By Yaya Ademola
ACCORDING to Wikipedia, “Education is the process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value, morals, and habits”. Education goes beyond ability to read and write and earn degrees. It means inculcating moral values, positive thinking, attitude of giving back to the society and ethical values. It is the aggregate of these that will bring required changes in the society.
There is no gainsaying the fact that apart from securing the lives and property of the citizens, the foremost role of any serious government is the development of that society. In developing society however, citizens must be developed via qualitative education. When government gives free and qualitative education to its citizens, it is not doing them any favour. It is the knowledge acquired through education that will be used to developing the society, which is the ultimate goal of the government. It is the education that will prepare and make the citizens problems-solvers and architect of modernity of their society. Education is the base upon which everything is built –Technology, Medicine, Research, Military, Economy, etc. Once this foundation is faulty, everything built on it is endangered.
Here in Nigeria, we got the concept of our education wrong ab initio and we have continued with it even after 60 years of flag independence from the British Colonial Masters. While the ruling elite have demonstrated their capacity to review policies, especially of their predecessors, they have been blind to see any fundamental defect to review of the education system handed over by the colonialists. They have refused to see that the curriculum of our education is not tailored to be useful to our environment and that the certification process has not helped and will not help us till “thy Kingdom come.”
Real education is quality learning that will achieve acquisition of knowledge, value, skills and morals. It is an important tool that will bring personal growth, success and prosperity to an individual and the society. It will make people to gain knowledge, have critical thinking, empowerment and skills required to make our society a better place. Education is, therefore, not limited to schooling. It is a process and outcome of inviting truth and possibility, of encouraging and giving time to discovery. It is supposed to be what has been learnt in addition to what was thought in the classroom. It is the tool with which a society can move forward for the betterment of humanity.
Our first problem is retaining the language of our colonial masters – English – as a prerequisite for learning. This simply means that a very brilliant student who has distinctions in Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and all other subjects but fails English Language cannot progress to the University. Why should a Nigerian child in Nigeria be denied further education for lack of mastery of Queen Elizabeth’s language? This is awkward! The Dutch, Chinese, French, England, Indian, Portuguese, etc use their languages in teaching their children. Education of Germany should be primarily for development of Germany. Education of China should be for the development of China. Education of Nigeria should be primarily for the development of Nigeria.
The second fault is certification without being educated. How does one explain a graduate of Mechanical Engineering that cannot fix anything in a car but has to patronise a mechanic who didn’t go to any school? The fact of the matter is that that mechanic is educated in motor engine maintenance, at least, but the mechanical engineer is certificated, in only God-knows-what! What is the point of brandishing Bsc, Msc, etc without any capacity to profess the profession? Little wonder that development has eluded us. The little development seen around is mostly from the artisans who did not acquire formal education.
Another factor is the quality of the teachers. Teachers are said to be the soul of education; when the quality of the teachers drop, education will be in jeopardy. In majority of private primary and secondary schools, young but failed school certificate holders are made teachers while awaiting results of their reseat exams. In public schools, it is more horrible. Apart from the non availability of teachers, the remaining few are not dedicated to the job as there are no incentives from the government. In many states, public schools rely mostly on Youth Corp members, majority of whom education is questionable. In our society, teachers are looked down upon as nobody. If our education must align with our societal development goals, we must break from the Queen prescription and remodel our education to be in tandem with our needs.
In reality, Nigerians are very good and creative in everything and that is why they excel anywhere outside our shore. What is lacking, however, is correct tools to demonstrate our capacity in our land. Unfortunately, the ruling elite do not care a hoot as they lack political will to do the needful. And why should they, anyway? Despite our colleges of medicine and Teaching Hospitals with good doctors, the ruling elite will fly out for medical check-up anytime they have headache. They know that medicine is same. What makes difference are facilities and equipment which are lacking here, beginning with the basics – light and water.
Just three days ago, our own Mr. President left for United Kingdom for medical check-up. If they could get good healthcare services abroad, why would they bother to fix healthcare system for the poor? In all the State Government Houses and Aso Rock Villa, anytime electricity goes off, standby generators are put on. Why should they be concerned in fixing power supply when they don’t lack power? These and more are the problems bedevilling us as a country and these old guards cannot change. They are very comfortable with crude conversi on and accumulation of resources meant for development and giving peanuts to their impoverished followership to retaining power. Our destiny is in our hand. The poor people – young and old – are the majority. Their voting power can change the tide to swing to their side in having new leadership that will make life a better and worthy place for them. Otherwise, it is poverty and penury unlimited for them and happiness for the ruling elite who are responsible for their woe.