There is need to address the rot in our schools
Following the criticisms that have for years trailed the suspension of the teaching of history in Nigerian schools, the federal government recently ordered the reintroduction of the subject in basic schools across the country. The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who called for the dis-articulation of social studies in the current curriculum of basic schools and reintroduction of history as a subject, said this has become imperative given the critical nature of history to the nation’s socio-political development. “It is only the study of history, our own history, that can explain and give meaning to our very humanity and that is why we must study it and teach our little ones”, said Adamu, adding that our history would give the Nigerian child a self identity of who they really are.
While we commend the minister for the decision, we nonetheless call for a structured approach to addressing the rot in the educational sector in our country beyond tokenism. Today, there is an urgent need to come up with policies that would offer the Nigerian child a good learning environment, guarantee quality education and ensure globally acceptable learning outcomes.
That, we believe, will necessitate creating a credible process whereby the most debilitating problems of Nigeria’s human capital development can be easily identified, resolved or managed in a sustainable manner. The objective, of course, is to enhance the global competitiveness of all products of the Nigerian educational system. That is the challenge we would want Adamu to begin to tackle.
For a country in a hurry to develop, and in dire need to catch up with today’s knowledge economy, Nigeria is too far behind in education. From the primary to secondary and the tertiary levels, the educational system is in a shambles, plagued by outdated and poorly- equipped libraries, poor teaching facilities, inadequate teachers, decaying infrastructure, poor student/teacher ratio, absence of internet facilities, and non-conducive learning environment.
Today, students find it increasingly difficult to access good libraries, decent research laboratories and modern technological gadgets which facilitate teaching and learning. The continuing drop in funding has also adversely affected the quality of academic staff while many of the products of our educational system are barely literate. The functionally literate ones are considered non-creative and unproductive which then explains why the corporate labour market shuns most of them. The challenge is more at the tertiary level.
While inadequate funding has been one of the major problems of the education sector, policymakers have not demonstrated the will to devise a way of addressing this challenge. For instance, a 2012 World Bank table of the annual budgetary allocation to education by some selected countries placed Nigeria at the bottom, occupying the 20th position out of 20 countries selected. Rather than address this problem of funding, government has been preoccupied with establishing new universities to ensure federal character and sometimes for purely political reasons.
As we have consistently stated on this page, there is the need for more private and public investments in education at all levels. Therefore, better ways of funding our tertiary institutions must be found because the world’s best universities have enormous cash with which they attract the best to their communities – from the latest technologies to the brightest professors.
Given the foregoing, we invite the attention of the Federal Ministry of Education to the challenges facing the educational sector in our country today. It bears repeating for us to say that “for as long as education is in the doldrums, for so long shall the future of the nation and that of the leaders of tomorrow, be there with it”.