Sunday, 2 December 2012

Education in Nigeria? A Looming Disaster

The Nigerian Education system.... The chickens has finally come home to roost!! Knowledge they say is power.....but one indisputable fact remains that no knowledge is acquired without education! Be it formal or non-formal education.In this 21st century, every aspect of the human world is driven by technology and innovation, ICT has also "revolutionized" our daily lives, hence, turning the world into a global village. The advanced countries of the world such as US, UK China, Brazil, India etc are rich and powerful, not because they have any special natural resources, but they have succeeded in putting their educational system in its rightful place. Hence, their educational system does not only help in their nation building, but it also serve as a revenue generator!The proof is not far fetched as the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian (CVC), said on Saturday that Nigerians spend an average of $500 million dollars annually to European and American universities!!!That is a huge amount considering the fact  that the amount was about 70 per cent of the total allocation in 2008 to all federal universities.The communique, signed by Prof. Michael Faborode noted that this was an indication of the loss of faith in Nigerian universities as shown by the rush for foreign institutions, even to other African countries.It said that constant restiveness of students between host communities, school administration, weak governance structure and processes, were some of the challenges facing the Nigerian Higher Education Sector.
According to the communique, these have contributed to disruptions of the academic calendar, including the constant bickering between the academic staff union, other staff unions, university management and government. As ways of rejuvenating the ailing system,  the committee resolved to restore a culture of consultation, strategic productive engagement, and partnership, collaboration between management and staff of Nigerian higher education institutions.I quite agree with the CVCs as the problems they listed above are undeniably, PART of the problems militating against our tertiary education. But the root of the  MAIN problem can be analyzed in two ways:

(i) The QUALITY of education obtainable in our tertiary institutions and;
(ii) The academic standards of the prospective students.

A friend of mine once told me that a University is like a petrol station, whenever there is a queue(irrespective of what caused the queue), the customers have two option: wait until it is His/Her turn or drive to the next station. This is similar to what we have in our current educational system.Our tertiary institutions has become a shadow of its glorious days, producing UNEMPLOYABLE graduates.
So many factors has contributed to this ugly situation, but chief among them are:
(i) The unpatriotic government policies
(ii) Poor management of the institutions by the officials of the school
(iii) The nonchalant attitude of the teaching staffs.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) recommended a total of about 26 per cent of the total budget to education for its member states.In the Nigerian 2012 budget, a mere 8.43 per cent was allocated to the education sector, that's about N400.15 Billion.A total of about 82 per cent of the said budget was for recurrent expenditure! While a meager 18 per cent was for capital expenditure.The implication of the above kind of budget is that our roads, schools, power supply etc will remain virtually just the way they are(or probably worse), while all we do every year is feed and pay our political office holders. Of courses, you can be rest assured that the better part of the   meager 18 per cent for capital expenditure will SURELY find its way down the deep pockets of the same political office holders and their cronies.The management of the various tertiary institutions in the country has also contributed to this decadence. We have seen situation where appointments into various offices are not based on merit, but on "connection", indigenous or along religious affiliations.This has resulted in putting the round pegs in square holes, thereby truncating the  management of such  educational institutions. Most tragically is the nonchalant behaviors of our teaching staffs(lecturers)! So many of them are notorious for demanding for  sex or money for grades, truancy, laziness etc.Education is a continuous process, and you would wonder the quality of graduates those lecturers can produce.Albert Einstein once said, "if you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself" It won't be a "sin" questioning the competence of some teaching staff, as they are also a product of the decayed system.I once had a lecturer who taught me in 2009 with the same material(note) he wrote in 1986! That tells you more about how current he is in his field of study.The Federal government has budgeted an impressive N428 Billion for the education sector in 2013! This sounds good owing to the fact that this is the first time the educational sector is getting the highest share of the national budget. However, let's hope and pray the budget is fully implemented; with respect to  how it should be managed and what it protrays to the sector.Enter the quality of the prospective candidates for tertiary education.As a youth corper serving in one of the secondary schools in Asaba Delta state, I became fully aware of how bleak the future looks for the upcoming generations after my first day in class.Unless something URGENT is done, I see no hope for these young boys and girls.

In a subsequent article, I will write more on the "FREE"  education in Delta state under governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.But considering the fact that education is a continuous process, then one must be concerned by the academic qualities of the  prospective university students.A visit to public primary and secondary schools across the federation will surely leave one in a mournful mood, the infrastructures are dilapidated, the classes are virtually without doors and windows, the library or science laboratories are virtually non-existent. Yet round the year, these schools promotes and graduates students some of whom can barely read or write.It is no surprise that when these kids get to the tertiary institutions where the educational and intellectual requirements are high and tasking, they begin to manifest the "symptoms" of lack of basic education.Like they say, you can force a horse to the stream, but you cannot force the horse to drink. Hence, it becomes a problem getting these set of students to settle and learn.So, in addition to the solutions proffered by the CVCs, I think we need to go back to the drawing board. We urgently need to overhaul the public primary and secondary schools, so as to produce prospective candidates who are willing to learn for the tertiary institutions.This process has to go back to the recruitment process of staffs for the basic schools, as teaching is a profession which is passion driven; we need to recruit teachers who have the passion for impacting knowledge not those who are there because they can't seem to find any other means of livelihood.

The federal government must as a matter of urgency, develop other sectors of the economy so that the craze for acquisition of certificates can be reduced. Laws must be put in place and enforced to check mate looting, nonchalant attitude and any form of inappropriate behaviors on the part of the school management and teaching staffs.We must ask ourselves, why is it that government owned institutions are poorly managed but private institutions owned by these same poor  managers becomes successful within few years of establishment? Negligence, looting, poor management, truancy etc are not tolerated in private institutions, but whenever its a public venture, the "it is government's money" syndrome comes to fore.

Just like the HIV virus, when allowed to spread, if you are not directly INFECTED, then you will be indirectly AFFECTED. No one can exist in isolation, for instance, the current security challenges in the country is a by product of years of negligence on the part of the government, we the citizens are also culpable  as we have failed to hold our leaders accountable for the huge amounts budgeted for security every year. Hence the senseless killings, kidnappings,bank robberies etc, which may not have  affected any of us directly; but must have affected our loved ones.

We are working towards vision 2020, yet capital flight and brain drain are on astronomical increase as a result of years of neglect, embezzlement and mediocrity .

The chickens has finally come home to roost........did I hear you say na wa ooo?

Mazi joe

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