“… All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants” – John W. Gardener
In Nigeria, ugly issues on education (the process of teaching and learning) have recently kept popping up and are seriously blazing into the front-burner at both the state and national levels. This is not in the least comforting; especially now that the nations of the world have come to acknowledge in many ways that the life blood of a nation’s growth is solely dependent on the position of the intrinsic and instrumental role of education on their shores. Despite this global acknowledgement, education still suffers in Nigeria. And it is unfortunate that we, the citizens, are yet to find a prescription for the chronic disease which afflicts this sector. But just like a saviour, this article has come to salvage the ivory tower of the education system in our nation – Nigeria. Not with a pill, but with the truth. “…and the truth shall make you free”.
A definitive dissection of the aforementioned topic would be inevitable, so as to bring a clearer meaning and understanding of the issues to be discussed therein. A detailed look at the key term suffices.
THE WORD ‘EDUCATION’
This is one of the numerous terms that have become familiar that we rarely take the trouble to ask what we mean whenever it is mentioned. It is also among the privileged terms that bagged in so many definitions by many philosophers. However, the definition of Professor J. E Njoku would serve as a guide dog into the topic of discussion as regards Nigeria, our case study.
According to him, “Education is the making of the complete man in such a way that he is able to survive within his environment, which involves not only the acquisition of skills but also development of the intellect such that the individual becomes a problem solver.”
Going down the memory lane with a sense of euphoria, I could remember my teacher once told me that they are two types of education. These are:
- Informal education: For a layman’s understanding, this is an unorganized system of education and its typical example is basically that type of training a child gets from the parents while at home.
- Formal education: This is an organized system with schemes, curriculum, teachers, equipment and so many other things that make teaching and learning easy.
In line with the issues to be discussed, this piece of work shall therefore focus on the latter type of education – Formal education.
FORMAL EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
Here in Nigeria, one cannot categorically find a figurative expression to qualify the quality of her academic citadel. This is worrisome because the fortified fabrics that once held a vibrant, virile and functional system have been dented, torn apart and systematically destroyed.
In general, the system has lost focus, gone groggy and now serves as a ground for breeding academic provincialisms that are incapable of proffering solutions to the numerous problems which dare-devil the country.
THE NECESSARY CHANGE TO IMPROVE EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
With the recent state of the system, there are thousands of ‘one things’ that need serious changes. But if there was one change I could make, it would be to revise the obsolete and picturesque curriculum in the tertiary institutions and make it to include specialized vocational and entrepreneurship development courses. But what for?
“…All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.” – John W. Gardener.
When you take a critical look at the truth above, you will discover that in a new-fashioned generation, a curriculum that does not encourage students to acquire skills and that does not develop their entrepreneurship potentials is myopic and can never help the teeming problems of that nation.
Therefore, the reason behind the change I would make is to:
- Make sure that the students get instilled with the passion for creativity which would maximize their intellectual conformism and make them competent for the labour market.
- Create us a complete man and a problem solver who will use his entrepreneur sensibilities to enhance national growth and development.
- Develop and empower the citizens by enabling everyone “…to realize his full potential for well-being, fulfilment and accomplishment in happiness, joy, love and contentment…” – Olusegun Obasanjo.
- Give us an eagle eye to view things from a broad spectrum perspective, thereby solving the problems of wealth creation and employment generation by breeding a crop of healthy, knowledgeable, skilled and developed citizens.
This is also a sure strategy for making the enticing hands of violence and crime unattractive.
Because of the attention given to ‘paper qualification’ in our society today, which has turned many into ‘degree holders’ instead of ‘real graduates’, the idea of revising the curriculum to include specialized vocational and entrepreneurship development courses is not only designed to take care of the decadence which has come to characterize our education system; it is also designed to combat the problems that fraught our dear nation. Especially, that of the rising rate of unemployment. Nigerian students would benefit so much from this; the Nigerian education system provides an incomplete curriculum compared to what other nations offer, yet the incomplete curriculum is still not completed owing to strike by teachers at all educational levels and also due to half-baked teachers produced from same incomplete curriculum which keeps passing down to posterity.
Conclusively and in the words of an American magnate, investor, programmer, inventor and philanthropist, we are meant to know that: “Making sure all our students get a great education, find a career that’s fulfilling and rewarding, and have a chance to live out their dreams … wouldn’t just make us a more successful country – it would also make us a more fair and just one.” – Bill Gates.