath its people, if not a functional formal education which is a catalyst for a desired social-political, economic and cultural transform.

In developed nations of the world — Germany, America etc, the achievement in science and technology is a great mile stone; the technological base is driven by research works conducted by (through) the educational sector. Knowing the imperativeness and value of education, countries such as America, the U.K, Japan, and Germany invests huge resources to sustainable functional education. Today, Singapore is rated as a First World Nation. This feat is no unconnected to the revolutionary activities of Lee Kwan Yew’s leadership —- which overhauled the Singaporean educational system and brought the country to lime light.

Education is a light against the darkness of ignorance. It lightens the path laced with primitive ideologies and bunkers of maladjusted species of men. A torchlight that beams in the heart of the most barbaric and uncivilized elements who constitute the human person, is education. Formal training in schools exposes a person to the world unknown, and leads to self-discovery, realization and actualization. The book is the most terrific, potent weapon against the forces of mediocrity, inefficiency, and ignorance. Whoever finds and accesses a functional formal education, has found a pearl cast on trophies of gold, and is armed with a truth that can lead to a life of fulfillment.

The question then is what is Nigeria’s educational system like? What are the woes that have befallen the nation’s intellectual manpower? Are there some forms of mental capital flight as a result of the doldrums in our educational policies?

There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is blessed with natural and manpower resources. But how these have been harnessed for the betterment of the citizens leaves one in the lurch. It is on record that a great number of the best hands in American hospitals as doctors and other important sectors of the economy of the United States are Nigerians; many teachers and lecturers in the U.K are said to be Nigerians; and, many a U.K students, are Nigerians as well. It is not a moon light tale that in China and other countries, Nigerians are taking the lead in all human endeavours. When the name of those in the diaspora from Africa is called, Nigerians make the top list. From Philip Emeagwali to Eni Njoku Jrn, and still counting, Nigerians are the top notch in what they do oversea. The question is “why are these people comfortable where they are” —– either as students or lecturers? What have the government and people done to those societies that are capable of making whoever gets there to feel at ease, work, school, and lecture without qualms, or even thinking about home? The answer is as correct as your assessment, and these questions are as important as the answer you proffer and accept.

Our educational system has fallen short of the standard. There are a number of factors militating against our educational system which if not addressed wholesale, is bound to wreak havoc on the economy and continuous mental capital flight being experienced in the country. When a person or a people understand the value of a thing, the attention given to that thing will be religious. We don’t value education, and it’s evident on the way and manner educational activities and policies are carried out. The 2017 budget has a token of 50 billion assigned to education while FCT and interior ministries received 37 and 63 billion respectively. Only God knows what is being done at the FCT and the interior ministry. A government that attaches high premium on education will budget a humongous sum to such an important sector. But where the people and their government don’t see education as a matter of life and death, only too small should be expected from graduates by employers of labour. Why is there no trust in our graduates by employers of labour. Why are their efficiency and proficiency tested? Why the series of examinations conducted for job seekers; to ascertain their intellectual worth? So many have long lose fate on the standard of our educational system, and the institutions that produced the students.

 

Haven’t we seen the result of this laissez-faire attitude of our government to education? Of course, you and I know full well the root this has done to students who are been shunned out every year by colleges and universities. It is disheartening that a no mean person such as NUC’s secretary General, Professor Julius Okoji can assert that “Nigerian graduates are not employable. Many of the graduates are perceived to lack the skills needed by the employers of labour.” How can they be employable when the institutions that produced them lack the basic requisite tools that will make a graduate fit for the labour market?

It is no rhetoric that some Nigerian graduates of mechanical engineering cannot fix a car engine, let alone be able to dissect a machine. When the laboratory under which he studied has no equipment or habour outdated one, how can we be righteous enough to blame the engineer?

Poor funding of education; poor implementation of educational policies and programmes, poor attitude to school work, corruption, greed, avarice and unfettered graft in governments offices have in no small way done harm to the Nigerian educational system. There is the dearth of infrastructure and other amenities in our schools. Students are often seen packed like sardine in classroom. In 2010, a joint effort of UNESCO and UNICEF revealed that well over four million Nigerian girls between the ages of six and eleven have no access to education of any kind. In the same light, the Federal Ministry of Education maintained that seventeen million Nigeria children are out of school. It’s on record that out of 800,000 candidates who sat for JAMB in 2005 only 18.4% were admitted into the university. WAEC in 2012 released a shocking result which showed that 80% of 324199.8 candidates who sat the exam got credits in mathematics and English. This desultory performance is not the devil’s doing.

 

Examination malpractice is a cankerworm which has esteem deadly into our educational system. The proliferation of “miracle” and “special” centers where results are sold to students for no hard work is a trend capable of ruining the future of our youths. Parents aid and abet malpractice in order to get their children or ward into school, not minding the consequences either now, or later. Our reading culture is fast fading away. Whoever is seen reading and working hard is termed “a snail”. Get it quick syndrome has characterized our lifestyle as students and this is not without its negative returns as the Nigeria landscape is full of graduates who cannot speak simple correct English (the case of a corpse member which is trending on social media now); trousers apes in the name of graduates; people bereft moral rectitude, who gets into the larger society to discover that their bearing is not among the sons of men. The future of our educational system is so oblique that we know not what holds for a typical young university graduate.

There’s no problem however tough that does not have solution. Firstly, our government should make education a priority. There should be a law on compulsory basic education. A single control and uniformity of educational system in Nigeria will go a long way to creating sustainability and efficiency in our education system. Sufficient remuneration of all teachers in the country, training and re-training them, and adequate reform of these teachers to avoid favoritism of any shape is the way to go. These will help to curtail the incessant industrial actions always embarked upon by ASSU or NUJ – which has never helped matters.

More so, apprenticeship based programs, work-based learning programs which are geared toward young school leavers to keep them engaged should be incorporated into our curriculum —- as it’s done in other climes. Parent needs to encourage their wards/children to work hard and not follow short cut to success.

 

The poor standard of education in Nigeria stemmed from varieties of factors that are revertible, and which have been identified above. A nation built on the grounds of mediocre citizens should never dream of developing or competing with other nations of the world who make education a priority. By the time our institution starts producing students who are politically aware, morally upright, mental sound, physically fit, and social adjusted to handle the socioeconomic and political realities confronting our societies today, then, we can start talking about repositioning our educational system.

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