Making Education Work In Nigeria.
“We do ‘gogodo’(hard farm labour), to enable us transport and eat our first meal for the day at break time”.
A senior secondary school II student at rural northern Nigeria.
“In my thoughts, a lot needs to be done to make education work, lift millions out of poverty – especially in rural Nigeria, and engage the rising young population. Education models needs to broken-down to fit every region and state, while taking into cognisance the economic, social and mental inequality that exists”.
Gospel Obele -21st century development and research economist.
Education and health are major factors in developing the human mind and socio-economy. As this fact stays true with proofs the world over, little is being done in Nigeria and in the African continent (as noted in my last article). As much as we clamour for updated curriculums, improved learning environment and many others, inclusive of these and of great importance, is the need to understand the internal dynamics of the depth of challenge per state and region, and how in totality, it affects the socio-economy and continent, if we choose to ignore.
To help us understand this better, I share on my experience and findings, from northern and southern Nigeria, and there on show us the challenge and give some suggestions on the way forward.
Snap-shots and findings from my experience in northern Nigeria.
- It surprisingly took me two hours to explain the first two laws of indices.
- The ratio of girl to boy child in my case was 5:21.
- School resumes late into the session because students resume late, I found that this happens due to their struggle to get a N2500 school fee and PTA levy. Moreover they need to be encouraged to go to school.
- The students find it hard to understand in English language especially (the new general mathematics text), and since all textbooks are written in English, it disrupts understanding and makes education a stressful venture.
- Students miss classes regularly due to all sorts of illness and often do not come to schools at least in one day of the week, because they need to help their parents make enough sales at the weekly village market days. Which are the main source of income and the surest for the next meal and family’s well-being.
As I struggled, I found something interesting and welcoming, which also could be a development model; each time I managed to speak Hausa, they understood better and learning is being appreciated, but a chunk of students were more committed to farming and technical things than to classroom learning.
Note; this situation is believed to be the possible case in most rural communities across geo-political Zones.
Snap-shots and findings from my experience in southern Nigeria.
- The students here were quick to understand and grasp basic concepts.
- Teaching staffs were more committed to making a living and getting engaged, than passing knowledge, even to the barest minimum, so tribalism, nepotism becomes the order of the day.
- Due to the unavailability of government schools, we have a good number of registered private schools, where I wondered how and why they were given license to operate.
- Here, laziness seemed to be the order of the day, the students see no reason or usefulness in learning, and hold dogmatic beliefs about life. Beliefs I saw, having discussed with a few came as an off shoot of; an environment stuck for years in illiteracy, the media, poor family and traditional structures.
- Little efforts are really being made to improve the capacity of staffs, teaching methodology and competitiveness.
Again, I observed the doggedness of some students to acquire knowledge, but the private schools led education drained interest, creativity and quest to know more.
Note; this situation is believed to be the possible case in most urban communities across geo-political Zones.
Big Development Question/Challenge:
- A huge intellectual gap exists from the two extremes, which has a capacity to deepen inequality and threatens the future and productivity of Nigerians in the new economy. How do we close this gap?
- 70% of our population – According to McKinsey, and the would be parents, business and socio-economic leaders in the new economy happen to be in this bracket, how then do we, despite our huge inequality and uneven spread of development, lift many out of the poverty trap, and boost prosperity especially in rural Nigeria?
To mention a few, I think the way forward should be…….
- We need to rethink the internal dynamics and appreciate what good it will do us if we address them for inclusive growth and development.
- Conduct a comprehensive situation audit and a cross inter-state educational analysis to understand the challenge and internal dynamics at play.
- Take on a Public-private led value re-orientation campaign, on the importance of education to economic development, and to take out the dogmatic beliefs. This campaign should be targeted to individuals, families, parents, teachers in all geopolitical zones. I will suggest a smart media campaign that drives home the reformation agenda.
- Take on a Train the trainer approach; the government should redefine the standard and expectations from every teacher in the sector, and do a comprehensive training on for all stakeholders, ranging from proprietors, teachers, principals et cetera.
- Standards should reveal basic requirements and qualifications to gain licenses to run private owned schools.
- Improve learning environments, the quality of teaching methodologies, upgrade curriculum that encompasses and delivers both in character and in learning.
- For rural Nigeria, where local dialects facilitates understanding, and where the intellectual gap exists, I think knowledge could be shared in local language, and subjects like agricultural science, should be made practical enough to enhance their farming, and other technical skills. Skilled students in farming and other technical areas should be encouraged in starting up local enterprise, and transportation networks be created into the cities to facilitate transportation of produce and inventions into the cities (as in the case of china). So as to facilitate trade in commercial terms and not just on village market days. Please note, if knowledge cannot be shared in local dialect, then more time will be taken to impart knowledge, and that may require restructuring or making flexible, the educational system to meet their needs.
- Incentives for stakeholders should be upgraded.
- The private sector needs to be encouraged and involved in the process of making education work.
- Institutionalize and create laws that protect and prosecute offenders who impinge the rights of a child to be educated, and many more.
In conclusion, fixing education is most imperative for the change we want to see; it will control the rate of rural-urban migration, manage inequality, provide the foundation for better tertiary education, stir real sector growth, aid inclusive growth and development and assure sustainable development.
“If Africa must survive globalization, then we must show more appreciation to the rising young population, grant them good education and make them the intellectual hub upon which the economy will thrive on”.
Gospel Obele -21st century development and research economist.