NIGERIA EDUCATION AND STUDENTS’ PERFORMANCE: IT MAY GET WORSE
As we celebrate another Independence Day, I will like to go in retrospection of the 2014 West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) result that was released couple of months back; I never stopped wondering how worse this situation will get. Yes! It will get worse if we choose to continue to tread the path that led us here. It will be fantasizing to think it may get better and we do nothing critical about the condition of our education system. This is not pessimism because you don’t expect that you will have a change when you do the same thing same way you have always been doing it. How will the change come?
Nigeria education system is one that is very amusing. The decline in student performance is not a sudden sharp fall as some may think. For those that have been observant, the decline is has started for some years now but no one seems to care to do anything about it. There was a time when the Council used to award best performance in the examination and if you vividly remember, Nigerian students are always on top of the list. I’m certain that the reverse is now the case with this kind of outcome we have began to record. Gone are the days when Indian teachers were everywhere and Ghanians rush to our country to study. We have missed it so much!
Almost everyone had something to say about this ugly position of Nigerian students in the 2014 result released. From the wide range of people and persons that I listened to on the matter, some were quite right while others had nothing far from gibberish to blab in their analysis and bulk-passing to determine the root of the menace. I definitely do not have the absolute say on the issue, but permit my simple reasoning as I will like to share my view on the subject. Let me breakdown my analysis into few of the various segments of stakeholders in the Nigeria education system.
I am totally in the support of the idea that the Federal Government should have no business in the nation’s education in first place. This should be totally a State and the Private Sector affair if we truly are to practice true federalism. Education that has prospect of developing should be left in the hands of the concerned Private Sector and organizations while the state government only regulates their activities in a way that is peculiar to them.
But in this situation where the federal government makes it her business, why not give it the best shot?! Take a look at the education policies, how efficient have they been? In the last couple of years, the government has done nothing but putting old wine into new wine-skin in our education system. They have restructured syllabus severally but to what end, other than what many have suspected to be a way the government helps some people to make money by helping them to sell their books? What about the annual budgetary allocation to the education sector?
Take a look at the this analysis on Vanguard’s release on the 16th of November, 2012 about some the other African countries allocation for their education in the same year 2012 and compare with the acclaimed giant of Africa- Nigeria:
Bostwana 19%, Bukina Faso 16.8%, Ivory Coast 30%, Ghana 31%, Kenya 23%, Lesoto 17%, Morocco 17.7%, South Africa 25.8%, Swaziland24.6%, Tunisia 17%, Uganda 27% but Nigeria was at 8%.
No country listed above had an allocation that was less than 15% but our dear Nigeria stands even short of 10%. As at this 2014, the budgetary allocation for education stands at 7.1% which is far below the United Nations’ recommendation.
It will not be surprising if this is further reduced in the country’s coming financial year. Public schools in Nigeria have resulted into learning practical by theory because there is no equipment and facilities for practical studies. Imagine a science student in secondary school that knows what a conical flask look like only in the pictures he sees in the textbooks. How many of them have laboratory before we even begin to ask if it is properly equipped? Imagine this school in the cover picture of this article, that is a Senior class in a school in one of our States. How do we then expect to have best performance in external examinations? Imagine the learning condition of the students in the cover picture of this article.
School Administrators and Teachers
Let’s take a look at this other stakeholders, funny enough, I belong to this group. Though I do more of private, contract and freelancing teaching, I have intermingled with countless number of school proprietors and directors as well as instructors and teachers. With what I have seen so far, most of our school owners are out there on business venture and the first thing that makes sense to them about the system is how to make maximum return on their investment. School is business to them and it’s really among the most lucrative actually. That is why every other thing is secondary to them as long as they make their rising profit at the end of every academic session.
Most of the teachers are no difference. Teaching is always the last result for most Nigerian job seekers. Without passion and enthusiasm for the students and teaching profession, they enter into the sector only to earn a living. Imagine teachers that wouldn’t read and do research, what will such have to offer the students in this fast pace world of developments and innovations? I recall a lecturer I had when I was in the Polytechnic, his study material as we noticed has never changed since ages as he kept on passing the same to every new set he’s assigned to lecture. Another very funny lecturer was one that will face the board and whisper the entire lecture to the few that manage to get the front seat who barely even understand what he’s saying. We’d always wondered why this man always give us tough assignments and test and it was later discovered that he was doing a post-graduate studies and some of his works are what he always pass to us and as fortune will smile on him, there were some of my mates that will go all miles to get the answer to his questions by checking through every relevant book in the library. I am sure the only reason he was doing PGD in first place is to have promotion (to earn more pay) and not for the love of study or lecturing.
Parenting, as I know is a full-time job on its own but it amazing that many do not have this understanding. Some people just gave birth but are not really worth to be called parent if you look at the way they have handed over the nurturing of their children to the hands of the teachers and maids in the house all in the name of career and work. Tell me, because of who are they working? If they have been so busy instilling good morals and values into their children, how do they think they will manage the wealth they are amassing for them? When you see grown up adult and parents carrying chips and textbook to cheat in promotional and professional exams, what do you think they would not do for their children?
It starts from not having time to ask your children at the end of each day, what they have learned in school, what else happened in school etc. They barely had time to sit with their children to revise with them during examination period; after all they have paid a lesson teacher to handle that. I recall a particular mother, who will call me- the lesson teacher- to ask why her boy didn’t get everything in his school class work. “It’s your job to make sure he knows everything,” she’d say. Some parents go extra length to purchase answers for their children and if you ask why would they do that? They will tell you, “that’s what Nigeria has turned to.” Like they are not the ones turning it?! I had this guy I was preparing for WAEC some years back, each time I complain about his lack of seriousness, he’ll tell me not to worry myself that he will sure pass no matter what he does or do not do. Well, he did pass; much beyond what he could have gotten legitimately. I had no doubt to what transpired but I kept wondering how come he had access to that much cash that was required to do it? We should ask the parent, you will agree with me.
The level of laziness you find in students these days is very alarming. As much good internet has done, it has also made our student to be very lazy when it comes to sourcing and reasoning out answers. For those who may have a little time for study, once they google the question, they have the answer to copy straight away. Others will whine away the chunk of their reading hours to play video games, social networks, movies, gist etc. The ones that have performed exceptionally well and dedicated themselves to studies, how have they been rewarded? That takes us to the next stakeholders to take from the bulk:
The Corporate Organizations
Many Organizations today that are into one reality show, competition or the other will actually say that they are engaging in Community Development Services (CDS) or Corporate Social Resposibility as it is called today in terms of given back to the youth and society but is it not obvious that they are doing great job in diverting their attentions from academics? The Organizations, as much as they are bringing out talents in youths, want popularity and patronage to boost their sales; they want a face for advertisement and approval for their products and services but why can’t they look in the area of what will enhance education, academic prowess and intelligence in the youths?
“They can give hugely for irrelevant and nudity of girls but rarely have anything for intelligence and academic prowess”
How do we convince the students that hard-work and education pays when they can become instant millionaires in one game or reality show? Look at the enticements they get from some of these Organizations;
MTN Project Fame winners get N7.5m and SUV with a recording deal, Etisalat Nigerian Idol is N5m and multimillion recording contract for winners, Glo Naija Sings awards N5m and SUV with recording deal, Airtel’s Nigeria’s Got Talent gives N10m to the winner, Gulder Ultimate Search N10m, endorsement and SUV, Maltina Dance All gives N10m, Star The Winner-is and Star Trek dole out millions as well and so many others.
Now imagine the few Organizations that are educationally inclined in their kind of programs and compare prizes with the ones stated above;
Cowbell National Mathematics Competition gives 100 thousand naira, Lagos State Spelling Bee awards 50 thousand naira, School Scrabble Competition is 25 thousand naira, Abuja Cultural Competition for Schools gives a Laptop to the winner and others give lower prices you can’t even imagine.
Conclusively, at the time that WAEC 2014 result was released, many people and concerned groups took to their usual event analysis that is either myopic in consideration or totally futile in its outcome. There were daily rouses on every media, the issue became the topic of discus on every program and interviews but I ask, after all the noise was made, what has happened? What step has been taking to disallow a re-occurrence? Your guess is as good as mine, none! Take a look at the cover picture of this article, that was an examination mood and imagine what kind of condition and psychological influence the students are in.
Let’s wait till next year to see what will happen and you will see many coming out to make their noise as usual.
But in earnest, what do you think we can do differently? Kindly post your comment below.
You may also find this link interesting; how a beauty queen in Unilag got a car prize while a winner of debate competition got a laptop.