By Maria Famakinwa
Education is one of the most important investments a country can make in its future. It provides the foundation for a stable and functioning country. No country can achieve sustainable economic development without substantial investment in human capital. Education raises people’s productivity and creativity. It promotes entrepreneurship and technological advances.
Nobody can argue the fact that education is the bedrock of national development. Any nation-state that is keen on and desirous of achieving sustainable economic growth and technological development should place much premium on solving the challenges of its educational system.
As important as education is in uplifting a country, is as if Nigeria’s education system needs better attention for future progression. The decline in the standard of Nigeria’s educational system should give any well meaning citizen sleepless nights. The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) recently revealed that its best three candidates in the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) were Ghanaians, the positions Nigerians occupied before.
The outstanding students, Master Cecil Tetteh Kumah (first) Master Godfred Aseda Obeng (second) and Miss Afua Manukure Ansah (third) were honoured during the examination body’s meeting where Ato Essuman, a Ghanaian professor, was also elected WAEC’s 20th Chairman. Some educationists who spoke with The Hope shared their thoughts on the falling Standard of education in the country.
A retired principal, Mr Lanrewaju Olawoyin, who blamed insecurity and other social vices in the country on the falling standard of education, noted that if education failed, others things would also crumble. He posited that for the standard of education to be revived, the National Policy on Education must be reviewed.
His words,”The educational sector in Nigeria needs to be restructured and all possibilities involved with taking remedial actions to raise the standard of education should be explored. A learning expedition should be sent to various parts of the world to understudy their working educational system for comparison and learning new methods and principles to solve the quagmire. We must borrow from other countries educational ideas to solve the lingering education challenges in the country,” he said.
A lecturer who did not want his name in print, lamented the impact of the falling education standard on the nation and students. The man who called on the Federal and State governments to do all they could to repositon the country’s education standard stressed the need for improved welfare package for teachers. He said, “Government should do all it can to motivate teachers and Lectures by paying their salaries as and when due. If you take a look at how strike is affecting educational standard in the country, you will understand better why the education standard continues to fall.
“If Nigeria must move forward educationally and be ready to compete favourably with other countries, Federal annual budget for education must increase. The educational system of the country is suffering from decades of underfunding. It is therefore necessary for the government to design a workable plan towards funding education. This will help to address lack of educational infrastructure, inadequate classrooms and teaching aids among others.”
Another lecturer who also craved anonymity appealed to the Federal Government to prioritize education at all levels, in order to have a quality and qualitative education in the country. According to her, incessant strikes dwindled academic performance of students. She said, “As learning is suspended for a long period, students’ reading abilities fall which also affect knowledge acquired due to lack of application and reinforcement.
“Recently, the Director of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Gong, disclosed that Nigerian University students had lost one academic year and it’s not recoverable due to the almost one-year long strike embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) which ended last year December. As if it was not enough, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU) also began industrial action two months ago. All these have negative impact on the education standard.”
To improve the education standard in the country, the lecturer said that the Federal and State governments should motivate lecturers to go for constant research. She added, “There is need for education conferences to be held regularly across the country among the stakeholders in the education sector, so as to deliberate and brainstorm, in order to find lasting and acceptable solutions to the falling standard of education in the country.”
A school teacher and parent, Mrs Folake Ajiboro, who explained that she was worried about the revelation by WAEC that none of Nigeria’s students emerged over-all best three, called on parents and relevant stakeholders to go back to the drawing board and return the country’s education to its lost glory. The woman who disclosed that it has never been this bad added that the revelation was a clarion call for the country to find permanent solutions to its educational challenges
She said,”All the stakeholders in the country’s educational sector must play their part at repositioning the country’s education. The government, parents and students have roles to play to revive the dying educational system. Parents must be ready to give their children best education by providing them with necessary textbooks to aid learning. Students on their own must see education as the best legacy they can acquire and give it all seriousness.
“Schools should be equipped and staffed by the government to compete with the global standard. There should also be regular review of schools’ curricular to adopt new age topics. Subjects that enhance innovativeness and creativity should be introduced across board. Schools, colleges and universities across the country should adopt curricular and syllabuses that are tested, effective and can compete favourably with international standard. The curricular and syllabus of particular concern is the primary school syllabus which children learn at their tender age.”
The teacher, who also called for re-orientation and re-education of teachers, students and parents on the need to shun examination malpractice for improved academic standard, observed that most students hardly read for excellence but instead depend on cheating during examinations. While calling on parents to discourage their wards against any form of examination malpractice she said, “Due to rising cost of education fees and other materials, students and even their parents go to any length to ensure that they are not held back by any failure or deficits in required subjects by indulging in examination malpractice which automatically discourages students from reading. We always pride ourselves as the giant of Africa and this must be seen in every thing we do, including education.
“Our leaders should understand that education is very critical and pivotal to the development of the country. Education should take its pride of place in Nigeria, as only skillful and knowledgeable people can drive our national development .” she said.