Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values , beliefs and habits. While substandard as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary, is anything that is below the required grade, degree or specification. Therefore, education is said to be substandard when it is not up to the required specification of acquiring knowledge. Of all things in this world, education should always top our priority list and it should be second to none because, through it, we become exposed to new horizon of knowledge, but without it, we would be left drowning in the pool of ignorance. Education is very useful in many areas- economically, morally, politically among others. Why then do we neglect it? Why should education of all things be below its necessary standard? Why is it being relegated to the bottom of our priority list? This calls for attention.
Substandard educational system can be attributed to, first, the loss of respect for teachers and low remuneration rate. Professor Olu Akeusola stated in the Vanguard Newspaper publication of 8th October, 2016; that, teachers can only be what the society or government wants them to be. In those days, teachers were highly compensated, but now, we cannot maintain that. Moreover, teachers were second-in-command to the colonial masters because, they taught teachers to become interpreters. He also mentioned that the standard of education is not falling, but the quality, explained that what was instrumental to a very good foundation in the past was our being able to develop teachers’ education. According to him, if teachers’ education is developed, it will create a methodology of passing information to the younger generation, “unfortunately, we destroyed that solid foundation of the teachers’ education. If teachers are well paid and highly ranked, there would be keen on going to lecture rooms to teach students, help students achieve more of their aims, and they would also be happy thereby giving their very best to the students in areas of transmission of knowledge, compassion and relationship. Acclaiming to the fact that education is poorly funded in Nigeria, The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommends that 26% of the nation’s budget should be allocated to the educational sector. By doing this, the educational sector will have a good impact on the national development of the country. In the same vein, the analysis done by a leading media outlet “Daily Trust” in 2016, showed that the joint expenditure of the Federal and 33 state governments on education was 8.44% of their total budget. Also, there is a huge gap in funding of education at the different levels of government which is not supposed to be so. How are these teachers expected to rear and provide well-baked students that would develop the economy when their efforts are not appreciated neither is their remuneration rate remarkable.
Furthermore, inadequate educational curricula and poor educational planning have contributed to the increase in unemployment. The educational system as inherited from the colonial epoch was grammar oriented. Until recently, the school curricula emphasized the arts subjects. Again, the educational system is theoretically oriented. How would a student studying Agricultural science know how to plant or harvest crops when he or she has never been to the farm? For this reason, the system of education does not equip school leavers with those practical required for earning a living thereby making them fall in the category of the dependent population where the cannot yield any good result in terms of economic planning and productivity. Our universities have also deteriorated from half-baking to substandard. With the rising population, how do you expect us to have proficient, efficient and knowledgeable students working in offices where they can better the lots of this country or rather get employed when the lecturers are being forced to stay and contribute only 30% towards the students’ performance? If at the end, these students graduate from the university and get into key offices of the country- like the ministerial, presidential or senatorial offices; how are the expected to develop the economy with the know-how they do not posses? As at June 6, 2017, the unemployment rate as published by the Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has increased, rising from 13.9% in the last quarter of 2016 to 14.2% in 2017, rendering a total of 29million Nigerians jobless.
Most schools and institutions in Nigeria are in a very bad condition if not the worst because, states governments have been busy competing with one another to establish their own universities without bothering to adequately equip them with the necessary equipment. In most States today, the teaching environment is not conducive- the buildings are in bad shapes and most of them lack good teaching materials, practical or technical facilities. Lack of up-to-date practical facilities makes education to be rather theoretical and quantitative than qualitative. More often, this is what causes BRAIN DRAIN as those with ingenious minds are not provided the ground to boost their abilities which makes them to migrate to other countries in order to seek for greener pasture and a more conducive learning environment. When things like these happen, the population decreases so also does the labor force- working population who contribute to the development of the economy through tax payment, but when this set of people are not available, tax payment reduces and there would be an adverse effect on the economic growth of the country.
Nigeria is a country blessed with people with ingenious minds, entrepreneurial and vocational skills and abundance of natural resources, but why have we not been utilizing these abilities and resources? Mr. Bello Abdullahi, in his book, MY THOUGHTS ON NIGERIA said, instead of long term investments in productive sectors of the economy, Nigerians opted for the easiest and quickest way of “making it” through contracts manipulations, foreign exchange deals, drug trafficking among others. While the few Nigerians with genuine desire to contribute positively to the political and economical sectors of the country are frustrated one way or the other. Experts have said it time without number that “Education is the bedrock of industrialization just as industrialization is the path to the promised land of any country”. Unfortunately, this same education does not top the priority list of the Federal government in Nigeria. Nigeria has the potential of becoming one of the greatest nations in the world- the human and material resources are there in abundance to achieve this. What we need if the fighting spirit of the Japanese, the determination of the Germans, the I can attitude of the Chinese and the nationalism of the Americans. This sounds like a Sisyphean task right? But we can do it and change things for the better in our country.
Education should not only be concerned with books but also with morals and techniques, students should be also be encouraged to develop their inbuilt talents- there are lots of entrepreneurs, C.E.Os (Chief executive officers), business owners but to mention a few in our schools, but they have only been there like white elephants because, the room to express themselves is missing. When our students are taught to create things with their hands- like soap, shoes, bags, gadgets, snacks and lots more we won’t have any cause to import these things from other countries. How is this nation expected to grow economically when all we do is to solely rely on other countries to provide what we need? We do not need to depend on other countries when we can make them depend on us. For instance, modern India has had a strong focus on science and technology, realizing that it is a key element of economic growth. India is among the top most countries in the world in the field of scientific research, positioned as one of the top five nations in the field of space exploration. India is in possession of science and technology, fine! Nigeria has crude oil, coal, iron ore, timber, cocoa, cassava and many more in abundance. What India has is nothing compared to that of Nigeria but since we have failed to utilize our resources adequately, our GDP (gross domestic product) cannot be compared to that of India. As at the fourth quarter of the year 2016, Nigeria’s GDP was 405.1 billion USD while that of India was 2.264 trillion USD. What a difference! We can actually be where India is today if not above if the right measures are taken.
To get out of the woods, first, the government at all levels needs to commit to the delivering of a competitive standard of education across the country and with other countries; also, the right investments need to be done in order to get desirable results. Adequate funding with Adequate funding with good management will provide high-quality education. Subsequently, funds for renovation of schools and institutions, acquiring quality training facilities, research grants, decent teachers’ salaries and welfare, etc., are the things that’s need to increased, released and spent appropriately. Additionally, proper training of teachers with current and up-to-date materials and technology will improve the conditions of education in Nigeria. Necessary vetting measures should also be taken to make sure that only qualified teachers are employed. Above all, more practice than theory should be the system of our schools.
In conclusion, just as we cannot have the rainbow without the rain, there also cannot be rapid economic growth without a good and effective standard of education. Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. If we truly want to stand the ground that we are the “Giant of Africa”, we must be ready to make our economy more productive by restructuring our educational system.