Improving the educational system in Nigeria
The educational system in Nigeria can best be described in tandem with infrastructural decay and distasteful conditions of service.
According to UNICEF one in every five of the world’s out of school children is in Nigeria. Although primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in school. Add this to the millions that are half educated due to a decayed educational system. Education as is widely-known, is the root of every development but unfortunately it has taken the back seat in Nigeria which is sad. This is largely due to poor educational infrastructural facilities as a result of neglect and poor funding, inadequate classrooms, ill equipped or non-existent learning facilities, unqualified teachers, terrible learning environments and conditions, as well as some social vices plaguing the educational institutions- talk of strikes, cultism et al Since independence, governments after governments have experimented with policies to improve this very vital sector, some of which have been laudable. However poor implementation, greed, corruption, misappropriation and lack of will have time and time proven to be our stumbling block.
A close assessment of activities has also revealed that other irregularities in schools such as malpractices, strikes and the lack of will to learn on the part of the students have also contributed to the downfall of the educational system in Nigeria. Pray, why will it take one 6 years to study a 4-year course because of a faulty system! This brings me to the reasons why many youths want to study abroad as the system has crumbled and most of our graduates are unemployable; reason being that those who are teaching them are not even ready.
Today, the deteriorating state of the Nigerian educational system has now made it almost a taboo for the typical Nigerian not to aspire to be educated abroad. Truth is, to have the chance to compete in the ever evolving global (labour) world, the students need requisite skills-which is not likely to be handed down to them by the current educational system in Nigeria, and thus, they go in search of it abroad where it is available.
Nigerians studying in tertiary institutions in the USA rose by 5.8% to 13423 in 2018/19 academic year from 12693 in 2017/18 academic year according to the open-door report by the institute of international education (IIE). This is just in tertiary universities in USA. The impact of this is that the country loses its youth and workforce to other countries because many of the students refuse to return. In the USA, 4% of Nigerians hold a PHD compared to 1% of the general US population according to the United States census bureau. 17% of Nigerians hold a Master’s degree while 37% hold a Bachelor’s degree
Over time, there has been a decay in our educational system. There is a system which is not working for the young people. Something is wrong with our education system and it’s time we changed that.
Nigerian students are of high quality and standard that they are now being offered scholarships et al to come study in say UK.
What can be done?
For meaningful development to take place in the educational sector, government needs to re-address the issue of funding and there has to be a total re-orientation from the home to the government. There is an urgent need for private-public partnership to invest heavily in education in terms of infrastructures, technology, teachers, funding of researches so as to be able to compete globally.
There is no better time to encourage technical hands-on education than now. Technical adaptation centers must be encouraged and well-funded. Enough of the monolithic approach to knowledge.
Invest heavily in technology for both learning and teaching to be able to compete globally. The research sub-sector that is grossly neglected in Nigeria and played upon is the basis for the socio economic, political, scientific and technological advancement of our most admired developed nations of the world today.
Funding is the biggest problem confronting Nigeria’s education system. The percentage of the budget allocated to education annually is atrociously low. For example in 2018, only a little above 7% was allocated to education. This is far below UNESCO’s recommended 26%. Relatively, this is no way to be able to compete in the global space. Also, the private sector needs to be encouraged to partner with the public sector to provide appropriate funding to lift the educational sector.
In conclusion there is no disputing the fact that the Nigerian educational system requires a total restructuring which is needed to improve the performance of both primary and tertiary institutions. Nigeria entered the 21st century unprepared to compete in the ever-evolving global economy/world- where growth will be based on knowledge.
It is also a fact that the inadequacies always observed among many undergraduates and graduates alike is as a result of the inadequacies associated with the primary and the secondary education system in Nigeria Since no nation can develop above its educational system as education is akin to development, it has become imperative now more than ever to find some solutions to the problems of dwindling resource allocation to the educational sector in Nigeria
Conscious effort needs to be put towards qualitative and durable educational system so Nigeria can stand up to be counted.
Mr. Ilouno, CEO, Next Generation Global Association, wrote from Lagos.
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