This article was prompted by a long interactive session I heard with an international researcher, prolific writer and senior lecturer at the University of Ilorin, Dr. Raymond Ogunade, who raised alarm about the falling state of Nigeria’s education system after returning from an academic fellowship in the United States of America. Political interference in the academic system, lecturers using students’ researches for promotion, and lack of intellectual commitment, among others were salient issues raised by Ogunade.
I have always argued vehemently that research is the bedrock for progress; an individual, group, organization, society or nation cannot expand beyond the present without research- intellectual research to be specific; researches in various fields (agric, health, social relation, technology e.t.c) that will ameliorate the plight of the people.
Apparently, no nation can succeed beyond its level of education; the outcome of quality education is seen in nations across the world. Russia, Germany, China, US, India, South Africa, Ghana among others have proven that education is capable of ensuring structural sustainable developments in any society irrespective of the decay in such society; perhaps, this explains why, Nelson Mandela the great asserted that “education is the only weapon that can change the world”.
Education is the key to eliminating gender inequality, to reducing poverty, to creating a sustainable planet, to preventing needless deaths and illness, and to fostering peace. And in a knowledge economy, education is the new currency by which nations maintain economic competitiveness and global prosperity; unfortunately, these productive features of education are yet to be a reality in Nigeria due to the fall of education in the country.
Reassessing Nigeria’s education system may not be necessary because the decay in the sector is apparent; the standard of education has diminished speedily in Nigeria over the years. The reasons are too many and complex to examine in a paper. However, poor funding of the education sector by the government, display of political interests in academic affairs, unethical behavior among academic staff among others are few examples of such reasons. Of course, the unending fall in Nigeria’s education system is due to lack of proper education.
“The standard of education in Nigeria will continue to fall because politics and white collar jobs are hindering the development of the sector,” says Ibrahim Malumfashi, the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Kaduna State University. He further stated that “there was support from government in terms of infrastructure, recruitment of staff, equipment and so on, even the monitoring aspect of the system was better before than what is obtainable today. At that time, you had inspectors for primary and secondary schools and they were always up and doing. From the early 1970’s to the 80’s, we started observing retrogression in the sector…” The fall in Nigeria’s education system cannot be overemphasized, the degeneration is speedy and the gap it creates is apparent.
Education is an investment, and one of the most critical investments we can make. Nigeria is at point where the citizens are hungry for sustainable change in the nation; however, this is impossible without intensive investment in the education sector. The educational gap in Nigeria has to be bridged in other to ensure development in the nation. Today, around the globe, an estimated 61 million primary-aged children are out of school, almost half of them in conflict-affected poor countries. Too often, even those students who do go to school finish without basic literacy and numeracy skills, it is estimated that 250 million children cannot read, write or count well.
No doubt, Nigeria shares a large population in this statistics. Irrespective of the profession chosen, the influence of education makes a serious difference, with the on-going state of education in Nigeria, the future of the nation is at risk as things may get worse.
(B.A, M.A Ilorin, DELF Paris)