For a long time Nigerian education system has been declining. Teaching methods and curricula are obsolete and less effective. Teaching environment are unconducive for learning. Teachers are poorly trained and paid. The government now uses National Youth Service Corp member (irrespective of academic training) as teachers in Secondary schools.
Excursions, debates, science projects, craft making, music, painting, games and sports etc. are not included in public primary schools core activities anymore. Secondary school students are not properly educated due to bad education policies and infrastructure. For instance, history as a subject is not taught in primary and secondary school in Nigeria. Science and tech practical classes do not hold anymore due to lack of laboratories and workshop.
In this era when robotics, Artificial Intelligence, nanotechnology etc. are the focuses of universities, Nigerian universities prefer to teach secondary school subjects like: Use of English, Introduction to Computer Science, and Nigerian People and Culture (which are all compulsory courses). Students spend a minimum of four years learning irrelevant subjects, obsolete skills and unproductive ways of thinking, after which they graduate with little or no skill required in today’s society.
Nigerian tertiary education in sciences and engineering can only be compared to secondary education of most developed countries. Science experiments taught in practical classes are those meant for secondary school. Computer science students spend more time in school learning basic obsolete computer languages that on graduation many graduate cannot develop any system, write any program or install a software.
Education is culture, and different education systems show different societies’ cultures. Nigerian education system was not shaped by Nigerian culture like we have in Finnish, American, chinese or German education system. The Nigerian system does not reflect a Nigerian ideology or philosophy. It doesn’t reflect the people’s culture. It doesn’t fit Nigeria’s economy or economic plan.
The system is keeping Nigerians poor and unproductive. The system has already denied a generation proper education and socioeconomic empowerment as many young Nigerians have more than 16 years of formal education yet no knowledge or skill that is relevant or marketable in the Nigerian society.
Nigerian education system discourages technical and vocational education, as such it is despised by parents and parents. The government discourages technical and vocational education to the extent that they don’t build technical schools any more. In the last decades we have seen the government converting polytechnics and monotechnics to universities even when it is obvious the country lacks manpower with technical skills needed to drive industrialization.
Education in Nigeria is now all about university degrees and certificates. People go to school mainly to acquire certificates instead of knowledge because in Nigerian society, academic and professional certificates are more important than knowledge or know-how. It is common to see people piling acronyms or abbreviations of degrees, diplomas and certificates before and after their names to show they have education.
In order to acquire these certificates students spend more of their time mastering how to answer exam questions and pass exams than acquiring knowledge or education. They study their lecturer’s past questions, past marking scheme and marking pattern. They even ask for area of concentration of exam questions. They read mainly for exams and tests. It is common to hear students say, “no be the person who read pass know book, na the person wey pass exam know book,” meaning it is not the most studious person that is knowledgeable but the person with the best test grades.
Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends.”
The future of Nigeria sure depends on the education of its citizens and the present education system is hindering systematic development. Nigerian education system is mainly made up of public schools as such fixing public schools is fixing most of the problems in the system.
Unfortunately, public schools are at the mercy of politicians and senior government officials, and because the children of these politicians and government officials don’t attend public schools they have no personal interest in making it work or improving it. They have never allocated more than 11% of national budget to education and most are ever willing to divert money meant for public schools to fund their children’s education in private schools or schools abroad.
Nigeria needs a working education system. But with the kind of people in leadership position, the country may not have a working system anytime soon, unless the children of those who are in government are mandated to attend public schools. Thus radical approach will drastically improve education in the country.
One of the reason why Finland has the best education system in the world today is because private schools are forbidden in the country.