The Nature of Schooling in Nigeria currently demands a thoughtful and intentional action. One of the philosophies and visions of the eminent Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987) that he earnestly contend for was: EDUCATION FOR ALL. He was able to put the then Western Region ahead its peers because of his solid foundation of education which laid not only for the Western Region, but also for the nation as a whole. He said, “For any nation to become great, or to take its place in the comity of nations, for any nation to make a significant impact, that nation must have its citizens well educated…” Education, as we all know is the bedrock of development in any society, and the wisest investment any well-intentioned government can make. Qualitative education has its impacts on all sectors, contributes to increasing life expectancy and assuring sustainable economic development. It provides the platform for social, economic and technological advancement of any country and people. In the contemporary world where nations strive to institutionalise a “knowledge economy”, any state that toys with the education of its people will be left behind to stagnate in a condition of underdevelopment exemplified in ignorance and disease. Such a state or nation becomes, among the community of nations, a subservient to others. And looking into the situation around us as regards the idea and the nature of schooling in our nation, the education seems to be at the bottom-line of our scale-of-preferences or pressing matters that actually demand an urgent response.
Oftentimes we have witnessed so many problematic issues and challenges especially in the area of education. And this cuts across local, state, and federal government in our nation, Nigeria. In Osun state for example, we have witnessed the incalculable damages that has been done to the education sector in Osun State by the implementation of policies with huge negative impact on infrastructure, quality of education, motivation of teachers which is almost complete reversal of the hitherto good fortunes and track record of Osun state in education at all levels. Anant Agarwal in his featured presentation on TedTalk in year 2013 titled: Why MOOCs still matter, he made a claim that there is need for us to re-imagine education; that in the last 1000years, the only sector of human activities that has not experience a change is EDUCATION! Aside from the Gutenberg revolution of over 500years ago which had enabled us to print textbooks, nothing much has changed. Education over time has suffered many setbacks from the hands of the policy maker and politician due to lack of proper focus and misplaced priorities. The high level of poverty in competence and organizational expertise is so alarming even among the so-called educational practitioners.
Mind you, with that being said, we also need to understand that, though government has a major role to play in the affair of education in a nation, they are not the only stakeholder in educational matters. Private organizations and institutions are also part of the process but must not left without adequate measure or close supervision on their activities; government agencies in educational matters must be in-charge to supervise their educational activities to ascertain its correlation and alignment with the national mission and expectation placed on education. But refers seems to be case especially in Nigeria, where many private institutions are left to operate education only with a purpose of economic gains.
The issue of education is a moral issue, because it largely determines the disposition of people towards the challenges of life, as well as their response to the evolution of their society—both in aspect of religion, politics, economics, and lifestyle.
The issue of education is a moral issue. But another problem that we have witnessed again in the area of education is the politicisation of Education; which seriously affected the development of education. Today many educational institutions are opened and run in many states on political ground or other flimsy reasons. In Nigerian schools today, admission in universities, colleges, polytechnics, monotechnics, secondary and primary schools are sometimes guided by politicians and not by academic performance. Parent today used their political offices or influences in order to get their children into school. Politicians influence the recruitment exercise of teachers; many people today are after securing job for their children just to have end-meet not bothering whether their wards qualified or not—and this has contributed to recruitment of many unqualified teachers in our schools. Another tiring area that also contributes to the derailing from the ideal-state of education today is indiscipline, which is quite manifested through examination malpractices, secret cult menace, corruption etc. Crises in our schools today have led to “brain-drain”, students of today are no longer interested in academic excellence but “when would I pass out from the school”. Poor parenting/Guidance is another cause; many parent lack caring, protection and guidance as such no adequate provision of basic needs for their children to upkeep them to meet the challenges of life, in accordance with the laws of the land. Many parents have today bring innovation that are not encouraging but paving ways to examination malpractices in order to brighten the chances of their wards in qualifying examination to higher institutions; isn’t it disappointing that we now have examination centers exist only for the purpose of malpractice? Education is meant to transform, and bring a revolutionary change in behaviour; but this has not been the experience of Nigeria education system due to the epileptic nature of the process, and the malady of systemic problem.
And for our educational system to be revived, we must make sure we improve the quality of tertiary education through investment in infrastructure and establishment of institutional mentoring links within Nigeria, and with other institutions globally; maintain, support and sustain appropriate infrastructure and equipment for education, dismantle monopoly in provision of educational infrastructure, its support and maintenance facilities; integrate the teaching of information and communication technologies, as well as the application of same technologies for both innovation in teaching techniques and learning; improve teacher quality, competencies and ratio, as well as strengthening the application of technology for teacher education, curriculum development and learning. That is my submission.