By Aniekpeno John Inyang
Education has been described in many quarters as not just a tool for an individual’s self-actualization but a powerful instrument of social change. Many developed countries in the world today have attributed their success stories to their faith in education. This goes a long way in proving how vital education is to any society. Nigeria as a country is regarded as one that is still developing and a lot of people believe that our transition to a state of be described as one of the most developed countries in the world is largely dependent on how much emphasis we lay on education. Education in today’s world has gone through a lot of changes to enable it cater for emerging demands and bring about life changing transformations. Nigerian educational system is still growing but has encountered a lot of challenges. The essence of this paper is to take a look at the educational problems confronting Nigeria and how we can address some of those problems, but first we will take a look at the concept of education
Dornell (2005) defined education as the process by which people develop their functional literacy and numeracy, knowledge and skills for productive activity. According to Peters (1989) education is a continuous process, which involves the transmission of societal accepted values, skills, attitude and virtue for proper development of an individual for positive contribution to his society.
Wikipedia defines Education as the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but learners may also educate themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. The methodology of teaching is called pedagogy.
Prior to the arrival of western education in Nigeria, education has been informal majorly from the family and immediate society, where children are taught about culture, social activities and work. These educational activities made up for majority of what the upcoming ones learn.
The entrance of the Europeans into Nigeria brought along European western Education in the 1840s. In the western part of the country western education was encouraged by the Missionaries.
The Northern part of Nigeria, majorly populated by Muslims, western education was prohibited giving way to Islamic school that focused primarily on Islamic education.
Prior to Nigeria’s Independence, only two established Post Secondary Institution were available, Yaba Higher College (Now Yaba College of Technology founded in 1934) and the University of Ibadan, founded in 1948.
Post Independence brought about the major development of education in Nigeria, with increase in the number of primary, secondary schools, teachers college and Polytechnics and Universities.
The cost of Tertiary education is constantly on the increase and the educational system is in need of improvement and innovation to move it forward from the current state.
Education in Nigeria is usually said to have undergone four major periods which are:
African Traditional Education: This is the period when education was purely informal and in the hands of Africans. Education in this era revolved around transmitting cultural values from one generation to another
Missionary Education: this is when education was in the hands of Missionaries. Education here was designed to help propagate the goals of spreading the word of God by the Missionaries
Colonial Education: Education under this period was in the hands of the European Colonial Masters. The aim of education was to train Nigerians to basically serve as Messengers and Petty workers.
Post-colonial Education: this period witnessed the taking over of education by Nigerians. Education was now designed to take care of the developmental needs of the Country.
Current Challenges Confronting the Development of Education in Nigeria and the Way Forward
There are many issues currently bedeviling the development of Education in Nigeria, some of them are identified below along with their way forward:
Lack of Adequate funding: there hasn’t been enough funding allocated to education in Nigeria and this has impeded the proper growth of education. Nigeria has never allocated the required sum for education as stipulated by the United Nations which is is 26% of annual budget.
The Government should as a matter of urgency allocate at least 26% of its total budget as stipulated by the United Nations to Education.
Poor teacher’s welfare: This is another major problem affecting the level of education in Nigeria. Poor salary and irregular payments of salaries, are the problems that teachers face in Nigeria.
Teachers’ salary must be increased to motivate them to do their work better
Poor Educational Infrastructure: there is also the problem of the lack of adequate infrastructure needed to drive home the goals of education. Such things as stable electricity or a good health care system affects the growth and development of education.
The government should join hands with the public to provide adequate infrastructure needed by education.
Absence of properly trained Teachers: some persons who are engaged to teach are not properly trained or have not gone through good teacher training institutions. This affects their productivity as teachers and impedes educational development in the country.
There must be a strong legislation against the act of employing persons who have not gone through proper teacher education. Anybody found doing that should be prosecuted by the courts of law
Absence of Learner friendly environments: the right kind of environment that encourages easy learning is usually not made available to learners. Things like good teaching aids, sports centers, and good laboratories. This affects how much the learners are able to assimilate and the teacher’s productivity.
All persons must put all hands on deck to provide the right kind of environment needed by every learner to effectively learn.
Poorly Designed Curriculum: there is also the problem of poorly designed curriculum. These are curriculums that are not able to meet up with the developmental needs of the country or do not involve the right kind of stakeholders in the educational sector.
The government should involve all stake holders in the educational sector such as teachers and educational administrators in the process of designing and implementing school curriculum.
Education in Nigeria is still developing and emerging. A lot has been achieved and even more can be achieved if only we can address some of the issues affecting the sector. Some of these issues have been discussed above and possible solutions have been proffered. As Nigerians we must do everything within our capability to put in place, the necessary things needed by education to grow, this is because education is the most trusted tool we can use to achieve our goals of national development.
Aniekpeno John Inyang is a Public Affairs Analyst.