OPINION: Basic Education: A Sine Qua Non For National Development by Seye Ken
Undoubtedly, the present state of development in Nigeria is a true reflection of our educational system. As I proceed in this write-up, I won't bore you but instead shed more light why Nigeria may not get to a level of prominence like China and other nations that have overtook Nigeria in circuit of relevance. Over the years, many referendum had taken place on formation of educational policy; the most recent being in 2013. The federal republic of Nigeria in this policy, adopted education as an instrument "par excellence" for effecting national development. This exercise, to me, has remain just a paper activity with little or no implementation.
Primary and secondary education are very core to the life of any evolving child that aspires to reach a complete cycle in his/her academic pursuit. Once the standard is shortchanged it doesn't only give birth to a mediocre but also affect the richness in human capital of a society because such a child will not be useful to himself and will remain a burden to the society. The lack of qualitative and functional education in our country as resulted to brain drain.
These days we have graduates seeking to work in the public sector because in this place everybody is accommodated. No wonder government continues spending larger part of its budget on re-current expenditure. Note that no country has ever develop with this culture.
Government at all level has privatized both primary and secondary education without saying it and there is a noticeable threat on tertiary education. When you have schools that look like 'gari' processing factories with few or no teachers, then it depicts a misplaced priority on the part of government. Public schools in Nigeria over the years have been wallowing in shambles because there is no more standard content in it. Even a man that earns less than 60 dollars a month prefer to take his children to a private school even if the school is being operated in a shop-like structure or one uncompleted building because of the notion that public school can't meet up the high demand for qualitative education they yearn for; which is true. As a nation we can't pretend anymore because the system has not only collapsed but even smell malodorous, no more active government agency regulating the system and what we have today is an anarchy educational system where anybody can just wake up and start up one mushroom school and name it "international school" with the perception of meeting parent quest for quality education.
Basic education should not be toyed with by the government because many developed nations in the world do not only put large capital into education at this level but they show high level of commitment towards it because they understand the future of their nation depends on it. For example Chinese attaches great importance to the universalization of compulsory basic education in rural, poor and minority areas and at present basic education is provided by the government. Nigeria situation is not peculiar to this because private ownership has been exploiting the lapses created by the government in education sector and the ministry of education that is saddled with the responsibility of supervising, coordinating, and regulating academics activities has failed totally. My proposition is not that Private ownership of basic school should be discouraged, but there should be close-up supervision on their mode of operation and instructional content they use in teaching.
However, all blames go to the government at all level because they are meant to set the pace (standard) for the private sector to follow. What do I mean by this? Many states as of today are owing teachers, many public schools are filled up with dilapidated structures called classrooms, no more instructional packages and above all insufficient man power. I pity this country because our population keep growing and people continue to get substandard education and we think we are heading towards the right direction. A nation that treat education like this will always finds itself in chaotic situations; insecurity and innovation drought. Let's juxtapose teachers' remunerations in this part of the world with their other counterpart in other countries where our people run to for greener pastures, you agree with me that the difference is crystal clear. For example in Canada the minimum earnings for a teacher per annum is between 60000 to 80000 dollars. Also, as a public school employee in china which requires between 16 to 25 working hours per week, a teacher is entitled to between 942 to 2500 dollars per month. So tell me how a nation like ours can get to the level of technological prowess like china if we continue treating our teachers like garbage. Even the private schools that charge exorbitant tuition fees have also adopted government standard in paying teachers.
In remediating this, functional education must be brought back from exile and government must be sincere with basic education. Enough of cosmetic policies, this will take us nowhere. The world is dynamic and we can't afford to be static if we truly seek for a good future. Education should be made attractive by upgrading our school facilities to what is obtainable in the western world. Also, well-trained teachers must be employed and this should not be done by quota system but by competence.
As Nigeria strives to be one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020 it is imperative to admit that our educational system is near collapse and to attain this feet come 2020 educational problems must be addressed without further delay.
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