By Sotubo Olajide (HND, AATWA)
Education is the bedrock of nation building and upon it, the growth and development of such nation is established. Unfortunately, since the Nigerian government has taken over the education system in the 80’s, there has been a drastic fall in the standard of education: poor management, unprofessional teachers, lack of infrastructural facilities, inadequate apparatus and equipment, poor learning environment, examination malpractice, etc. increase on daily basis compared to the 40’s when the missionaries were at the helm of affairs of our education system which matched up to what was obtainable in foreign nations. It was considered one of the best worldwide.
Before the Europeans arrived, education had been part of Nigerians. Children were taught about their cultures, norms and values, social activities, survival skills and work, most of which were impacted into them informally. Fewer societies gave a more formal teaching of their cultures and norms thus, the foundations of education in Nigeria were laid and western education only built on them.
At this time, European education over-ruled our informal system. Standard educational institutions were set up, managed and regulated by the missionaries. The British colonial government only funded a few schools and the policy of the government was to give grants to mission schools rather than expand the system. This was the period we had qualitative and sound education system. It was the time jobs awaited graduates. There were no cultism in our institutions, no insubordination between teachers and students, there were good student – teacher relationships, proper moral training, etc. In general, we enjoyed qualitative education.The primary and secondary schools served as the foundation for solid education which the missionaries understood and developed properly.
However, the decline in the education system began to manifest in the 80’s and 90’s when schools were fully taken-over by the government. The foundation of education in Nigeria upon which the Europeans laid the western-style education, and the structured education system the missionaries laid down began to collapse.
Rising with the shortage of qualified teachers; the few qualified ones were not paid timely. The number of schools did not grow with the population and many of the existing schools were under-funded resulting in poor maintenance. Universities faced inadequate funding which led to shortage of space and resources, limited apparatus and equipment, inadequate infrastructures and worst of all, certificates became meal tickets. Increase in tuition fees often resulted in protests that became violent riots and complete shut down of academic activities. Industrial actions by members of staff (academic and non-academic) requesting for salary increment, better welfare packages and better working conditions also compounded the situations.
The decline in the education system was primarily because of the lackadaisical attitude of the government and the inability to maintain the outstanding legacies laid down by the missionaries and some of their proteges like Chief Obafemi Awolowo who introduced free education to strengthen the education system with a view to ensuring that every citizen benefited from the government.
Poor planning contributed to the decline too. The government may have outlined some plans to rebuild and restructure the education system but these plans were with little or no actions for implementation neither was there effective monitoring and evaluation system.
Professors and Educationist have lamented the decline in the education system to non-listening leaders who understand the relevance of education in nation building and passionate about bringing back its glory but all effort seems to be abortive. Instead of making the standardization of the education system of the country a priority, more priority has been given to other sectors such as the entertainment industry, tourism among others. Multi-national organizations have also failed in directing their investment to education as it is to entertainment such as: Project Fame, Nigerian Idol, Naija Sings, Gulder Ultimate Search and Maltina Dance All etc.
Recently, I was going through the modules of one the tertiary institutions in Nigeria and it is vexatious to discover that these modules are outdated; and lectures are delivered using them. Let me take you through accounting which I am a product of. Most of our tertiary institutions still deliver lectures based on Statement of Accounting Standard (SAS) while the recent trend in the profession (accounting) is the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education does nothing to rectify the deficiencies. This has limited the exposure of graduates to the recent trends and developments in their chosen careers. The implication of this is that graduates become unemployable while certifications almost become irrelevant which results in waste of years of study. Approximately, 75% of the graduate may likely abandon the meal ticket certifications and diverse while 25% of the graduates are interested to start learning new trends and developments in order to become relevant and fit in the labor market. Most graduates now lack the necessary survival and social skills that should have been learnt in schools.
Nigeria Education system no longer holds value. Products of Nigeria education system are no longer employable, causing massive unemployment and under-development in the country and leading to increased poverty rate.
To be continued next week Saturday
By Sotubo Olajide (HND, AATWA)