When the issue of Nigeria educational system is raised, the first set of thoughts that come to mind are: decline in standard, deterioration of facilities, examination malpractices, mass promotion syndrome and the like before anything else. This calls for an in-depth study analysis aimed at tutoring each and every stakeholder in the education system on how their actions and inactions have individually and collectively contributed to the collapsing state of education in Nigeria. In any case, knowledge and skill acquisition with education cannot be overemphasized. According to the world bank (1999:25), “successful development entails more than investing in physical capital, or closing the gap in capital. It also entails acquiring and using knowledge as well as closing the gaps in knowledge.” The importance of education to humans cannot be overemphasized, globally, education is considered as a human right that should be accorded to all humans, in fact it was the reason why a lot of international human right bodies consider education as a fundamental human right. Thus, to successfully confront the challenges of development, a developing country must undertake three major tasks:
• Acquire and adapt global knowledge and create knowledge locally.
• Invest in human capital to increase the ability to absorb and use knowledge; and
• Invest in technologies to facilitate both acquisition and the absorption of knowledge,
Similarly, Fafunwa (1979:26) defines education as .
the aggregate of all the processes by which a child or adult develops the abilities, attitudes and other forms of behaviour which are of positive value to the society in which he lives, that is to say, it is a process of disseminating knowledge either to ensure social control or to guarantee rational direction of the society or both.
Going by these explanation as to what education is, in relation to the state of education and its process in the country today as well as the attitude of its providers – government at all levels and private investors; one with interest will be compelled to ask such questions as what has actually gone wrong considering the enormity of its effect on the output from the system in the area of productivity and the degree of acceptance in the labour market and educational institutions, especially outside the country. Responsive however, will be its militating factors stemming from the incidence of examination malpractice – poor facilities – indiscriminate mass promotion syndrome in schools. The causes of these could be traced to:
1) Government insensitivity to education needs
2) Government and private institutions open encouragement of low productivity and
3) The lack of the spirit of hard-work among growing number of students. Attempts will be made in this paper to examine the aforementioned problems and mitigations suggested.
PROBLEMS OF EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
Responsibility and control: the problem of educational development in Nigeria is that of responsibility and control, the conflict between the federal, the state and the local governments in the management of education at various levels is one of the prominent problems od education development in Nigeria. Take for example, the control of primary education is neither fully in the hand of federal government. This is a great barrier for effective educational development at basic level.
In Nigeria today, one should not be talking of unavailable teachers but instability. The unstable condition of teaching staff in Nigerian primary and secondary schools has drastically crippled the system. The question is why instability? The answer is that, the condition of service does not favour them to stay in the profession as such looking always for alternative.
Politicization of education is another problem of education in Nigerian schools today, which has seriously affected the development of education. Today many educational institutions are opened and run in many states on political ground or other flimsy reasons. In Nigerian schools today, admission in universities, colleges, polytechnic, monotechnic, secondary and primary schools are sometimes guided by politicians and not academic performance. Parents today use their political offices or influences for the education of their children. A sensitive issue that crippled the development of education is the manner and the reason why the politicians influence the recruitment exercise of teachers. Many people today are after securing jobs for their children just to have meal ticket not bothering whether their wards qualified or not. This has contributed to recruitment of many unqualified teachers in our schools.
Indiscipline: another critical area that hinders development of education today is indiscipline; this is manifested in examination malpractices, secret cult menace, corruption etc. Crises in our schools today has led to “brain-drain”, students of today are no longer interested in academic excellence, but when would I pass out from the school. Poor parenting/guidance is another cause, many parents lack care, protection and guidance, as such, no adequate provision of basic needs for their children to keep up him or her to meet the challenges of life, in accordance with the laws of the land. Many parents have today brought innovations that are not encouraging, but paving ways to examination malpractices in order to brighten the chances of their wards in qualifying examinations to higher institutions. My investigation revealed that some examination Centres exist in this nation where parents are paying money for qualifying their wards to pass SSCE – WAEC/NECO/JAMB. The above problems mentioned are just a few out of hundred problems of educational development in this country.
Poor preparation and malpractices: experts in the education sector have been able o identify examination malpractices with poor preparation of students for an examination, and lack of self-confidence. In view of the rising costs of education (school fees, enrolment fees, cost of books and other materials), students and even their parents will not ordinarily want to be held back by any form of deficit or failure in any of the required subjects hence will go to any length to ensure success. In some cases, some teachers at the secondary school level are involved by way of encouraging students to contribute money (cooperation fees) in order to secure the needed assistance during such examinations because they, the teachers, are left with no other alternative considering the fact that they are aware of the inadequate preparation of their students as well as the lack of facilities to get them properly prepared before examination.
Exploitation and educational standard: a close assessment of activities in schools have revealed that students are made to suffer undue amount of exploitation by schools’ heads at both private and public schools in the name of enrollment fees and assurance of success in their examinations, and this they do in collaboration with the ministry officials who are supposed to inspect and monitor activities in schools to ensure standard compliance. Despite the fact that most of the schools lack basic learning facilities and a complete set of teachers, in some cases, a school with the services of an English language teacher will lack that of a mathematics teacher. This is the more reason why one may not have the guts to query the mass promotion syndrome being practiced in schools because the system itself is not balanced. In like manner, students are being surcharged in a number of ways in tertiary institutions either in the name of dues that are not accounted for, force purchase of reading and other learning materials at exorbitant rates or on services of which staff are being paid for as assigned responsibility and official provision made by the respective institution. All these lead to lowering of the academic ability of students.
Poverty and fall in standard: acquisition of education knowledge is supposed to help us fight against poverty, ignorance and disease. The process of acquiring this well desired knowledge has gradually turned money spinning venture for many of those in dire need of the knowledge and skills. It is now a source of exploitation from the service seekers with little or no consideration for quality of service rendered and facilities on ground, and made an offer for the highest bidder. This trend cuts across all levels of education, from nursery school to tertiary institutions.
Admission and being in school today is merely an ability to pay for what is demanded in monetary terms by school operators and not on what could be offered academically. And this in essence widens the scope of poverty prevalence as well as the gap between the rich and the poor which education designed to bridge. Little wonder why graduates from many of the institutions exhibits ignorance towards societal realities and lack of creativity, due to the inadequacies associated with the learning and training process which is also observed to be partly because many of those that offer this service do so with greed.
PROSPECTS OF EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
The need for research development: everyone who cherishes genuine growth and sustainable development – government, private and corporate organization, non-governmental organization and individuals should as a matter of due responsibility encourage and finance research programmes, inventions and mass production of invented products as a way of discouraging prospective students indulging in any form of academic irregularities, who may not have seen anything good or meaningful on the part of those who have been hardworking and creative, research and invention wise in terms of reward for their effort. Currently researched interest by the government at all levels and corporate organization is nothing to write home about.
Many who have distinguished themselves in this area of human endeavour got frustrated and discouraged due to lack of assistance and encouragement resulting in brain-drain to other parts of the world, where such innovations are well recognized and encouraged. Despite the amount of knowledge and experience claimed to have been acquired or possessed by some scholars occupying some prestigious and sensitive units as heads, they still try to thwart the effort of fellow scholars and that of upcoming ones as way of perpetuating mediocrity with low productivity and underdevelopment of the society as its resultant effect. Suffice to say that these sets of scholars have thrown modesty and excellence (they are supposed to hold on to jealously) to the wind.
The research sub-sector that is grossly neglected in Nigeria and played upon indiscriminately is the basis for the socio-economic, political, scientific and technological advancement of our most admired developed nations of the world today. Therefore, conscious efforts towards qualitative and durable educational system need to be put in place for posterity in Nigeria (its land, mineral resources etc.), and the number of its people, their level of skills, attitudes to work and desire for self-improvement (NEST 1992,8). Considering these observed