Global goals – Part 3
Nigeria: The Faults In Our Educational system
Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance and we cannot build a better world without improving the individuals. It is a basic truth of life that we cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future; education is no doubt the greatest form of empowerment! Albert Einstein said, ‘’Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.’’
The core purpose of education is not in the learning of facts and figures but rather in taking us through a journey of self-discovery. It is to help us navigate uncharted territories and also challenge the norms. We need to redesign our educational system to produce global citizens, as our students are no longer in tandem with global standards.
The United Nations through UNESCO and UNICEF stands strongly by the conviction that education is a fundamental human right that is inextricably linked to the realization of other rights. Quality education is an essential condition for accelerating progress towards the achievement of other sustainable development goals. In other words, sustainable development begins with education.
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”- Malala Yousafzai
Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” We need to improve both the quality and accessibility of education at the pre-primary and primary levels. We also need to redesign our methodologies and curriculum at higher levels in order to prepare the youths for the future. Our curriculum has become archaic and obsolete in a changing world. Most international curricula are designed to make students become independent learners but ours even kill initiatives.
We must re-design our curriculum in such a way to enhance the ability of students to think innovatively and apply theoretical contents towards solving real life issues. There is a lot of redundancy in our curriculum; the WAEC curriculum needs urgent redesigning so that our students will not become endangered species in a dynamic and changing world.
At this juncture, I want to emphasize a major ‘disease’ in the Nigerian system of education. Each year, the Nigerian educational sector keeps churning out ‘graduates with certificates’ but with no intrinsic value and are internally disconnected from their gifts and potentials. The kind of education we practice here in Nigeria stifles initiatives, blankets our gifts and ultimately teaches a man to his own neglect! We need to redesign our educational sector towards the nurturing of individual gifts, the kind of education that prepare learners to stand out rather than fit in.
Vocational education and training (VET) has become an integral part of the educational system in countries like Australia, Finland, China etc. The European Union (EU) has vocational education and training as one of its core objectives. Until we create an environment and a platform to nurture natural gifts and talents, the issue of unemployment among youths will go unabated. VET programs will provide a unique kind of education that directly relates to getting a job and will definitely reduce the staggering unemployment rate in the nation.
In order for the Nigerian government to evolve a form of complete education, the issue of vocational education must be institutionalized by law. As part of efforts to strengthen and promote technical and vocational education; gladiators and supporters of the vocational education scheme have forwarded a draft bill to the National Assembly for establishment of a National Council for Vocational Education (NCVE), we pray that the lawmakers will expedite action in this novel direction by making our educational system more robust and inclusive.
‘’To know the right places for people, we must know their area of gifting.’’ -Myles Munroe
The place of technology cannot be overestimated in ensuring quality education. I was in UAE in March this year to attend a conference in Abu Dhabi were students were interviewed all over the world on what they would want the 21st century classroom to look like. Majority of the students said they would want all their books and materials On-line, they all advocated for a paperless classroom. The youths of this generation are digital natives while the teachers are digital migrants. Ignacio Estrada once said, “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
The new phase of education must be technology-driven. Mobile learning and E-learning are the 21st century tools to making education more accessible.
Alexander the Great once said, ‘‘I am indebted to my parents for living, but to my teacher for living well.’’ One other fault in our educational system is the critical issue of the quality of teachers. There can never be quality education without quality teaching. The issue of teacher training is expedient for quality teaching. In 2014, I attended an international conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka and the theme for the conference was: “INSPIRING TEACHING ,INSPIRING LEARNING:HOW WE PREPARE LEARNERS FOR A LIFE TIME OF LEARNING”. Teachers are nation builders, teachers are the centre of education, and their contributions can never be overestimated.
It is appalling and abusive to know that most teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. Ken Blanchard said, ‘‘People who feel good about themselves, produce good results.’’ I am encouraging the government at every level to invest in teachers’ welfare and also create a conducive environment for learning. The quality of teachers is paramount to any nation that will go far in this 21st century; Bob Talbert said, ‘‘Good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more!’’ I would like to advise government at various levels to set aside a week around October 5 of every year (October 5 is UN day for teachers) to train, equip and motivate teachers toward better productivity.
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.’’ –Henry Adams
I also believe strongly that the Industrial Training (I.T) Programme in our tertiary institutions should be redesigned to empower students to create jobs or at least increase their employability. The IT programme in tertiary institution should be given a face-lift by properly integrating entrepreneurship training into it. Institutions must properly monitor students’ placement for I.T so as to ensure that the real reasons for industrial training are not systemically violated.
This is the only major platform to train students, as our curriculum is much of teaching and not training. We need vibrant I.T centres in our institutions to nurture students into becoming entrepreneurs and equip them to go into the world market not as spectators but active participators in incubating ideas and designing products that will meet needs and solve problems.
Another pathetic fault in our education is in the area of research. Our educational system is not well designed to practically solve problems; I want to categorically say that we are not truly educated until we can solve problems. You are not literate just because you can read and write; you are literate because you can solve problems. What we have today are educators that are in a rush to publish papers and journals even when it is obvious that those papers lack content that will proffer solution to societal problems. I would like to suggest that Masters and PhD students should be made to compulsory state the problems they intend to solve with their projects, papers should be published with societal problems in mind.
Finally, I want to say emphatically that our evaluation and assessment system is faulty. I remember one of my very brilliant students in one of the south western Universities failing a particular course just because she was unable to copy ‘word for word’ from her lecturer’s obsolete lecture notes! It is only in Nigeria that a lecturer prides and delights himself in students’ failure. Most lecturers set questions with massive failure in mind; the prime purpose of examination is to evaluate progress and not failure.
Our method of archaic educational assessment punishes students destructively for making mistakes when actually mistakes are integral part of learning. International Examinations have designed assessment methods that reward students even for floundering intelligently! The recent outcry generated when the Minister for Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu announced the cancellation of POST-UTME exam is an indictment on the JAMB exercise and ultimately on our evaluation system.
Next week, I will be writing on the health sector and accessibility to clean water. Until then, act locally but think globally.
*To learn more on how you can get involved in these global goals, go to www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment.