Making sense of our educational system (2)
AS already highlighted, education is not an end in itself; it is a means to many ends. To determine the kind of educational system required by a given group of people, the ends which the society seek must be defined, well-articulated and very visible to the people.
Fundamentally, every person needs to be adequately equipped to understand and appreciate his or her uniqueness, discover his or her space in the society and fill that space. To fill that space, the person needs to acquire the skills required to function effectively in the designated role.
Hence, our current educational system is obsolete and dysfunctional as it has no bearing on the general and specific requirements for an individual to thrive as a Nigerian. It neither empowers one to live in harmony with his or her immediate environment nor play a selected role in the society. Therefore, recipients of this type of education cannot contribute positively to the development of their society.
Our present educational system needs to be urgently revamped. Most of the schools at the primary and secondary levels (the highly ‘desirable’ ones at that) have curricula designed to equip the students to function in societies outside Nigeria. In fact, a good number of them provide education specifically tailored to enable the students ‘enroll’ in foreign educational institutions seamlessly. Very little emphasis is placed on acquiring knowledge/training relevant to the immediate socio-political, economic and cultural environment.
The government as the agency with oversight and the responsibility to ensure the sustenance and continued development of the Nigerian nation needs to begin a thorough review of our educational processes especially at the primary and secondary level. The prevailing exploitation by ‘education merchants’ that take advantage of the ignorance of parents should be frontally combated. A vigorous reorientation of the populace on the true essence of education and a focused application of political will in ensuring the right kind and quality of education is provided at all levels in the Nigerian educational system is needed.
The right orientation must be given to parents, who should be the primary decision makers where the education of their children is concerned. Parents should take deeper interest in the education of their children and assume full ownership of this responsibility instead of abdicating it to teachers and proprietors of private schools. Quality education costs money but ‘expensive’ is not always equal to ‘qualitative.’ Parents should take a deeper look into what a child needs to learn and what a school is actually offering. School proprietors and administrators should also endeavor to improve on the content of their education delivery so that it becomes more relevant and helpful to solving the problems of the Nigerian society.
One-time Prime Minister of Britain, Benjamin Disraeli, once said: ‘‘Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends.’’ The ideals of nationhood hang in the balance and our potential ability to compete globally is seriously threatened. We have to stop rearing our population solely as workforce for the developed countries of the world or risk the dimming of our prospects of self-realisation. Let us come together as a people, remind ourselves of who we are, and determine where we want to get to, then decide what we need to get there. This will be an effective guide to achieving functional and effective education, for today and tomorrow.
• Emmanuel is an engineer working with Chevron Nigeria Limited. firstname.lastname@example.org/0803426496df4.