By Collet Foundation
Education can be defined as a form of learning in a formal or an informal setting under the guidance of a teacher, instructor or academic. It serves as the backbone of any nation in terms of social, economic and infrastructural growth. A country with a high level of quality education has reduced crime rates, high employment rates, quality health infrastructures to mention a few. Finland, the country with the highest ranking of education has proven itself in every aspect of economic growth.
According to the BBC, Nigeria has one of the poorest levels of education in the world, with over 10 million children out of school. The number of children who are privileged to go to school receive poor quality education. This translates to Nigeria’s high unemployment rates, high level of crime and lack of basic infrastructures needed by its citizens. The government (both state and federal) make failed promises yearly especially during periods of an election with nothing to show for it. A very good example of Nigeria’s failed educational system is the case of Abia state where teachers were not paid salaries for years and refused to continue in service to the state resulting in empty schools. Another example is the case of a state governor, who fired thousands of teachers for failing to pass the same examination questions they had set for their pupils. Although he received massive backlash for his action, it proves that not every teacher in a classroom knows of his or her course of teaching. There are so many other examples from the looting of education funds as in the case of the University of Abuja and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, to poor environmental conditions of the classroom like in the case of Government girls secondary school (GGSS), Ahoada.
The former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo introduced the Universal Basic Education system in hopes that more children will have access to good education, although beneficial the quality of education received by the pupils is at the lowest level.
Covenant University, a private university with the highest ranking in Nigeria, has proven itself time and time again with the high level of its educational system, graduating the most employable graduates in the country, this is because they invest not only in the education of their graduates and undergraduates through quality teaching curriculum, research and infrastructures, they also prepare them for life beyond the four walls of their academic institution. What can the Nigerian government do to reform its educational system and enable its students and graduates to compete with other schools or institutions on the world stage? Here are a few ideas that will help improve our education system:
1. Reformed educational curriculum
There has been an explosion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics worldwide. Foreign countries are reviewing their educational curriculum to prepare its citizens for the future of Artificial Intelligence and Nigeria is progressively behind. In Nigeria, a high percentage of students, except in most private nursery, primary and secondary schools, have limited access to the internet or understand the meaning of artificial intelligence, data analytics and other terms that are gradually being associated with jobs of the future. The ministry of education needs to review the present educational curriculum used in all schools and improve on it to meet the changing educational system of the world. It is said ‘teach a child in the way it should grow and he will not depart from it.’ The best time to prepare its citizens for jobs of the future is from the cradle, that way we can compete with other nations of the world as it progresses.
2. Invest in research and infrastructure
Theoretical and practical studies go hand in hand. Many secondary schools and institutions do not have the basic equipment required to carry out simple experiments. A major example is engineering students who graduate without any practical work and are dumbfounded when they leave their academic institutions and faced with equipment they have never seen nor understand its operations. UNESCO states that twenty-six percent of a country’s national budget should be allocated to education. In Nigeria, barely ten percent of its budget goes to education. When students know and understand what they are thought and can back it up with the required research and practical knowledge, they will be able to stand tall wherever they are.
3. Assess and reform organizational management of state and federal institutions
The management and staff of some universities are knee-deep in corrupt practices as is the norm in the Nigerian political system. A place were the main concern should be educating its students, the management prioritizes personal gains and money they can line their pockets with. Therefore, every chain of management should be reviewed and policies should be put in place to curtail these acts backed with severe punishments.
4. Improve the environmental conditions of schools and institutions.
During my service year, I was posted to a secondary school with dilapidated walls, falling roofs and poor environmental conditions. Recently on social media, pictures were making the rounds of a congested federal institution hostel, were undergraduates slept in numbers on the floor. How are students and undergraduates expected to learn and assimilate whatever they are thought, when their mind is riddled with worries about the roof caving in on them as they sit or back pains from sleeping in uncomfortable conditions. Prisoners in foreign countries are treated to better conditions than our students in schools and institutions. The government should look into such schools and institutions and revamp them to make them comfortable for its pupils and undergraduates.
5. Teaching and lectureship incentives
In some parts of the world, teachers are the highest paid profession, this is because they understand how important the teaching profession is. Understanding this, the government should create teaching and lectureship incentives that will motivate these professionals as they perform their duties. Almost every year, Academic and non-academic staff go on strike because the government fails to meet their need. If a certain percentage of the educational demands are allocated to incentives for teachers and lecturers, the academic calendars will run more smoothly because these professionals will be satisfied and have no excuses not to do their jobs.
This list is not exhaustive, but these simple points will go a long way in revolutionizing the Nigerian educational system not immediately but gradually over time. As the educational system improves the government should also provide jobs for graduates, both will translate to improved socio-economic benefits and reduced crime rate.
Credits: Collet Foundation.