THE FALLEN STANDARD OF EDUCATION SYSTEM IN NIGERIA ANY HOPE
THE FALLEN STANDARD OF EDUCATION SYSTEM IN NIGERIA ANY HOPE?
AJOKU MAGNUS (+2347030677310
The standard of educational system can simply be seen as a systematic and generally accepted level of teaching and learning in the educational institution geared towards improving knowledge and developing skills. According to Plato, such a system “… must be one that can be shown to produce the highest possible perfection and excellence of the soul (laws 788 of-10).
Recapitulating the status of education in Nigeria in the 1960’s (when the schools were mostly runnned by their original owners, the church) and comparing it with what obtains today, one would agree that the standard has truly fallen. Things have really fallen apart as Chinua Achebe (1983) would say. Professor D. Akunjili at one time captured this ugly situation in these words. “Our present educational system is a disaster that has stifled creativity and hampered the emergence of excellence” (vanguard newspaper Monday, Feb 6, 2006, Vol. 21:No 6003). The worst of it is that, the menace transcend right from our primary to tertiary institutions, perhaps because the government has not yet given adequate attention to education as it ought. In fact a student in one of the higher institutions in the eastern Nigeria recently decried (his state) government’s irresponsibility towards his school. In his word “I don’t see the reason why a state…. Parades education as her highest industry would be running under the present dilapidated structures…. Sky rocketing of our school fees from twelve thousand naira to fifty three thousand naira respectively, not minding that some students are orphans, poor and wretched beyond description…. Accommodation problem coupled with exorbitant school fees has led our young ones into prostitution and some nefarious activities… there are not enough chairs, so we stand up during lecturers… in fact, our problems are too numeroius to mention…” (Kanu Bekee Eberechukwu in leader newspaper Sunday 11-18 2010 P. 4). Is quite unfortunate that the tertiary education that is recovering from the stong blows” of the long strike that almost crippled it. One couldn’t imagine that since June till now the students within the Universities owned by the Eastren State Governments are still on strikes till now. What callous neglect by the Government. And some of them has their wards to study abroad. I think it is high time these Politicians and their ASSU/NUT counterpart are compared to have their wards study in the Country Universities. If not we will continue to experience the unnecessary incessant and negligence. As he rightly said, their ordeals due to government negligence are too many to mention in this 21/2 paged write-up.
We also regret the roles of some parents towards the fallen standard of education especially as they compel their wards to study certain courses without caring whether the talent and interest to cope are there or not. Added to this, many guardians do not allow their wards to study at home. Instead they negotiate with teachers/lecturers on how to help their wards pass examinations. Some teachers /lecturers also exhibit laize fare attitude towards their profession. They go to school whenever they like but dedicate a greater aspect of their time to their private businesses.
The absence of reading culture among students, unabated spread of cultism, poorly produced handout, and more seriously the mode of admission into our higher institution contribute to this. Now some universities have started their post UME examinations. One experiences a situation where before or during an admission/examination, lazy students buy their way out to be admitted or come out with higher grades, while honest, brilliant and dedicated students are denied admission, promotion or merited grades simply because they fail or refuse to “comply”. It is no longer news as earlier noted that, nowadays our young women; daughters or sisters indulge in prostitution in our higher institution as they are compelled to “pay-up” with their bodies if they can’t meet up with the financial demands. It is really sad and disheartening that students can dictate their scores in an examination ever before it is sat for. They mark one gets depends largely on the amount of “offer” or the money he/she “pays”.
The fruits of these practices are not far fetched. Radio Nigeria in her national broadcast on 9th of July 2010 reported the Federal government’s lamentation on the recent successive massive failures recorded in the West African Examination Council (WAEC), The National Examination Council (NECO) and the University Matriculation Examination (JAMB). Cases also abound where many Nigerian graduates/Students couldn’t defend their qualification. In the past recently concluded Oyo State Police command recruitment, Olabisi Okuwobi, one of the five men screening panel sadly narrates her experiences thus, “…with the presentation of their school certificates, with many having credit in English language…. We asked them to read simple English in the dailies, but they could not. Some of them even failed to write or spell their names correctly. It is alarming, sad and a dangerous trend…” (Leader Newspaper op cit p.3) Another is the Imo State Job qualifying examination conducted for graduates. Out of the 19,000 that participated only 13 scored 80 percent and above. Little wonder our graduates are rejected overseas or at best forced to run remedial programmes. What a pity to a great nation like Nigeria!
With these ugly trends in our educational system, I perceive an impending danger that by 2030, Nigeria will be filled with a massive number of “Learned illiterates” i.e. illiterates with educational certificates. This problem requires radical immediate solution. In this light I opt for the following remedial suggestions.
First step to arrest this situation is re-orientation or true rebranding. How? “Peter must not be robbed to pay Paul” in other words, students should study hard to get their high grades and not through bribery vis a vis sorting or other kinds of examination malpractices and corruption.
As suggested by one of our national newspapers, wages could be paid based on the output of teachers which is measured by the teachers quality, students achievement, the quality of the available learning facilities, principal effectiveness, etc (cf Vanguard newspaper Monday, Feb 6, 2006, vol. 21, No 6003)
Parents can as well help by encouraging their children to cultivate reading habit at home, support them financially, morally and stop collaborating in perpetrating exam malpractices.
On the whole, the government has the responsibility of safeguarding the right of its children to sound education. And while we congratulation the Federal government for jointly hosting E.9 Countries Conference last June 21st -24th with UNESCO to seek solution to their illiteracy plight and for recently dishing out a huge amount for academic development of our higher educational institutions, I opt that adequate supervision of their proper implementation should be checked and the media has crucial role here.
I also congratulate the State Government that are making serious and practical move towards solving the educational problems by returning to their original owners, the Church/Missionaries. I encourage them to chastely finalize every issue patterning to it. For what worth’s doing worth’s doing well.
The government should be vigilant about the ability of teachers/lecturers and the standard of teaching. Watch over the health of students and in general promote the work of the schools in its entirety.
Conclusively I wish to state that the academic community cannot be forgiven if it forfeits the education .of our children on which our hopes for the future rests. Hence, I urge the education stakeholders under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in coalition with The Nigerian Union of Teachers (UNT) to see their occupation to be more of a vocation for the service of God in humanity. To actualize this vocation, I suggest that Teachers/lectures should prepare for their work with special care, possess the appropriate qualifications and adequate learning both religious and secular. They should be skilled in the art of education in accordance with the discoveries of modern times. Cultivate charity towards another and towards their students. And inspired by the apostolic spirit, they should bear testimony to the teachings of Christ; the teacher, by their exemplary lives. I strongly believe that faithful adherence to these suggested solutions will undoubtedly produce great positive changes in the present dilapidated Nigeria educational sector. Thus fostering hope for the future of Nigeria.
By Ajoku Magnus
A Student of Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary.