Now is the best time for people in power to hold a national dialogue to drive the focus of Nigeria’s education system in such a direction that plays to citizens’ strength and skills-set, write Kofo Babalola
Technology can be used to innovate an educational system for Nigeria
A mind is a powerful tool. It is in the mind our imaginations are allowed to run wild. So much happens in our mind beyond our imagination, but it is the act of educating that develops our brain to think in different ways.
It broadens the web that forms our thinking. Education builds the networks in our brain, enabling us to see the world in a different lens. It is interesting how education during the early stages of our lives is compulsory in most countries. There are many countries that offer free education to the youth but why is it that they stop this scheme past a certain age?
There is something that one learns during the early stages of their lives in classrooms that cannot be replaced. It is much more than just learning what is in the book. It is the act of communicating with those that they have not come into contact with before, beyond their safe spaces at home.
The skill of communication of knowledge is one that is built in the gathering of people. Schools enable the passing down of knowledge from the person standing in front of the classroom to those seating ready to absorb the transmission of knowledge.
However, how this transmission of knowledge comes about is dictated by the curriculum chosen by the institution. Therefore, it is crucial to analyze what is being taught in these educational institutions.
Education is a foundation that should be vital to all citizens of the country. There should be a drive to eliminate these divisions created in the educational field as all educational institutions both private and public should utilize the same curriculum. How do we create a curriculum at every level of study that will target the needs of our country? Much study needs to be made on how we can teach in a fast and effective way.
How do we tailor the way of teaching to suit all despite their different levels? Through recent ventures in Internally Displaced camps, there is not much room to house classrooms. How do we teach in these situations in which there is only one hall full of hundreds of kids? As this is often the case, how do we teach them in a way that they remember what they are being taught?
This shows the desperate need for simplicity in the nature of the curriculum as it doesn’t need to be as complex as what is being taught elsewhere to get the job done. We need to educate them not in ways that follow societal norms but in ways that will cause us as a country to move forward.
We need to cut through the frivolous junk that are often taught in the classrooms of the Western world and key into what we need to create change in Nigeria as it is those children that are in the classrooms that are going to be the leaders of our future.
It is often those that are here on the ground that end up being in positions of power so how do we trigger a change in what actually happens here on the ground and how do we change the course of the nation to lead us into better days?
It is by educating one with quality. Intelligence is often a word we associate with obtaining the highest accolade in academia as someone is labelled as being smart when one gets the highest possible grade or result in the area of their studies. Although this shows a high level of intelligence as they manage to absorb a great majority of what is being taught in the classroom, I still believe intelligence is much bigger than academia. But it all begins with academia. What often the world views as intelligence is not necessarily the complete picture. One can be smart in ways that are beyond the definition of ‘book smart.’
You don’t necessarily have to prove your smartness through an exam paper that only lasts a very small fraction of your life. This is what is used in the Western world to measure a certain level of smartness. Intelligence is looking at the world around you in a bigger picture and realizing that you only make up a very small part of it but how to use this small space that you take up to make a difference.
It is about how we broaden the way we think that is beyond what the curriculum dictates. However, it all begins with using the simple tools that education gives us to create a bigger impact. How do we do that with a very narrow-minded way of thinking that curricula often beat into us?
It is often misunderstood that the Western world’s way of teaching is the best way in the world of academics. We often look up to their way of teaching when, in fact, they are forever evolving. They definitely don’t have it all sorted out as they continuously battle in trials and errors. We, as a nation, are wrong to think that their way of teaching is good for our country as we set up international schools that are solely based on the British or American curriculum.
We need to find our way of teaching and adapt to our standards, not their standards. It is only by the use of technology that one can actually innovate an educational system that is best suited for the nation.
One that is not based on the complexities of a plethora of subjects but simply focuses on the key skills that we need as a nation to move forward. We need to teach those in schools a way of looking forward in a pragmatic way as it is those in the classrooms who will be leading the nation in years to come.
We often forget that our country is in many ways different from others as we face problems that are in contrast to theirs. So how do we come up with a new and effective educational system?
It begins with people in power to hold conversations to reach a goal that points towards change.
We need to change the way we teach. We need to find the root cause of the problems that our country often faces and craft an educational system that develops the skills necessary to tackle these problems.
––Babalola is an Engineering student of the University College London