The Travails of Education in Nigeria: The Way Forward……Edited by Mesagan Ekundayo

From our previous discussion on the travails of education in Nigeria, we have been able to do justice to the challenges facing the system and the potential dangers such challenges pose to our future.

This week, the ways to remedy the situation becomes our focus of attention. Some of these include:

  1. Increase education funding– The Nigerian government needs to take the bull by the horn to ameliorate the suffering of the education sector by solving the funding puzzle, which has often threaten the system. Basic school teachers and the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities often down-tool to protest unavailability of funds. What government can do is to make primary education funding its main responsibility and budget appropriately for the sector. This will help to achieve the goal of basic education for all of the United Nations. However, for the tertiary institutions, the federal government could impose a ceiling of N20,000 tuition fee in every university to augment federal subventions to these institutions. Imagine having, on the average, 15,000 undergraduates in the 43 federal universities listed by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), this will amount to about N12.9 billion annually. Such will significantly help the government to offset the lecturers’ yearly academic earned allowances and make funds available to guarantee the stability of the sector while also exploring other avenues to attract research grants to these institutions. Moreover, the government should fast track the autonomy of these universities and make them financially self-sufficient. The private sector is always excited to partner with universities if their ideas are well presented. The universities should be encouraged to source funds through the various means at their disposal. Such include:
  2. Through international research grants,
  3. Setting up training and research centres,
  4. Establishing professional programmes,
  5. Partnering with the private sector, etc.

2. Tackle Corruption in the System– The Nigerian education sector is seriously ravaged with high-level corruption from lecturers and students. Students are the main culprits as they often look for easy means to pass thereby resorting to examination mal-practices or giving bribes in cash or in kind to lecturers who are ready for such. Again, the excessiveness of the administrators of the various basic schools and universities need to be curtailed. They should be held accountable whenever allocated funds are mismanaged. Therefore, to forestal mismanagement of funds in our education system, there should be proper training and re-training of the administrators themselves and adequate machinery must be put in place by the government to ensure that funds that are released for a particular purpose are effectively utilised solely for that purpose. This will not only help to remove corruption in the education sector but also helps to reduce infrastructure inadequacy in the sector since funds meant for the provision of facilities can now be well utilised. The federal government should be very firm in dealing with this menace and those found wanting to corruption should be adequately punished.

3. Re-design Curriculum to Promote Skills Acquisition– As at today, the Nigerian education system is very weak in developing cognate skills required in the corporate world. Simply put, the system has continued to worsen the gap existing between “the town and the gown”. The meaning is that what is often taught in Nigerian schools and universities is not what is required in the corporate world as they are out-dated. In fact, several employers believe that Nigerian graduates are unemployable, hence, they resort to employing their counterparts that are relocating from foreign countries or those that are trained abroad. This has further increased the impetus to study abroad. For instance, I have a close relation who made a first class degree in an engineering programme in a leading Nigerian Federal University but could not secure a good job in almost 3 years before he got a scholarship admission for a masters (MSC) programme abroad. Two weeks into his resumption, he was sent to the field to integrate practical into the theory being taught in school. He obtained the requisite field experience during his 2 years MSC programme and secured a lucrative job with a multinational firm before the duration of his course. It means that our educational curriculum should be made to accommodate 60% theory and 40% practical in line with the global best practice. Several of these students will not even be interested in the search for jobs but rather create jobs on the completion of their programmes. As it is today, apart from certificates obtained, there is no major difference between a BSc degree holder, an MSc degree holder, and a PhD degree holder. Put up a job advert today and you will be shocked by the varieties of resumes and CVs that will be submitted. I listened to all the presidential aspirants in the just concluded 2019 presidential election but none of them has specific blue-print for improving education in Nigeria. The government needs to address this situation to curb the rising unemployment rate in the country.

While this list may not be exhaustive, I have tried to point out critical challenges facing the education sector in Nigeria. I have also tried to discuss the potential dangers for the future of this country and lastly, I have been able to identify, in key terms, what can be done to salvage the situation. The task of nation-building rests with every one of us and we must strive to contribute our quota by “brightening the little corners where we are”. To this end, I will encourage contributions from our readers on this blog on how we can further improve things going forward. Thanks as you read and share.