It is no news that something is wrong with the educational sector in Nigeria. According to Craft (1984) there are two different Latin words to the English word “education’. They are “educare” which means “to train” or “to mold” and “educere” meaning to “lead out”. Education is designed to bring out the best in any man. As a matter of fact, education should not be seen as important because of the certificates or degrees students desire to earn but because of the transformation it brings about. Education is the pure reason a university graduate will not market his goods like a Bodija market woman.
Education has so much good to offer a nation but it is obvious something has definitely gone wrong with the Nigerian educational system. All we see today are dilapidated structures which we call schools; unstable academic calendars, unequipped laboratories, and student-unfriendly environment. The standard of education has surely dropped over the years and all we have are our elite boasting of sending their children to quality schools abroad. Even many employers are no longer interested in employing those who did not study abroad because according to them, Nigerian institutions teach nothing but theories. Many students who have their tertiary education in Nigeria also look forward to having the opportunity to further their studies abroad. But who do we blame, do we blame the students who struggle to despite the unfavorable situation of the country to thrive academically or the lecturers who although receive half of their salary still deem it appropriate and necessary to give their best in educating the young minds. Definitely, the fault comes from our leaders – the corrupt masters of our economy.
Education was became a definite institution mainly to ensure that youths develop adequate skills and knowledge necessary for them to contribute to the advancement of the country. As a matter of fact, before the British started formal education in colleges in 1948, Nigerians engaged in informal ways of educating the younger generations because they understood the essence of imbibing in the young ones their cultures and value system.
It could only be expected that after independence, our leaders who understood the essence of education even before the British came will do all it takes to maintain and improve the standard of education. It is unfathomable that a country widely thought by outsiders as the hope of Africa because of her abundant resources will fail at maintaining at least a standard level of education if nothing else.
Many things are responsible for the lamentable state we are presently in. Top on the list is that our leaders had and still do not have any specific plan for the education sector! When Chief Akinjide, the Minister of Education in the first republic was asked when Nigeria went wrong, he said:
“People who are in certain position should not be in those positions. At independence, Zik and Awo were ready to rule but they were not given the opportunity. Those who ruled were not ready”.
It is obvious they were all blinded with their greed for power that they could not make plans for the future of their country. For instance, in 1976, Nigeria passed a law, making education compulsory for all children between ages of 6 to 12. It is not until the following year that the law took effect and it soon failed the following year. As a way of informing Nigerians of the death of the law, a revised national policy on education was stated in 1998 that: “the government welcomes contributions of voluntary agencies, communities and private establishment in the establishment and management of primary schools”.
The whole law was just a political camouflage because our leaders lacked substance from the inception. They do not see the need to keep on educating the common man. It is then sadly laughable when the current President blatantly said: “there is nothing wrong with the educational sector” when it is obvious even to a layperson that the sector is suffering, crying and dying.
These days, we see children who should be in school roaming the streets; many of them have taken to hawking on the streets and some of them have even become veterans in the act of begging. Unemployable and unskillful graduates are as common as pure water; students are left to occupy buildings that are not conducive for learning. Some of these schools have become refuge dumps and yet we subject children who are called the leaders of tomorrow to such unfavourable learning environment. Many of our children hardly have time to read as they are on the street hawking immediately after school. Definitely our leaders are selfish and they have no plan for the common man because if they did, they will obviously know that their greed and kleptomaniac fingers have affected all the sectors in this country and even the most important sector is not left behind.
Also, the teachers and lecturers are not blame-free. They have all being denied their rights in one way or the other. If the sector is in proper shape, lecturers should not be denied what they deserve, why should a person who works at ensuring that the next generation is hardworking, diligent and cultured enough to take over the affairs of the country be denied what they deserve? In many of the public schools, we find teachers who are not motivated to teach anymore and many of them have turned the school environment to business centers because there is need for them to provide for themselves and their children. We surely cannot blame the teachers who do that.
In conclusion, a lot needs to be done to revamp the education sector. We need funds from the elite, we need the government and even private companies to see the need to invest in the educational sector, enough of spending money on frivolities in this country. Education is our tool to changing the world, the elite should begin to see the need to invest in the education sectors and not believe that they can take their children to schools abroad. Because the more we refuse to invest in the future of our county, the more uncertain the future is.