The Nigerian Educational System –A Deceitful View

by Churchill Okonkwo

The Belgian investor and scientist Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plato (1801-1883)

Pioneered one of the first devices aimed at making pictures that seemed to move. Plateau studied various optical illusions that seemed to result from the persistence of the image on the retina of the eye after the image has passed from view. In 1832, he built an apparatus consisting of a flat wheel on which were sequential images of a dancer dancing. When the wheel was turned, the dancer was “seen” to execute the dance. Plateau chose a revealing name for his invention. He called it a “phenakistiscope”, meaning “deceitful view”. These images did not move, but they looked like they did.

In Nigeria, the educational sector is similar to the flat wheel on which were sequential images of students going to school, studying for JAMB, NECO, WAEC and degree exams. When examinations were conducted (as the wheel is turned), the students were “seen” to pass their exams. But in reality, the students do not pass – the majority (about 70%)- but they looked like they did. What I intend to do here is to give an overview of the degree of rottenness and decay in the educational system in Nigeria – an insiders view of the inside.

I can still recall how I and my classmates then at St. Charles Special Science School Onitsha, discussed the options of the courses we are to choose and how we battled to overcome our O’level and make good score in our JAMB. I remember how we studied hard with healthy competition that brought out the best in us. Those good days are however gone.

I gained admission simultaneously at university of Nigeria Nsukka and Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) simultaneously, without recourse to seeking for “connections” or “admission agents” or “syndicates” that sell admissions to the highest bidder. I never struggled for accommodation. I enjoyed lectures with elaborate practical on chemistry and physics. I had free access to petrographic microscope and slides for the thin section analysis in my early years as an undergraduate at the Geology Department at Nsukka then, something I didn’t see during my 4-year masters’ degree programme at FUTO.

The realization that the continents are mobile and not fixed in position and the discovery of the process driving the mobility is one of the great scientific achievements of the 20th century. It was the discovery that the extent ion centers of higher institutions were making mockery of the degree awarded in universities that led to the government to ban all such activities. There are still uncountable discoveries that have to be made, first at the national educational scene. I believe the national examination bodies like JAMB WAEC, NECO etc should discover the “forces” driving secondary school students to “special centre” where examination malpractice is planned and executed with the assistance of the staff of these examination bodies. This goes to show the level of decay.

These syndicates connive and get their selected candidates posted to one examination centre where they bribe the supervisors and security operatives and cheat massively with experts in all the subjects. In the internal examination conducted for secondary school students, the school authorities buy over the supervisor and organize their teachers who solve the questions with multiple options and distributes to the students. As you read this, there are new wake up calls for students to come and register for the 2006, JAMB, NECO WAEC, with these syndicates with “guaranteed success”- irrespective of whether you study or not. And believe you me, the students are listening. It is these same students that constitute the bulk of cult members in our higher institutions on gaining admission.

It an undeniable fact that these days in most departments in Nigerian universities, students are no longer expelled for coming into the examination hall with “bullets” and “microchips”. This they do as stark as the intensive lightening of a cinema studio. Sometimes they are not even failed in the course. This has made students that ordinarily are above average to join the trend, believing that if you can’t beat them, you should join them.

This is how the country is producing secondary school students that “seem” to pass their O’level, “seem” to gain admission to higher institution on merit; they “seem” to graduate with good degree. All these are however deceitful. Exams were not taken by the students in most cases not to talk of passing. The worst news coming out of higher institutions in Nigeria is that Departmental Boards are forced to reduce the pass mark of the curses as low as 25% in order to accommodate the massive failure that is fast becoming the order of the day.

This is why we need a radical reorganization of the entire educational system in Nigeria. It was in his bid to see to the capital development of Federal University of Technology Owerri that Prof, Njoku had to “bribe” the education minister and the national assembly. The cost was his position. The government must thus as a matter of urgency invest heavily in the infrastructural development of all educational institution in the country. If we can invest heavily in COJA, the Abuja National Stadium, the National Political Reform Conference that came to nothing, why can’t we invest in our education – our future?

The deceitful view used to be limited to our lip service to the fight against corruption, it used to be limited to our claim to the international community that Nigerians are not poor, and that we are economically okay etc. I was not bordered all these while, but the moment the virus cut up with the very heart of the human existence – education- I know I must speak out or should forever remain silent when these young ones will metamorphose to political bandits/nuisance in the near future. Having taking a mental photograph of the worsening situation, I am thus crying out for help.

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frasco November 20, 2009 - 5:04 pm

the write-up is up to average

Wally Adesina October 1, 2005 - 12:41 pm

Good article. Please see Prof. Segun Adesina's new book (former director of Nigeria Educational and Research Council former Dean Faculty of Education University of Ilorin) GROWTH WITHOUT DEVELOPMENT:NIGERIA EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE. He said it all.

Also another book titled "CRISIS IN NIGERIA HIGHER EDUCATION BY Oluwole "Wally" Adesina.

Truly Nigerian educational system is in crisis.

Good job.

Wally Adesina

Anonymous September 27, 2005 - 3:18 am

This is just the simple truth and it makes me sick. I hope that some thing should be done about it but I doubt it. Nigeria is not developing at all. The Education now in Nigeria amounts to nothing and meanwhile after the years in University one could not defend his or her result if at all they find job which is also matter of IM.

Reply September 25, 2005 - 4:31 am

Our unreasonable insistence on paper qualification induces people to gain admission fraudulently and cheat to pass. Worse still the lack of consequence for deviant behavior is taking its toll on all institutions and society in general.Any case including exam malpractice can be "buried" in Nigeria.Perhaps this Nation owes Mr Owosho an apology.He was jailed in the seventies for admission racket.If the same standard were applied today our prisons will be filled with admissions officers lecturers and professors and perhaps even V.C.s! Our former Speaker of the House of Reps Hon Buhari was only a "victim" there so many Public Officers who tendered fake qualifications with impunity.So there's need to de-emphasise paper qualification and emphasise skills acquisition.Institutions of Learning ought also to launch their chapter of the war against corruption and there should be both civil and ciminal sanction for exam malpractce – ENFORCED.But note water will eventually find its own level. Banks have been proliferated ditto Churches professors etc even Military Generals have types in Nigeria so the wheat will eventually settle and be differentiated from the chaff. If you send your child to a "yeye" University renowned for "CRONJE" and admission racket – na your wahala be that.(Mr Cronje was the Ghanian 1st Registrar of WAEC so in the seventies those who cheat were (in popular parlance said to have "carried cronje") As for education funding those who expect Govt to continue to fund and manage so many Universities are jokers.You can never get quality because the funds can never go round.So the Universities will have to source for funds like any other entity so that VCs will not be tempted to induce legislators for funds.Fortunately there are so many private Universities nowadays which are expensive but dishing out excellence.Better still place the funds in a bowl and let everybody (including the private Universities) apply for grants etc based on projects like we do to FORD ROCKEFELLER etc.


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