In the last 20 years, the Nigerian educational standard has gone to seed. This degradation has generated a lot of discussions among stakeholders, but none seem to have answered the nagging question — how did this happen? Nigerian students increasingly look to foreign countries for educational exposure and development, indicating the country’s pitiful state.
Overseas, these students compete favourably with their counterparts, in some cases surpassing them. But back home, they don’t fare well, especially in international examinations, which makes Nigeria a byword for academic failure and backwardness.
Are there reasons adduced for the problems of education in Nigeria? Are there feasible solutions? If so, what are they? This guide attempts to answer such questions.
The educational system can never be a success story in a country that has the bulk of its population, particularly the poor, lacking basic human needs. There’s more to this statement than meets the eye, considering Nigeria’s socio-economic milieu. So, what are the educational problems in Nigeria? Let’s consider the following underlying factors.
The scourge of corruption in Nigeria is one of the most daunting, formidable problems facing education in Nigeria. It has metastasised into a multi-faceted malady that cuts across all academic levels, particularly the public tertiary institutions. It’s estimated that about 66% of all funds allocated to education in Nigeria are misappropriated.
The corruption of educational resources is largely perpetrated by government officials (politicians and civil servants), who are in the rightful position to provide adequate and quality education to pupils and students. School administrators are not exempted. Cases of bribery, extortion and racketeering are common.
Lecturers and professors abuse their positions by awarding high grades to students who pay for it, while their hard-working counterparts suffer. Sex for good grades isn’t unheard of as well. Students from affluent backgrounds need not put in the effort to pass their tests and examinations. And those without deep pockets, trade in kind. Academic excellence is hardly achievable in such an environment.
When a nation is gripped by extreme poverty and unemployment, it isn’t unrealistic to expect people to resort to illegal means to earn a living. With the majority of Nigerian secondary and tertiary institution educators being underpaid, one can be forgiven for expecting that some of them will go the extra mile to earn more money. Unfortunately, the authorities and legislators are unperturbed by such issues, as they are also perpetrators.
Irresponsibility and Indiscipline
If the above-listed problems don’t exist, academic institutions, especially universities would be a safe haven. Unfortunately, these institutions have become havens for lawless youths. Cases of student unrest, exam malpractice, molestation, extortion, and harassment, among others, are not only rampant but acceptable.
The problem is exacerbated by some inept and corrupt university administrators, who often tolerate such offences as long as they don’t disrupt their livelihood. Hence, the system is largely a lawless, unsafe place, where all members engage in all manner of shenanigans. There are hardly any enforced rules, regulations or boundaries.
Most public institutions in Nigeria are poorly equipped. Lecture halls are poorly furnished. Many don’t have enough desks and chairs, let alone electricity and internet connection. Students and teachers suffer from the lack of air-conditioning, sanitation and heating. Classrooms in remote areas are typically open structures that let in excessive sunlight.
A handful of these institutions have state-of-the-art libraries, laboratories, and sports facilities, among others. Others struggle to keep their already dilapidated structures in good condition. As such, there is restricted use.
It isn’t hard to find out why Nigerian students fail in examinations. It’s either the curriculum is outdated or it hasn’t been developed to meet the needs of contemporary education. In recent times, some have accused tertiary institutions of being irrelevant to the present-day economy. They’re unable to produce quality graduates, owing to the outdated curriculum and teaching methods.
Many schools are beginning to adopt British curricula, which has led to improved student performance. Others, however, still struggle to catch up, particularly those whose lecturers from the previous generation either ignore the need to update their courses or fail to impart the necessary knowledge to their students.
The above-listed problems are interlinked. Hence, the answers must also address and resolve these root causes. Let’s review the following solutions to the problems of education in Nigeria.
The Education Needs a New Vision
In Nigeria, the term “education” is bandied around frequently, but little progress is made in this regard. The various education policies and plans that are constantly introduced are half-baked. They’re often designed by people who lack the requisite knowledge and experience and thus, lack clear and long-term visions, which are the bedrock of success in any endeavour.
For many years, the sector has been in a quagmire, owing to conflicting ideologies and interests. A new vision is required to guide various stakeholders and ensure that all efforts are aligned and directed towards a common goal.
Nigerian education needs more funds. Although the annual budget for education has risen significantly over the years, it still falls short of international standards. This is largely due to poor budgetary allocation and mismanagement.
A good start would be to increase the annual budget allocation to the sector to at least 5% of the GDP. Academic staff and other stakeholders should be made to feel valued. The problem of poorly remunerated educators and lecturers should be a thing of the past. Subsidized tuition should be introduced for students from low-income households.
Quality and Updated Curricula
Specific reforms should be in place. For instance, the government can increase the minimum entry age into secondary school. This should align with world best practices. Other practices include:
- Introducing rigorous age-appropriate examinations to determine the institutions best suited to students.
- Updating the curriculum periodically to meet the students’ and economy’s changing needs.
- Benchmarking educational quality against international standards.
- Introducing remedial classes, such as personal statements writing services, to improve students’ performance, particularly those with low test scores. A list of these providers can be found in The Jerusalem Post.
Enforcing Laws to Combat Corruption and Other Unhealthy Practices
All stakeholders should be held accountable for their actions. They should be prosecuted if found guilty of corruption and other related offences. They should also be held liable if the system they have developed is detrimental to educational development.
The educational system in Nigeria is in dire need of a makeover. The country is capable of providing first-class education, but that will only be feasible when there’s collaboration, honesty, integrity, and willingness to do things differently.