Tackling Nigeria’s falling standard of education

By Grace Kubai Yatai

Education is a fundamental right which every child must acquire in any decent society. It is important to the development of individuals and societies. Education which is of great value in our society can be seen as the art or science of transmitting culture, norms, traditions, values and ethics of a society from one generation to succeeding generation.

It is seen as catalyst to modern successes and productive future; it kills the disease of ignorance and superstition. Former Minister of Education, Prof. Babs Fafunwa, defines education as the aggregate of all the process by which a child or young adult develops the abilities, attitudes and other forms of behavior of positive value to the society in which he lives.

Highlighting Nigeria’s falling standard of education; Teachers Without Boarders in 2006, reported that the standard of education is how the products of schools can be measured in terms of outcome. This is in terms of skills, knowledge and right attitude acquired by graduates the country produces. When the standard is low, half-baked graduates are produced.
These graduates go into the market with less skill and often with dubious attitudes.
Although, it is generally believed that the standard of education is falling in Nigeria, a school of thought opines that the standard of education is not falling. It postulates three domains of education, namely, cognitive, psychomotor and affective. It then argues that if the standard of cognitive is seen to have fallen, how about that of psychomotor and affective? It says that any learner that excels in psychomotor or affective domain but is found wanting in cognitive cannot be said to have failed to acquire the needed standard of education but the cognitive aspect only.

In Nigeria, students churned out from the system are not literate graduates because they are poorly. This problem does not begin at the tertiary level of learning but from the primary school, which is the foundational level. Those responsible for this sordid state of affairs include: pupils/students, parent, teachers, government, and society as a whole. In particular, going by the cognitive performance our educational standard has fallen. Some students fail to attend lectures because of peer group influence. Majority of students do not have time for their studies but would instead play games, watch cartoons and films at the expense of their studies. At the tertiary schools especially, some students engage in cultism.
Another reason for falling standard of education in the tertiary institutions is the wrong choice of academic specialization by students. Some students do not marry their competence with their choice of discipline as they do not possess the natural endowment demanded by such course of study and also fail to contact a counselor who will guide them in choice of course.

Coupled with this is the corruption that has eaten deep into the fabrics of the society which encourages students to cheat in examinations. Some schools have become miracle centres where students are assisted to pass in examinations.
The craving of Nigerian youth to acquire paper qualification at all costs is another reason for the falling standard of education in Nigeria. Some desperate youth pay humongous sums of money to be awarded degrees by unaccredited educational institutions.
On the part of parents, some parents do not care about their children’s education as they believe the pursuit of riches is more important than the success of their children. Poverty drags some parent or guardians to involve their children in hawking at the expense of their education.

Teachers are also a major reason for the falling standard of education in Nigeria. Teachers are complacent and have divided loyalty as they engage in businesses other than teaching, thus leaving their students stranded. Some teachers are steeply involved in politics at the expense of their primary assignment. So how do you want the students to learn?
There is the government factor where merit is jettisoned during the recruitment of teachers thereby negatively affecting the quality of teaching.

The government professes free education but practically denies schools the basic requirements for effective teaching and learning. Classrooms, laboratories and workshops are not appropriately and adequately equipped. Corrupt officials who misappropriate institutions’ funds go unpunished.
Furthermore, the over-reliance on paper qualification today contributes to the falling standard of education sub-standard. In the past, merit was the main determinant for employment but today nepotism and god-fatherism hold sway, thus discouraging hard work. Students no longer face their studies squarely since those regarded as genius and gurus find it difficult to secure jobs after graduation in spite of their excellent performance.

Although the government is doing its best by formulating good education policies, and providing the necessary infrastructure to improve the education sector, there is still much to be done, especially on teachers’ welfare. Similarly, stakeholders at foundational level of education such as pupils, parents, teachers and the society at large must play their roles to raise the standard of education in Nigeria in the interest of future generation.

Yatai is a 400 level student of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano.

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