Degeneration of Educational System in Nigeria,causes,consequences and Effective Solutions:
Education has been described as a veritable tool for national development. Its importance in human and social development cannot be over emphasized. Many scholars have described investment in education as investment in human capital development. As a result, many countries and individuals have invested a lot and are still investing heavily in education .John Dewey defined education as “the reconstruction or reorganization of experience which adds to the meaning of experience and increases the ability to direct the course subsequent experience.”
“Education is a stimulant that provides awareness and a liberating tool for exploiting potentials with which to tackle hunger, disease, ignorance, unemployment and underdevelopment.”
Oladele Taiwo sees education as “the total efforts of a community to raise its social, economic and political standards of life.”
In his own words, Festus Okafor puts it as “a process of acculturation through which the individual is helped to attain the development of his potentials and their maximum activation when necessary according to right reason and to achieve, thereby, his perfect self-fulfillment. These and many other scholastic meanings present education primarily as the transmission of skills, beliefs, and value, and of course, knowledge. Education can be formal, informal or moral which can either be practical or theoretical. Whichever form it takes, education gives “knowledge is power”.
John Dewey defines education as “ a process of overcoming natural inclination and substituting in its place, habit acquired under external pressure”. Alfred Whitehead, an American philosopher, also defines education as “the art of acquisition and the utilization of knowledge”.
i. Importance of Education:
The importance of education in our contemporary world is highly indisputable. Civilization, development and acquisition of skills all go hand –in- hand with education.
Where there is no education, ignorance is crowned, leaving humanity in the detention of intellectual, moral and spiritual imprisonment. In other words, the uneducated is a living corpse. Hence, the saying, “he who considers education too expensive should please try ignorance.” Education enhances the growth of an individual for his good and that of the society at large. “True education”, Vatican 11 council states “is directed towards the formation of human person in view of his end and the good of that society to which he belongs”.
In the years past, before the advent of the missionaries in Nigeria, each tribe has its own way of educating its wards. The traditional education teaches respect to all, honesty, hardworking and commitment to the up building of the society.
The educational system in the good old days was marked with the formation of youths and adults with integral values. Indiscipline was not rampart among the youths then. The different professionals produced by the missionaries had the fear of God installed in them couple with the love of their country. Hence, the quest to develop their land. But today, the reverse is the case.
ii. Degeneration of Nigerian Educational System:
The Nigerian educational system has been witnessing degeneration ever since government took control of the sector. The youths have been wallowing in ignorance due to neglect and poor implementation of educational policies. This situation plus the deplorable state of learning facilities and conditions are of unquantifiable effect on the degeneration of our educational system.
The degeneration of our educational system is as a result government takeover of schools from missions and private owners in the early 70s. After the takeover, the systems witnessed a total neglect by subsequent governments. Likewise, the high level of poverty in the country is no exemption in the degenerative process of the system. Parents as a result of poverty have no time to teach and build a strong foundation for their children, all in the name of what the children will eat. The poor parents give kudos to government for their free education not knowing that government is distributing free ignorance in the name of education.
The major way of identifying the children of the rich from those of the poor is through education. While the children of the rich are given the best education at home and abroad, their counterpart from poor homes extract the unworthy remain of our degenerating education. Thus, they have no access to knowledge or gainful employment, which are the products of education.
ii.Causes of degeneration of Nigerian Educational System:
1. Ineffective National Education Policy:
According to Emenyonu, “ Poverty of the mind and barrenness of intellect are the most tragic diseases that a country can slip into at any time in its history” We should not sit down, fold our arms and watch education which is the most important tool for socio-economic development go into extinction. Posterity will never forgive us if this happens. Something must be done. The present national education policy should be reviewed to accommodate the current challenges confronting the country. Policy makers in the educational sector should make achievable policies. Also, there should be a follow up to these policies and another to implement them, and not only to implement them, but to sustain the implemented policies.
This can be achieved by frequent monitoring of policies and how they are being implemented. Also, wide consultations should be made while formulating educational policies. Educational experts, teachers, parents and even students should be consulted while formulating educational policies. This will go a long way in eliminating frequent changing of policies which has characterized the Nigerian educational sector.
2. Politicizing Educational Systems:
Politicizing is another factor. Education should be disassociated from politics. The politicization of education in this country has done more harm than good. Playing politics with educational issues is like playing politics with our future. Competent hands should be appointed to handle key positions in the educational sector. These appointments should be made based on merit rather than favoritism.
3. Corruption in the Educational Sector:
The entrenchment of education as a non-negotiable right of every citizen in the constitution would help check corruption in that sector. Corruption is largely responsible for the failure of the National Policy on Education (NPE) and other policies in Nigeria. Mismanagement of educational resources at any level should be a punishable offence and should be enshrined into the Nigerian constitution. It is believe that in the presence of corruption, no policy (including that of education) can succeed.
iii. Consequences of Degeneration of Educational System in Nigeria:
1. Constant close down of School as a result of strike:Workers protesting for good working working conditions;
Constant close down of schools as a result of strike to protest for proper management of schools, improve working condition for teachers, and of course, fair remuneration, are neither new nor special in our primary, post primary and tertiary institutions. These contribute to the increase in dropout rate among youths. The consequence of this is not far-fetched, as some of our youths have taken to different kinds of immoral acts such as robbery, prostitution, and drug pushing among others.
All this seems little compared to the horrible treatment imposed on the youths with their subjection to half education. “Illiteracy” they say “is better than half education because half education is dangerous to human race”. The illiterate knows quite well that he knows nothing and, as such, may be willing and always ready to learn, but a half educated fellow will not agree that he knows nothing and so he is unwilling to learn and fails to change for the better. This made me remember the old wise saying that “he, who does not know and does not know that he does not know, is a fool”. Half educated people are educated individuals but they have no acquired any knowledge.
If things should continue in this way, it means the future of this country is at stake. This is because without education it will be impossible for us to get to our destination as a nation.
2. Unparalleled Exodus of some of the best brain from our country:
Also, this educational degeneration has led to an unparalleled exodus of some of the best brains (brain drain) from our country and the flight of many frustrated students to other countries in search for good university education and greener pasture, majority of who may never return. This brain drain is very dangerous to our developing nation and only time could tell the magnitude of its effect.
iv. Effective Solutions to Degeneration of Educational System in Nigeria:
1. Government has to redouble its effort and give more attention to education:
“Every problem” Norman Vincent Peale said “contains the seed of its own solution “. Knowledge we all know is power, which liberates one from the shackles of ignorance. Hence, according to Aristotle “all men by nature desire to know “. Therefore, government has no to redouble its effort and give more attention to education, and revive the system. By giving education it’s required allocation and enforcing the proper use of all allocation. The provision of learning facilities, infrastructure, technological and laboratory equipment’s, as well as prompt payment of teachers’ remuneration and improve working condition for those in educational sector. The development of education is a collective responsibility of government, voluntary organizations and individuals. Hence; every Nigerian is supposed to contribute his/her quota through giving good orientation to our youths on the importance of education; as it is the basis of human development. Parents also are not left out. They should create a home filled with love and devotion to God as well as their fellow men. This will promote an integrated personal and social education of their wards. Teachers, especially lecturers should be in agreement with government because they are both involved in the formation of youths through education. As scripture says, “can two walk together unless they agree?”.
2. Policy made for the provision of 6-3-3-4 system of education should be implemented:
The policy also made provision for 6-3-3-4 system of education. That is, six years in primary school, three years each in junior and senior secondary schools and four years in the university (or five years depending on the course duration).This policy should be made effective. This will help the educational system in Nigeria.
3. Feature of new educational policy:
One other salient feature of the new educational policy is the provision technical education. This policy divides technical education into five levels;
- Pre-vocational schools
- Vocational schools
- Technical colleges
- Technical colleges of Education.
This policy stated categorically that the junior secondary school level will serve as an aptitude or talent detection level. At the end of this level, those who are technically oriented would proceed to technical colleges, while those with aptitude for literary education would proceed to senior secondary level to develop literary skills to the point of excellence.
. The document went on to say that technical colleges will groom students for Polytechnics and technical colleges of education while senior secondary schools for the universities.
The policy also introduced continuous assessment at all levels of education. According to the policy document, “Progress in the educational sector will be based on the continuous assessment of overall student’s performance” Continuous assessment is a mechanism whereby the final grading of a student in the cognitive, effective and psycho motor domains of behavior takes account in a systematic way, of all his performances during a given period of schooling. Such assessment involves the use of a great variety of modes of evaluation for the purpose of guiding and improving the learning and performance of students.
The National Policy on Education, in all its ramifications, has all the necessary ingredients for launching Nigeria into the orbit of greatness, politically, socially, morally, economically, scientifically and technologically. There are clear indications that educational programme implementation has been generally defective and largely ineffective and has shown disappointing outcomes.
4. Qualified and Competent teachers should be employed:
Qualified and competent teachers should be employed and their welfare should be given due attention. There should be an upward review of teacher’s salaries because their welfare will go a long way to determine the quality of services they will render to this country. After all, a hungry man is an angry man. The slogan “No teacher, no nation “ should be reflected upon. Also, on-the-job training should be provided for teachers so as to equip them with modern techniques of teaching and learning. The issue of continuous assessment should be given proper attention. Teachers should be trained on how to conduct a holistic assessment test for students.
In addition, The Buhari’s led government should develop the necessary political will to foster educational development. The educational sector should be properly financed. Adequate provision should be made in the annual budget for the educational sector. Our leaders should understand that investment in education is investment in human capital development.
The present situation of our country does not give a room for mediocre as leaders and as such we cannot afford to be ruled by people with half education. Proper education is the only medium through which intellectual liberation can be achieved among the youths. This is a highly inevitable focus as a nation, because Nigeria cannot afford to jeopardize her future leaders on the altar of poor educational systems. A nation that neglects the education of her youth creates ways for her fall. “Knowledge”. Bacon says, “ is power”, and power leads a nation.
Finally, having seen the importance of education and the pitiable state of education in this country, I think a state of emergency should be declared in the Nigeria educational sector. There should be total overhauling of this sector. Education should be given the appropriate position it deserves. We have to restore education to its past glory. This cannot be done by the government alone. We must all be involved. Something must be urgently done by all of us to salvage the Nigerian educational system because the quality of a nation’s citizenry depends on the quality of her educational system.
Emenyonu, E. N Ideas and Challenges in Nigeria Education, Enugu: New Generation Books. 1994.
Federal Republic of Nigeria. National Policy on Education (Revised), Yaba: NERC Press. 1981.
© 2017 ODEWOYE FRANCIS SUNDAY