The Nigerian educational system operates a curriculum, like in other parts of the world, which serves as a compass with which the academic future of Nigerian students, across all levels, are directed.
At the mention of Nigeria, what comes to mind? The ‘Giant of Africa’, known for her rich history, diverse culture, human and natural resources, one of the largest exporters of crude oil, home to the richest man on the continent of Africa, and more. As a Nigerian, you would be proud of what the true Nigeria is.
Born in 1960 and named by Flora Shaw, wife of Lord Lugard, the governor of both the Northern and Southern Protectorates, Nigeria was the toast of foreigners and the envy of sister-states until the cold hands of war caressed her smooth skin. Alas, this once great country was torn apart and all that seemed sweet turned sour.
Many sectors were left to rot after the civil war between 1967 and 1970. More importantly, the education sector which produced many of the best brains that have walked the earth. What then is the fate of the Nigerian educational system?
The Nigerian Educational System Today
Welcome to the twenty-first century; the jet age. The Nigerian 6-3-3-4 educational system has remained the modus operandi for several years; a move which is not bad in itself. But worse is the fact that the country still operates an outdated curriculum when other countries have moved up to greater things.
Perhaps a layman would not understand when it is mentioned that the Nigerian academic curriculum is outdated. This implies that the lessons and approaches of yesteryears are still what today’s students are exposed to, with little or no difference at all. The content made available for Nigerian students to consume were what their parents and perhaps grandparents used and dumped.
This drawback, noted by some Nigerians, paved the way for the establishment of private academic institutions in various places across the country; most adopting the British curriculum which is a certified way of learning and moulding students who in turn constitute a sane society.
Many countries have equally reviewed their curricula, making teaching a lot more current and practical; giving way for such countries to produce highly innovative and creative graduates who are able to solve the problems of their society.
But NO! In this part of the world, there only exist persons who are interested in just making money from the sale of JAMB and NECO forms. In the end, only a meagre goes into the coffer of these government-owned schools. There are no single plans to review the curriculum and raise the standard of learning in these schools. Or haven’t you heard that animals swallow money in Nigeria? You neva see anything!
Like other sectors, certain government policies have stunted the growth of the Nigerian educational sector such that the products from the various academic institutions are believable. The inability of the government to critically assess the performances of students and correct anomalies where necessary has given rise to the continued failure of the system.
The mere fact that Nigerian schools are lowly ranked, with half-baked, less innovative students, is a bitter pill to swallow. This ordinarily, should be a call for concern to all and sundry.
The truth lies in the fact that Nigerian students are not prepared for what the future has to offer. The system is so porous that there have been testimonies of lecturers in Nigerian universities who teach students what they (lecturers) have no practical knowledge of. They just read materials, go to classes, dictate the notes and leave the classes.
Now, the students are theoretically equipped but not practically equipped. The students’ cognitive growth is thereby suppressed, making it difficult for the leaders of tomorrow to think outside of the box. Furthermore, this is why many Nigerian students fail to compete with their counterparts from other parts of the world.
Year in, year out, we hear of Nigerian students who are commanding respect academically in foreign universities. This is because, aside these Nigerian students being intellectual, they found themselves in societies that work, and institutions with the proper setup, suitable for learning.
These days, however, we hear how Nigerian youths find it difficult to secure employment in certain organisations. These organisations, being aware of this sad development, retrain prospective employees in order to help them fit into the system.
According to Professor Patrick Yalokwu, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Crawford University, Nigerian Universities need to produce graduates that can produce jobs, stressing that the curriculum is outdated. He said, “Many of the curricula were developed 20 years ago and they are kind of subject-oriented curricula. The kind of curriculum we need is more of a functional one which talks about entrepreneurship rather than white-collar job.”
He further stated that “We need a curriculum that would produce job creators and not seekers. I want to believe there is the need to be employed by the right organisations but we still need graduates who would come out and be employers of labour. Our curriculum should be more practical than theoretical.”
Similarly, the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of The Technical University, Ibadan, Oyo State, Professor Ayo Salami, called for a review of the curriculum, describing it as “obsolete.”
Apart from the obsolete curriculum in operation, there are other issues that negate against the ‘average‘ Nigerian student. Every year, federal universities go on strike amidst such other issues as poor funding of schools, understaffing of schools, unconducive learning environments, sexual harassment, extortion and a lot of other ills.
In the face of all these, there is no will from members of the political class to address this cankerworm that is slowly eating up the good of Nigeria’s educational system.
If not quickly dealt with, this systemic error would amount to the inability of Nigerian parents, especially those at the lower class, to give their children ‘the best legacy’. Even if they are able to afford an education for their children, it would only amount to poor education, following the current standard employed by the who-is-who of the Nigerian educational system.
The Nigerian educational system needs revalidation and standardisation in the face of the changing global tide. We need to study how other developed economies of the world such as the United States, Britain, China and others, pulled through. If possible ask questions because a man who asks questions never misses his way. By mirroring developed countries and how they did the ‘magic’, we would better know where we are as a nation and where we are headed.
A nation is a product of the decisions made for herself. Therefore, an educational system with a quality curriculum is the foundation upon which a country can thrive.
Let’s do the needful and set Nigeria on the paths of greatness, again.