The Delivery Of Qualitative & Quantitative Education in Nigeria: Reading the Past, Writing the Future.
By Oluwole Sheriff Olusanya
September 8th was proclaimed ‘International Literacy Day’ by UNESCO on November 17, 1965 and it was first celebrated in 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally and celebrations take place around the world.
Some 775 million adults in the world today lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out. (Source: Wikipedia.com).
Last October, I wrote an article titled; ‘WORLD LITERARY DAY: CHALLENGES INHIBITING THE DELIVERY OF QUALITATIVE & QUANTITATIVE EDUCATION IN NIGERIA’. The article offered a holistic analysis of the state of affairs in the country’s educational system and gave an insight into the ways the derelict infrastructure can be transformed to lofty heights. This write-up is an updated version.
This year’s festival marks the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day and UNESCO is celebrating it under the banner “Reading the Past, Writing the Future”. It celebrated and honoured the past five decades of national and international engagement, efforts and progress made to increase literacy rates around the world. It also addressed the current challenges and looked into innovative solutions to further boost literacy in the future. This write-up would follow a similar direction.
Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of out-of-school children in the world; we also have a large number of adult illiterates. These disappointing facts are a clear revelation of the non-chalant attitude of successive administrations and condemnable desert occasioned by mal-administration.
Perhaps, it is quite unfortunate that there has not been any significant improvement in the educational sector in the past 12 months and this is the main reason I decided to pen-down my disappointments and offer advice to those in the positions of authority so that they can be reminded that education is the bedrock of any society and it should be given adequate attention for the country to move forward.
Mallam Adamu Adamu from Bauchi State was appointed as the Minister of Education by President Muhammadu Buhari sometimes last year. According to my investigation, he happens to be an ardent supporter of the President; a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he studied Accountancy. He is also a renowned public affairs analyst and columnist with Daily Trust newspaper. These facts show in clear terms that his appointment is not meritocratic by any means and this is one of the problems be-devilling the country in all spheres of our economic life. We will continue to get it wrong when square pegs are put in round holes. The Federal Ministry of Education is the governmental body that controls exclusively all issues effecting education in Nigeria and I would have preferred an erudite tutor/professor and someone with an unquenchable desire to ensure that there is a positive turnaround in the sector especially when there were a lot of promises made during electioneering. A good example is the school feeding programme.
Since independence, education and other critical sectors have suffered a lot of abandonment. Some of these citadels of learning are now a shadow of their former self because their past glories have eroded them. One of the parameters or yardsticks for measuring growth and development of a nation is in the level of education that the country has to offer its citizens/residents and the rot in our educational system is pervasive to the point that no parent would want their wards to school here anymore. Educational tourism like Medical tourism has eaten deep into the fabric of our national life and some Nigerians prefer to send their wards to countries like Ghana, Benin Republic and other west African countries in the region and beyond to the embarrassment of the self-acclaimed Giant of Africa.
One of the ways the decrepit state of affairs can be a turned around for greater efficient and educational tourism would be reduced significantly is to ensure that budgetary allocations are improved. This is of utmost urgency because it would ensure the gradual evolvement of infrastructure which is disappointingly dilapidated. However, I also like to remind the government at all levels that any positive change would only occur where there is persistent follow-up to ensure that projects awarded are fully executed because corruption is another problem that needs to be tackled in that sector for another significant revolution to take place.
In the same vein, another challenge facing education in Nigeria is poverty. This is so evident in the number of out-of-school children we have in the country. I would suggest that any serious government that intends to record significant progress in school enrolment would seriously consider the introduction of poverty eradication programmes that would lure more children to school. On this note, I like to state that the proposed school feeding programme and others of such should be immediately implemented but it goes beyond that. I believe that a massive re-orientation of the Nigerian public on the damages and dangers of child labour is urgently needed because most of these children are not in schools because they are working in bid to support their families in their own little way.
Finally, I like to state that this year’s banner; ‘Reading the Past, Writing the future’ could not have come at a better time. This is evident in the fact that there was a dramatic change in the government of our dear country in the previous year for the first time since we returned to the democratic system of governance in 1999. I want to appeal to the new administration (new? Its over a year actually) to read the history books so that it can learn from the mistakes, errors, blunders, success and achievements of the past because this would go a long way in its effort to write a brighter future.