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TOPIC – NIGERIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM AND THE 21ST CENTURY CHALLENGE, A NEED FOR FUNDAMENTAL REFORMATION
Submitted by – Abioye Deborah
Have you ever wondered what kind of output to expect from the Nigerian education system and the actual output we get today? In the first place, a huge investment of time and money is certainly what education is. After all, it pays off anytime and anywhere. There are various systems adopted to monitor the implementation of education.
Basically, looking at Nigerian Education System , the 6-3-3-4 (6 years primary school , 3 years junior secondary school, 3 years senior secondary school and 4 years tertiary school)system, whose aim is to develop every Nigerian child according to his or her ability and to ensure that those who have technical and vocational skills receive the basic education that empowers them accordingly while children with higher scholastic abilities proceed to the tertiary education level, was conceived under Gowon administration. It is a sorting system.
Also, advancing technology, increasing mobility rate, increasing population, increasing globalism, diminishing value system, increasing media saturation, among others are highly connected with the 21st century and has brought about a different approach in the implementation of education. Poor policy implementation is also part of the challenges facing Nigerian education system, not the 6-3-3-4 system because any good policy not well implemented is as good as a bad policy. At least, it is being used in US and some other countries of the world. As an illustration, Japan, one of the world’s best-educated populations, has a close supervision on curriculum, classes and maintains a uniform level of education in her country also employ the 6-3-3-4 system. So, what’s wrong with our own? Particularly, in an increasingly globalised world, Nigerian education system must also be in good condition for her to develop her economy and join the emerging global powers of the world. If we check our approach of implementing policies, a high education standard is possible.
Furthermore, in a country where pervasive corruption, diminishing value system, bad policy implementation, obsession with paper qualification and bad governance is the order of the day, what would the education system in such country look like? In Nigeria today, corruption has made our leaders allocate inadequate funds to the education sector. Teachers earn meager salaries that barely support them. Hence, they compromise education standards in order to survive the difficult economic environment. As a result of the diminished value system, bribery and corruption is not only peculiar to the governing bodies. In fact, school administrators, teachers, parents and even the society at large are partakers. Parents no longer see anything wrong in falsehood; consequently, they help their children to cheat. Since we’re in a society where too much importance is placed on certificates and no one cares about the sustainable process.
Obviously, the failure of education reforms has made Nigerians obsessed with paper qualification and chains of diplomas and degrees. Education is much more than that, it’s a life-long pursuit. As an example, Bill Gates, the richest man in the world and also the co-owner of Microsoft, pursued his dream even as a school drop-out. He dropped out of school but didn’t stop learning. We can say how would a university drop-out be the richest man in the world? Yes, it is ironical but we are in a world of competitive enterprise and one has to continue updating himself. Thus, it is germane for Nigerian educators to re-visit our curriculum, pedagogical and assessment practices. Students in the 21st century need not only an education system, they need a teaching –learning process and a flexible curriculum that will acknowledge their potentials, engage them in research, develop their creativity capacity and also prepare them to face the challenges of the future. If all these are achieved, students that are privileged to acquire only technical and vocational skills will not find it difficult to make it in life and dignity will be attached to every profession and also, we won’t be obsessed with paper qualifications which may not be authentic.
Despite the fact that teachers earn low salaries, compromise education standards, and are unstable in their jobs (they have other jobs they give more attention to, with the teaching job as a side profession), they are also incompetent. This is as a result of lack of constant updating and training of teachers on better ways to pass knowledge across to their students. Some teachers got themselves in the teaching profession through ‘‘connections’’ and do not know what teaching actually entails and those who know what it entails are not teaching how it’s meant to be done in this century. However, teachers in the 21st century must be able to prepare all students to enter a global world and be life-long learners. For this to be achieved, our teacher-education must be reviewed. The government must set up a teacher-education program that will be made mandatory for those who want to remain in the teaching line. Our teachers must be re-trained so that our educational mindset and school culture will be aligned to the reality of the 21st century, otherwise, as Scott McLead said, ‘’our education will be dangerously irrelevant.’’
Eventually, corruption, bad governance, bad policy implementation and corrupted value system will set back Nigeria’s human and economic development the more, thereby, making the youth suffer and mortgaging the future of the generation’s unborn. Therefore, a fundamental reformation is pertinent. Also, the process of our education reforms must match the scientific and technological innovation for it to remain relevant to the learner and the nation. If all these are achieved, a great output will be yielded and here it is, a better Nigeria.