NIGERIA’S PUBLIC EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM-A Relic From The Past?

Posted: October 6, 2011 in Uncategorized
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      This prelude was a true-life account.
      I looked at my watch and found out I had spent ten minutes listening and watching. I was very shocked to find out the young man speaking could hardly make a simple statement without any grammatical error. What could this young man be teaching? To worsen matters,he yelled abusively at the top of his lungs at the five-to-seven-year olds in the small room,one of the classrooms of the Community School situated about five minutes walk from my apartment.
      I stopped him as he was about landing the ugly-looking whip on the poor shoulder of a child in tattered clothing. ‘Why would you beat that poor child?’ I queried. “He’s not reading!” He bellowed. He probably had good intentions but that act wouldn’t have made him right. I went ahead to tell him how counter-productive beating the child would be;how that singular action had the potential to forever jeopardize that child’s enthusiasm to learning.
      The young man was a 20-year old student of Education in one of the satellite campuses of our State Polythecnics. He looked unkempt and obviously did very little to conceal his utter lack of understanding in what he was doing. He then told me how he comes around to ‘teach’ those kids in exchange for N2000 per week! That sum would sustain him through his own ‘studies’ too.
      In a moment,my thoughts cascaded through the whole episode-a hungry young man,with sub-standard education in Education, and no solid training on how to teach young children,’teaching’ hungry-looking kids under very hostile learning conditions. What was I to expect? It took me back to my own childhood,having attended a public school,remembering how we were given assignments in Moral Instructions(let those in their 30s reminisce please!),and asked to mould objects using papier-mache to be submitted next day in school. We were taught poems and were expected to recite several of them. And we could. Multiplication tables from 1 to 12 was common knowledge for Primary 4 and 5. All these learning took place in tidy,well-ventilated classrooms in Public Primary Schools. I can still very faintly recall an old cupboard in our class in which was kept all our exercise books-2A for English,2B for Arithmetic,2H for Writing(please pardon me if I mixed them up) freely given to us!
      By contrast,what obtains nowadays chokes the right-thinking mind with nothing less than fear and gloom for the future. Several factors to consider evoke pity for children attending our public schools.
     The Infrastructure in most of our public schools are nothing but glorified sheds which would come across as great injustice if used to house domestic animals in advanced societies.Typical classrooms are sparsely roofed and where any is seen,you can only pray it does not rain as the entire classroom and its occupants will likely get drenched. The classrooms are usually over-crowded with the number of pupils more than doubling the number of available chairs. Little wonder the difficulties encountered getting the pupils to concentrate besides the immediately obvious health hazards from over-crowding and poor ventilation. Many of the presentable public schools exist as such today from the charitable projects of NGOs and corporate organizations,the community service of religious organizations and from well-meaning individuals.
      One has little need wondering for too long on the quality of education derived by our children. Poorly-trained teaching staff will produce no more than poor pupils. How would a shabbily-dressed teacher impress the core values of good appearance and cleanliness on the minds of very young children? What will a teacher who can’t prepare constructive teaching modules and speak in clear,simple English teach young children? It would appear superfluous expecting a computer-literate teacher,who should be the first portal of exposure to computer literacy and basic information technology for these children, concepts necessary for relevance in our competitive world. How pitiable to imagine the relevance of what those children are taught to our history(socio-economic, political and ethnic) and, by extension,our future as a nation.
      If a labourer is worthy of his wages, according to the bible and natural moral laws, the remunerations paid to teachers in our public schools make concentrating solely on the teaching profession almost impossible. The teachers are forced to take up other jobs in order to make ends meet.This is a critical pointer to the value attached to teaching as a profession at all levels.
      According to a press statement released by the National Coordinator of the ERC(Education Rights Campaign), the Federal Government allocated a meagre N35billion to Education, out of an Appropriation Bill of about N4.226trillion for the year 2011. Less than 1% ! A far cry from the standard recommendation of 26% by UNESCO and an utter disregard for the ruling of the ECOWAS Community Court which upholds that every Nigerian child has a right to free and compulsory education. How embarrassing it is to also note that our president sits as the chairman of ECOWAS!
      We need no soothsayer to tell what the above statistics portend. According to another ERC report,in 2009, there was 98% mass failure in the NECO/SSCE examinations and 74% mass failure in the 2010 May/June WAEC examinations. The global picture appears even more grim,as none of our universities fall within the first 5000 universities in the world and definitely none falls within the first 50 universities in Africa.
The trend will go one and will likely get worse unless pragmatic measures are taken to stem the tides.
      As a matter of urgency, we need to turn on the lights on our Public Educational System with emphasis on comparing the qualities of yesteryears with what obtains at present and,at least,equating the two or achieving a better quality.It is hightime the government shifted attention to the presumed lowest levels of education,wherein lay the hardest and most valuable blocks of foundation(establishing and nurturing the right attitudes and positive value systems), requisites to true national development and a secured future in the league of nations.

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Comments
  1. Dr Kay says:

    Great! Its highly inspiring, I’m proud of you. Basically, Government needs improve on the access to basic education by increasing the quality of education and promoting learning achievement with focus on teachers and learning materials, because having access to education and later to employment is a precondition for poverty reduction, political stability,peace and security in the country. Well-educated young people are a source of efficient & productive labour, a highly skilled & motivated workforce is essential for us
    to remain globally competitive.

  2. bussyogunse says:

    Brilliant Piece bro.Looking at the Western Countries,Nigeria’s educational system is way backwards. Lets believe it will get better sooner than we expect. More grease to your elbow sir.

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