EDUCATION: THE LOST LEGACY OF NIGERIA
Education is the legacy of every well-meaning society; the impact of education on the society is beyond doubt a determining factor on how well the society fare among its peers, in a country of 180 million people having a literacy rate of 52% and still declining and with real educated rate at 24.4 %, this is no doubt a major setback. The foundation of our educational system is faulty and if not fixed as a matter of urgency, this nation will collapse in no time. This bug is a timed bomb waiting to explode. It is wisely said that when you build mansions and refuse to build your children, the children will ruin the mansions, with over 12.7 million children out of school, Nigeria constitute 48% of the world out of school children, this implies that Nigeria is educationally disadvantaged.
Nigeria as a nation have the resources to implement free and compulsory standard quality education in all fairness across all levels (primary, secondary, vocational, tertiary) but the reverse is the case. Even though we operate a partially free basic education system, the standard obtained is nothing to write home about. A sight-seeing tour of the 36 states and 774 local governments in Nigeria will expose you to the rot in our public primary and secondary education system, from dilapidated buildings to less hygiene schooling environments, overcrowded classrooms, lack of basic learning equipment’s, substandard teaching staffs, obsolete and outdated syllabus, extortion of pupils/students by government education agencies in form of fees and levies, lack of proper checks and balance at instance where government or international agency release funds or learning materials for educational advancement. All these have robbed us off the good we can derive from the presumed leaders of tomorrow; worst still is the ever increasing numbers of school dropout and even out of school children. It is an eye sore when you drive round major cities and highways in Nigeria, you see school aged children turned professional beggars, wind screen cleaners in traffic, niche narcotic distributors, street hawkers, domestic labors, child bride (teenage pregnancy) , store keepers while some just roam the streets during school hours.
These out of school children, no matter the circumstance pose a great danger to the society and nation at large because an educated mind is a liberated mind (liberty from social vices). The out of school children that have been exposed to several vices from tender age will grow up and constitute nuisance to the environment, wreaking havoc on people from pickpocketing to petty thieves , drug abusers, tout, political thugs and even ganging up to form cult society, militant groups or terrorists (suicide bombers).
To avert this looming danger and also take immediate measures in reviving our ailing public primary and secondary education system, drastic steps must be taken by all tiers of government. It is no more news that about 48% of student’s fail WAEC exams yearly (do not attain minimum 5 credits) and over 75% of those that passed WAEC were aided to cheat during exams no thanks to our corrupt system where everything is compromised and all Mr. Integrity has a price. If a student had passed WAEC in all sincerity, there should be no need for JAMB or other competency test as a yard stick for admittance into tertiary institution as obtainable in other nations. But since we are all aware that the system is compromised, hence lack of trust across borders. It is also pathetic to note that several state government that owes teacher’s salary will find joy in disbursing bursary (which do not get to it actual targets) to indigenous students within and outside the state institutions, in like terms the state owned tertiary institutions are much more expensive to enroll as compared to federal schools. To make matter worst some state governments as part of their jamboree still sponsor students to study abroad when their state owned schools are either on strike or poorly funded.
Promulgation and implementation of a new national schooling program (public primary and secondary school) that will drive all school aged children back to school.
Establishment of standard quality free and compulsory basic education schooling program for all (a clue from awolowos model in the old western region).
Review and upgrade of our primary and secondary school curriculum to meet with international best practice standard as obtainable worldwide.
Increase budgetary allocation, improve infrastructure, proper funding of our basic education institute and constant supply of all learning materials needed for studying.
Eradication of all forms of payment, levies and fees directly or indirectly in all our government owned primary and secondary schools.
Disbursement of free uniforms, textbooks, sandals and bags to all pupils/students (which is a better option compared to the school feeding program).
Integration of high end technological driven vocational and ICT studies into our primary and secondary school curriculum.
Establishment and accreditation of post-secondary school vocational/technical training centers for students that do not desire to pursue academics further. (This is a norm in Asian countries where skilled labors are certified and can compete with their counterpart whom had gone ahead to study in tertiary institution), this will also reduce the number of people seeking admission into tertiary institution as a last resort for societal relevance.
Mandate all military, para-military, police and corps to arrest, charge and prosecute parents of children found defaulting/wandering around during school hours.
Recruitment of more qualified basic school teaching staffs and training of existing once.
Incorporate sporting activities into basic school curriculum, this will assist in discovering genuine sports talent especially in age grade competitions and curb the idea of age falsification.
If these highlighted points are well implemented, the long term benefit will be a more secured, learned and technological oriented society coupled with development of Nigerian technology (fabrication, manufacturing and improvising). This will also curb the over reliance on university degree rather than individuals ability, the issue of university degree falsification will subside also unemployment and crime rate will be reduced.
I hereby appeal to all stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to see from my point of view and act fast before this ticking time bomb explode.
A certain generation of Nigerians parley with the foreign ally to bring formal education unto this land, another generation struggled for the independence of this nation, a further generation fought for the unity and sovereignty of Nigeria. This present generation of leaders I wait to see what legacy will be inherited from them.
Nigerian Senate, House of Representatives
Federal Ministry of Education
National Commission for Mass Literacy (NMEC)
Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC)
All State Governors and Commissioners of Education
All States Assembly
Comrade Solomon Sunday Jacob
Initiator, Education for All Campaign
Member, Education Right Campaign
08164693304 (SMS only)