TOPIC – THE DECADENCE IN NIGERIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM IN THE FACE OF ECONOMIC RECESSION; A COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS AND WAY FORWARD
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SUBMITTED BY – RUTH OKERE
“Numerous are the streams that leads to social prosperity and all spring from the same source and that is public education”. Gaspar Jovellanos
Education is regarded virtually everywhere as paramount to ensuring economic development as well as wiping out ignorance. The cruciality and utmost relevance of education in a developing country like Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Despite this obvious fundamental reality, we (Nigerians) play blind to the effects of recession, a cancerworm that has eaten deep into every sector of our nation’s economy, education, the most visible. The issues facing schools are by no means new, as with those facing other sectors, they are simply more acute and pressing in times of recession.
Amongst all of this of course, is the oft- ignored question of what is education for at all? With teachers complaining about the very broad curriculums and poor welfare and students resenting them even more, it is obvious that education is beginning to lose it’s purpose, most of us no longer know what education for it’s own sake feels like.
Most people who educate themselves on matters like this are aware that in the past few years, our country has constantly been among those who occupy the top position among states with the highest number of out of school children, who are supposedly our leaders of tomorrow. This is a big blow on our face as a nation as even our government seem to be less concerned while giving us the “trying all we can” card.
The pressure on governnent has even begun to die down as individuals would rather find alternatives amidst recession than find time to be informed on matters such as the yearly budget allocation and what percent was set aside for the education sector. In 2016, just 369billion Naira was allocated to education which is way against the 26% bench-mark recommendation of the United Nations Education, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for developing nations.
For many others who have envisaged very comfortable academic environment for their wards, this might result in a change as school fees has gone up with the rise in the exchange rates. Not forgetting the millions of parents affected by delayed salary payments, unfavorable government policies, hike in the prices of commodities, high transportation cost, among others.
It isn’t a different case in tertiary institutions as year on year, the number of working students continues to increase rapidly. These are students who ought to pay sole attention to their books but instead, divide it between part-time jobs and other means, to be able to attend to their various academic needs. With some universities on the brink of financial ruin prior to the recession, the money definitely has to come from somewhere which often leads to the spring up of evil vices.
Concerning the decay in the country’s education sector are facts below;
- The country is among the states with the highest rates of out of school children in the world, according to the Global Monitoring Report (GMR).
- Despite the substantial growth of Nigerian GNP per capital, the investment in educating young Nigerians remains very low.
- There is an average of four abandoned projects per university in Nigeria with negative consequences for classrooms, students’ hostels and laboratories.
- Universities do not have adequate supply of Ph.Ds but Ph.D holders seek graduate-level positions and some compete to be truck drivers.
Another question which should bother us is how can education can thrive in the midst of recession? This might prove a little difficult to agree on, owning to the fact that every other person may provide solutions as it affects them.
First is the placement of emphasis on education and the teaching profession. Everyone should be educated on the importance of education and the need to strive in pursuit of it.
There should also be a demand on free education. Free education should be something sought after by various organizations and high ranking individuals who have no affiliation whatsoever with the government. After all, most of these individuals benefited from free education and other educational incentives. The student union government, for example, in a university should be able to protect the interest of the students, every other thing being equal.
The issue of abandoned projects should be looked into- universities admistrations should know how capable they are before embarking into various multi-million projects so as to avoid abandonment. Small projects could be taken up for a start to eliminate poor infrastructure which adversely affects teaching, research, learning and students’ health and safety.
The eradication of corruption cannot be left out as it is one of the major cause of the recession and can be linked to the other causes one way or the other. Corrupt individuals in both government and non-government owned agencies should be fished out and dealt with adequately.
In the end, the fate of millions of Nigerians concerning education and recession will be determined by how the problem is handled by the appropriate authorities and the steps other intellects take in making sure education is acquired at all cost.