Education is one of the major keys to the development of any country. The deterioration in the quality and standard of education in Nigeria is disturbing. UNICEF stated that one in every five of the world’s out- of-school children is in Nigeria. Approximately 10.5 million children aged 5-14 years in Nigeria are not in school, and only 35.6% of 3-5-year olds receive early childhood education. Education is an important driver for growth and development as it is the foundation for human empowerment, inclusive prosperity, and ongoing development. However, I will highlight the leading causes for poor state of education in our country and possible ways out.
Nigeria runs a federation system so the Nigerian education system is overseen by Ministry of Education. The federal government controls public schools while state schools are controlled at the regional levels.
The education system at the federal level is managed by the Ministry of Education. This includes management of federal universities and schools. State public schools and tertiary institutions are controlled regionally by the Ministry at the state level. This implies that the standard of education across states differs depending on the quality each state can deliver. Public education problems in Nigeria are so many but I’ll try to highlight the major ones.
One thing that has crippled most sectors in Nigeria today is poor governance. The educational sector is not an exception. The government’s attitude towards crucial problems of education, especially its quality, is lackadaisical. This situation can be noticed on every level of government.
Education in Nigeria is poorly funded. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommends that 26% of the nation’s budget should be allocated to the educational sector. This way, the educational sector will have a good impact on the national development. According to the analysis done by a leading media outlet “Daily Trust” in 2016, the joint expenditure of the federal and 33 state governments on education is 8.44% of their total budget for the year. Also, there is a huge gap in the funding of education at the different levels of the government.
Corruption in Nigeria affects every sector of the government including the educational sector. This occurs in the education system and a high rate at every level. Taking bribes is practised not only by politicians but also by people in the education system, including school authorities. Funds meant for education infrastructure, salary payments, maintenance, and running of schools and institutions are being diverted and mismanaged. Also, the collection of bribes by lecturers and teachers is not a secret anymore. According to the report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), corruption is endemic in Nigerian universities today and there is a lack of political will to deal with it.
Most schools and institutions in Nigeria are in very bad conditions. In most states, the teaching environment is not conducive. The buildings are in bad shape and most of them lack teaching materials. Schools lack practical or technical facilities. Lack of standard and up-to-date practical facilities makes education to be rather theoretical and quantitative than qualitative.
Poor teachers’ welfare is another major problem affecting the level of education in Nigeria. It is one of the consequences of both poor funding and corruption. Poor salary scale and bonuses, as well as irregular payment of salaries, are the problems that teachers face in Nigeria. It is a sad practice that teachers have to embark on industrial actions before they get their salaries.
Lack of dedication of teachers is a direct effect of the poor welfare of the teachers. Teaching is not seen as a lucrative job. So, not many people want to become teachers or to stay in the profession. The ones that are teachers now, in most cases, are not dedicated; some even hate their jobs. Most of the teachers in Nigeria have other businesses to support them and their families. This way, they spend more time tending their other businesses than they do in class. Some even do their businesses in schools like selling of clothes and other things.
It is not a secret that there are teachers in Nigerian schools, especially at the primary education level that are either unqualified or underqualified. There have been cases when teachers can ‘t speak English properly. Also, most teachers lack the proper training in order to pass across quality education.
There is an alarming rate of exam malpractice in Nigeria. They are practised both by student and teachers. The inability of the government to curb this has caused a serious decline in the quality of the Nigerian education system products (level of knowledge).
The first step forward towards reviving Nigeria’s education the hands of the government. Necessary steps need to be taken in order to restructure and save the sector. 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 the desired results. Adequate funding with good management will provide high-quality education in Nigeria. Funds for renovation of schools and other institutions, acquiring quality training facilities, research grants, decent teachers’ salaries and welfare, etc. are the things that need to be increased, released and spent appropriately.
The level of corruption in education ministries and regulatory bodies needs to be taken seriously and tackled. The level of exam malpractices needs to be curbed by a joint effort of the government and examination regulatory bodies.
The teaching curriculum needs to be reviewed and updated. It needs to be more practical and research-based. Teachers’ salaries must be reviewed and improved. Fair wages will also motivate teachers to do their job on a high-quality level. Also, there should be regular payments of teachers’ salaries. This will attract qualified and dedicated teachers to public schools and will change the attitude of young people towards the teaching profession and motivate them to study to become teachers.
Proper training of teachers with up-up-date materials and technology will also improve the condition of education in Nigeria. Necessary vetting measures should be taken to make sure that only qualified teachers are employed. Admissions into tertiary institutions should be based solely on merit.
Oru is of the Mass Communication Department, Eastern Polytechnic, Port Harcourt.