The relationship between the tertiary and secondary sectors of education in Nigeria is a similitude of the water cycle as observed in nature. In this cycle, through the intense power of the sun’s heat, water from above the earth’s surface rise to the sky in the form of evaporations, and comes back again to the earth’s surface in the form of precipitations such as rainfall or snowfall after it might have undergone some processes in the sky. The likeness of this lucid description of a natural scenario can be observed in the interplay between the secondary and higher tiers of education in Nigeria to a discerning observer.
The closest replica of the analogy above in the relationship between the secondary school sector and the institutions of higher learning lies in the fact that the young secondary school leavers constitute the pool of admission seekers from which the higher institutions select their yearly intake for enrolment. These intakes undergo some processes of learning and reformations within three, four, five or more number of years sojourns within the jurisdictions of the higher institutions before their eventual release into the societies as professionals in different fields of endeavors either as properly, half or quarter-baked as the case may be for the serious and lucky ones. Majority of the unserious intakes might have been booted out earlier after a year or less of their admissions.
The graduated ones eventually move on to occupy several key positions in the societies ranging from engineering to medicals, industries, oil and gas sectors, with some of them returning back to staff the education sectors where they originated from both at the secondary level as teachers, and at the tertiary level as lecturers, and the vicious cycle continues.
Going by the above, it is therefore safe to conclude that whatever goes wrong with the education at the secondary level automatically goes wrong with the education at the tertiary level, and as well with the societies at large. However, we must all wake and facilitate our quick and immediate return journey from the slumber land for a quick embrace of the sad truth and the bitter realization that all is not well with the Nigeria secondary education system.
Credence to this assertion is not far-fetched judging from the series of the cases of expulsions, suspensions, and dismissals of these sets of secondary school graduates from the various higher institutions of learning across the country, in their first year of studies due to various offences ranging from truancies, hooliganisms, examination malpractices, poor academic performances amongst other newly acquired legion of vices. The Federal University of Technology, Minna expelled seven hundreds of her students in the 2015/2016 academic session for various offences ranging from bad behaviors, examination malpractices and poor academic performances. (http://www.jtown.com). Going further down the memory lane, the University of Lagos in the same vein withdrew one thousand and thirty two of her students in the 2007/2008 academic session for poor academic performances. (Unilag Campus News Bulletin; ISSN: 0891-5559; volume number: XV11. Number 15.).
A critical view of the cases of these withdrawals and expulsions does not require a brainy to appreciate the fact that only a few unlucky ones were axed by the school management, while the majority who knew how to play their jokers vis-à-vis examination malpractices, sorting, bribery, and intimidations through cultism would eventually sail through the system unscathed. It is this category of graduates that constitutes the bulk of the poorly baked and the intellectually inept, and in turn becomes a menace or threat to the societies through series of unprofessional conducts, the likes of which they benefitted from. The complaint by the various employers of labour about the incompetency of the present day Nigeria graduates can also be conveniently traced back to the rot in the secondary education sector. This is agreeable as a building cannot be constructed on a faulty foundation.
Therefore, concerted and conscientious efforts towards immediate repositioning and total sanitization of the system must be embarked upon by all stakeholders. The government, school administrators – both public and private, teachers, parents, and the students must all realize their crucial parts of the equations in tackling the rots which have been deeply entrenched in our education sector at the secondary level so as to restore it back to its former glorious reigns of the sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties when a secondary school leaver exemplifies a well-grounded and all-round education.
The government on its part as the financier needs to make appropriate budgetary provision for the funding of education. This can be achieved by the allocation of the minimum twenty-six percent of the annual budget for the funding of education at all levels as approved by the Universal Educational and Socio-Cultural Organization. This will ensure that all the teaching facilities in our secondary schools such as libraries, laboratories, and classrooms are upgraded and equipped with modern day facilities for effective teaching and learning. Secondly, is the employment of competent and qualified teachers and proper remunerations through the prompt payment of salary. The government must ensure that the teachers – students relationship is geared towards the positive direction as it is no gainsaying that the teachers maintain the closest link with the students. The onerous responsibility of the general overseeing and quality control also lies with the government.
The government must checkmate the proliferation of private secondary schools and ensure that only schools that meet the basic minimum requirements of schools befitting of the twenty-first century Nigeria are granted operational licenses. In the same vein, government monitoring team must constantly engage in unsolicited visits to both the public and private secondary schools to scrutinize their activities and modus operandi, and sanctions meted out to any defaulting schools as deterrents.
On the roll call of stakeholders with pivotal roles are the school administrators consisting of the principals and the vice-principals. They have the task of ensuring the day to day compliance of the teaching staff to the stipulated rules and regulations guiding their profession. And as such, handling of appropriate sanctions and queries to erring teachers or other staff members, and conversely recognizes and appreciates productivities and excellence. The bulk also stops at the doorsteps of the administrators to organize periodic seminars to sensitize the teachers about the nobility of their profession and the expectations of devotions and commitments to duties which the parents, government, and societies at large had rested on their shoulders. The students should also not be relegated to the back seat in this type of sensitization as it concerns them. Periodic career talk should be organized at the behest of the guidance and counseling units of the secondary schools, with the necessary supports of the school management.
This will enable individual student to realize his or her potential at the junior secondary classes to make an informed decision regarding the choice of the sciences, commercial, social sciences or arts class at the senior secondary level, while the senior secondary students will be better positioned to choose appropriate career paths at the higher institutions level. This will drastically reduce the sad tales of withdrawal due to poor academic performances as each undergraduate is now pursuing what he or she has a natural passion and strength for. Also, a well-orientated student about the importance of education will shun all acts or conducts which are capable of jeopardizing his future and face squarely his primary purpose which is academic pursuits and excellence.
The teachers on their own part must maintain a high degree of professionalisms, and as well set practical examples of punctuality, consistencies, dedications, and commitments to duties for the students to emulate at all times. The teachers should realize their enormous influences on the students being the closest to them. As a result, any of their actions or inactions at all times sends a signal to the students, the impact of which may benefit or harms the societies at large in the long run.
Important key figures in the repositioning crusade of our secondary education sector are the parents. This category of stakeholders must strive to strike the much-needed balance between the provision for the needs of the students and an explicit interest and participation in the academic well-being of their wards. The parents must assist both the government and all the other stakeholders in the education industry in their efforts to awaken the reading culture which has been long dead among the students. This can be achieved by each individual parent enforcing it on their wards at home.
However, the parents must endeavor to play their own role by providing the books, textbooks, and other materials for effective reading, and as well provide enabling environments for better understandings and assimilations. This will reduce the over-dependency of the students on the menace of the so-called ‘’miracle or special’’ centers for successes in their final examinations, culminating into the possession of certificates which they can hardly defend.
Lastly, are the students themselves. This class is the central component of the whole issue. The successes or failures of all the stakeholders highlighted above rest heavily on the shoulders of the students. However, the students must reorient themselves to grasp firmly and convince themselves of the importance of education. They should realize that they are the major beneficiaries of whatever educational height they attain.
Consequently, the students should shun all acts of truancies, hooliganism, cultism, examination malpractices, and all other behaviors inimical to their lofty ambitions, and conversely imbibe the spirits of hard work, punctuality, discipline and devotion to duties, and all other positive virtues which are the necessary ingredients for success.
Now is the time for all the stakeholders in the education business, and most importantly secondary school tier to set in motion all the necessary pieces of machinery in executing their individual roles. We cannot afford a moment delay any longer as the whole world eagerly awaits a paradigm shift from the present comatose condition of our secondary school sector to its glorious reign of the past; the golden era that signified a meaningful and purposeful education.
- Unilag Campus News Bulletin; ISSN: 0891-5559; volume number: XV11. Number 15.