The rate of illiteracy in Nigeria is still high, with the country currently made up of about 35% of illiterate adults however, if the 65% literates had truly obtained a sustainable education and are rightly applying the knowledge that they ought to have been impacted with, in the way and manner that harness and utilize the potentiality of their minds, the country would have become the true giant of Africa in all aspect of growth and development by now, right?
Ironically, as the rate of its literacy grows from 15.6 % in 1960 (UNESCO) to about 62.02% (2018), the creativity and productivity of its workforce as reflected in the development related realities seems to be decreasing and the complexity of the scenario makes it difficult for one to point at a particular factor that is responsible for such. Despite that, one thing is clear: a nation can only be as good as the education it offers. Thus, the poor development hanging on the shoulder of the country today is but a mirror of the model that defined the existing system, policies and vision of it’s education.
Nigeria and it’s education
Nigeria is the most populated nation in Africa accounting for about a half of the population of the seventeen West African countries with a population of over 206 million people, made up of 50.68% men and 49.32% women. Yet only 53% of Nigerian women age 15-49 are literate, compared with 75% of men (2013). However, this seems to be but a mere symptom of a more sophisticated disease as the problem with the education system in Nigeria is more than just gender inequality.
While analyzing the unemployment menace facing the country, prof. Uche (2021) noted that among other factors, the Nigerian education system which is non- functional and which promotes job seekers rather than job creators is also to be blame. Babatope (2013) referred to the Nigerian education institutions as graduates manufacturing factories that produces not marketable, poorly trained and quarterly baked non creative first class graduates that waits for chance to smile on them.
Evidentially, the reason why Nigerian learning institutions are now equated with factories is because of the importance attached to certificate in the employment market. The first criterion to gain any meaningful employment in the country is not skills, ability, or competence but certificate. This is why all sorts of atrocities from malpractices, buying of results to Certificate forgery are on the high side.
What COVID-19 reveal about the Nigerian education
Amidst the disruption of classrooms caused by the spread of Coruna virus, countries like China, USA, Russia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, among others, were able to adopt several measures and modalities that serve alternatively as the new way of facilitating learning. However, in Nigeria while children where forced to stay at home to cushion the spread of the deadly virus, majority of them could not access education within that period due to the lack of proper arrangement for alternative provision by the government and/or the inability to afford it.
During that period, the disparity between the learning opportunities that exist for the children of the wealthy ones and those from poor background became more clearer. Those who are well-to-do financially not only made necessary provisions for e-learning but some of them also hired private tutors for their Children while the disadvantage children were left with only the fate of waiting for the reopening of schools.
This situation have exposed how weak, and truly nonfunctional the Nigerian education system is. And the weakness and non-functionality of the system stems from the constant failure to realize the truth in the words of the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, that “the only constant in life is change” that is why for decades now the country have been so comfortable with the old ways of learning without any second thought on the need to think of learning in the modern perspective that’ll not be limited to space, or job.
Education in other countries
Over the years, with the emergence and advancement of science and technology, most nations have been trying to develop new education models in accordance with the 21st century skills that have been accepted globally as necessary demand for local and global development. The most effective education models in the world today are those that inspire independent jurisdiction to imitate global oriented knowledge, reorganize it, and construct new one that will relate better and effectively with the immidiate social, cultural, and environmental realities .
For instance, China been one of the countries with the largest economy and arguably the country with the largest education system formulated their education model out of the desire to achieve socio- economic development while Bhutan, its neighboring country that believed that happiness is more fundamental for development modeled its own education with the goal of boosting what they called Gross National Happiness (GHS). And On the other hand, Finland founded its own model on the basis of inclusive education and is widely known today for the lack of disparity in its provision of learning opportunities.
Hence, aside the fact that nations around the globe are trying to find new ways to integrate learning with technology, every country is also trying to reconcile education with its own peculiarity, heritage , national aspiration and values.
Developing a new National model
There’s an argument that the problem with the Nigerian education model originates from the principles upon which it is founded. Western education was established in Nigeria through the effort of the missionaries and the support of the colonial master’s. The sole aim of the missionaries was to train the people in literary skills, especially the ability to read, because it was clear to them that without that, it is extremely difficult for their message to be received by the people when there’s no smooth flow of communication.
While the colonial Administration started contributing to the provision of education in order to empower those working for them with the basic knowledge that’ll help them to be more proficient in attaining their duties. This is one of the reasons why a large number of people that passed through the Nigerian education system to the level of obtaining excellent decrees end up as liabilities in situations where the government is unable to provide job for them because the education system only focus on helping them to develop cognitive skills without giving the necessary attention to other equally important skills needed to empower them with the ability of finding solutions to real problems that the society is facing and creating opportunities for self and others.
Therefore, there’s need for the country to change its education model from the one that was inherited from the colonial masters to a more original, indigenous and localized model that is inspired by (I) the peculiarity of its environment ( II) cultural heritage, (III) the kind of resources available within its Jurisdiction, (IV) the commitment of the nation to global understanding and prosperity and (V) the ICT opportunities that it can afford to make available, so that those that passed through its education system may the posses the necessary skills that’ll help them to employ their minds to be creative, innovative and upright in a manner capable of remedying it’s development challenges, unemployment crisis and poor ethics.
1. Babangida L, Usman A. I &Auwalu H. (2013). Comparative study of the state of literacy in Nigeria andcuba. European Scientific Journal 9(19)
4. Nigeria and Health Survey (NDHS).(2013). Genderin Nigeria. Rockville, Maryland, USA.
5. Prof.Uche. U (2021). WORSENINGunemployment: Why jobs are disappearing in Nigeria, by experts .VanguardNews. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2021/04/worsening-unemployment-why-jobs-are-disappearing-in-nigeria-by-experts/amp
7. World bank. (2020). Howcountries are using edtech (including online learning, radio, television,texting) to support access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/edutech/brief/how-countries-are-using-edtech-to-support-remote-learning-during-the-covid-19-pandemic
9. Matthew J. & T.W. Maxwell.(2016). Education in Bhutan Culture,Schooling, and Gross National Happiness. Springer.