Nigeria Educational System: Adrift, Needs Urgent Attention

by Paul Ogwu Okwuchukwu

Our educational system is in shambles. We can see that in the result of WAEC and NECO in the part two years and the products from our universities and polytechnics. We are in an increasingly competitive world where the correct training and development of the human resource is vital for the growth and development of any society. For Nigeria to join the emerging global powers and develop its economy, it must look at her educational system. The country must do a critical assessment of the educational system, look at the problems, and try to find a solution. This is the path towards achieving a sustainable, productive and competitive work force.

The problem with our educational system is that it is a product of the Nigerian system. We should look at it from the pervasive corruption in the land, erosion of our value system, lack of good governance, bad policy implementation and the over importance placed on certificates. These and some others factors have made the educational system in Nigeria not only weak but also dangerous. We should not treat education as if it is different from every other sector .It is the same environment were most of the basic things are not working the way it should be. We have adopted the same principle and culture in every thing we do. Almost all the stakeholders in our educational system have a share of the blame, the government, the teachers, the administrators, the students and the society. According to Rueben Abati in his article on educational standard in Nigeria.. ’the country is a victim also of the collapse of values, bottom-up and top-to-bottom, blame the politicians who steal public resources and live ostentatiously; the administrators who steal the funds meant for the education sector, the religious leaders who preach the message of miracles and prosperity and parents who are willing to help their children cheat….” The current blame game on 6-6-3-4 system of education will not solve the problem. Any system we adopt with the same mindset will equally result in the same situation. In almost all the sphere and sectors in Nigeria, we have good policies but our implementation of these polices are always faulty. We are in a society that no longer respects merit and hard work; but easy assess and admiration to unaccounted wealth, culture of lawlessness and faulty value system. Students and other stakeholders adopt short measures towards addressing the problems. This can be seen in the rampant examination malpractice, recruitment of unqualified teachers, inadequate funding and where funding is available outright embezzlement and corruption.

The other stakeholders are equally guilty. The teachers and the school administrators try as much as possible to survive from the difficult economics environment there by compromising the standards. Added to this is that most of them are not qualified or trained to be educators and teachers. They found their way to the classrooms by accident. Moreover, they are equally products of the same faulty educational system. As for the students, they see what the elders do and the value system common in the society. Their parents and the society does not see anything wrong in falsehood, applying short cut ,corruption, lying, cheating and over reliance on the results instead of a sustainable process. A society that sees certificate as sources of status symbol, assess to wealth and recognition. A society that do not question the process; but accepts the product no matter how ethical wrong or bad they appear. Examination malpractices take place under such environment. We place so much emphasis on certificate as against moral, skills, values and knowledge. Our leaders it seems may not be ready to make tangible contribution to improve the educational system This is because their wards are scattered in virtually all the universities around the globe in UK,US,Canada,Austrialia,New Zealand,South Aftrica,UAE,Ghana,Malasia and other countries.

The rate of failure of the candidates in the educational system is a reflection of not only the students, their teachers, the government and the parents but also the society. The students have neglected reading and preparation for examinations instead they depend on examination malpractice.

It is also criminal that we fail to observe or implement any known recommendation by the international bodies as regards funding. We should know that they are acceptable standards in terms of investment in the educational system and establish an acceptable mechanism towards the monitoring and standardisation of the whole system. We may be breading some sets of dangerous individuals that may turn out to be a threat in the near future. An ill-educated individual will make our society unsafe. We should do a through analysis towards identifying the problem that have engulfed our educational system and find a lasting solution towards redeeming the hope of our country. Demographically, the bulk of our population is in our youth. Incidentally, they also constitute our labour force and the bedrock we need to build on if we are to compete in an increasing global world.

To help us achieve this, the government and other stakeholders need to address some of the pressing problems. Just as we talk of the energy sector and the need to declare a state of emergency in that sector; it is important that we tackle the issue of education This is because education, power and improved infrastructure are the major sectors that can effectively drive our economy and liberate us from the shackles of underdevelopment. Education is the bedrock of any thriving society but unfortunately, ours is in a serious dilapidated state and needs urgent revolution and transformation. For us to achieve this we need to look at it from a holistic view.

We need to seriously look at our value system and some of the things the society promote knowingly and unknowingly like materialism, pervasive corruption in all segment of the society including family units. The type of individuals we see as models and our cultural orientation. Added to this is the reliance on other means of passing exams and achieving success without the good old virtue of hard work.

Apart from our value system, we should also look at the corrupt system pervading the entire system from the government to the teachers and all other stakeholders. We should know that we are playing with a vital resource. The government should also fully implement a comprehensive educational system that lays emphasis on skill, values, scientific and technological training, apprentice and entrepreneurial training. We should reduce the emphasis on certificates. We should set up structures that will help the country establish skill and semi-skilled workforce for the informal sector. This will help reduce the level of poverty and reduce the high rate of unemployment. It is becoming increasingly noticeable that the informal sector is the engine room of economic development and emancipation. The parents and the society should also find a way of encouraging students to cultivate a reading culture and the establishment of community base libraries. In addition to training centres to cater for the population, it also needs to encourage the private sectors to invest in research and development. Let us try to get the foundation right and provide an enabling environment for education to thrive and help the society.

We may be sitting on a time bomb if we do not act now. In addition, we should forget about development if we do not get our human resource on the right path. Mineral resource does not guarantee development.

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