Nigeria’s Education: 59 years Post-Independence
Nigeria is currently anticipating another “independence” following the end of British colonialism in 1960. Our independence ushered in an opportunity for the development of the educational sector.
However, for the past decade, Nigeria has been plagued by frequent political unrest. This political instability has generated negative effects on the education system.
Although education has been in crisis for many years, the situation has recently been made worse by frequent strikes staged by students, faculty and teachers.
HOW DID EDUCATION START IN NIGERIA?
A Brief History of Education in Nigeria Since 1960
Western or formal education started in Nigeria in 1842 only at the primary level by the Christian missionaries who managed the educational system according to their respective philosophies
During this period, the British colonial government couldn’t interfere in the education system due to some political and financial factors.
However, in 1872, they started to intervene in the education system by giving donations to the missionary societies to support education.
In 1882, the colonial government brought a document- Education ordinance, with the aim of having total control on education. This was their first formal pronouncement in education in Nigeria. Schools were classified then into Government and private school.
After 73 years from the date of establishment of the first secondary school, the first higher education institution was established in 1932. The first institution was the Yaba Higher College. The college was established in 1932, but commenced studies in 1934.
In 1948, The University College Ibadan was created, starting with just 104 students. The number of universities rose from one to five in 1962. And in the 1970s and 1980s, an appreciable number of higher institutions was established.
Statistics show that since from 1980 till 2018, the number of primary schools has increased to from 2400 to well over 12 million, secondary schools to about 1.2 million, 240,000 at the university level.
HAS OUR EDUCATIONAL SECTOR EVOLVED AS A NATION?
We can agree that what worked in the 1960s shouldn’t work now, but even if it works it wouldn’t be as effective today. Our education system hasn’t kept pace with the times and it has taken a toll on the quality of education.
One of the major concerns has been the decline in the quality of education offered by higher education institutions. At this present time, the quality of education has deteriorated substantially. The poor quality of many Nigerian university graduates has accelerated.
As a result, there is high unemployment amongst graduates especially in fields such as engineering. There is also concern about the lack of recognition of Nigerian degrees by overseas universities.
Overcrowding institutions and inadequate funding are contributing factors to the decline in the quality of higher education. The system has far outgrown the resources available to it to continue offering high-level quality education.
Other factors contributing to the decline in quality are the unstable environment due to frequent strikes by students or staff, the quality of students admitted to programs, and the quality of the academics recruited. These factors need to be taken into consideration in rethinking quality promotion.
Today, the education sector has suffered many damages. The standard of education that the schools were known for is no more. Nigerian university graduates lack the proper knowledge and skills to acquire employment. Measures must be put in place for Nigerian education to attain its past glory
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO FIX THIS?
According to Info Guide, Nigeria must move forward into the age of technological and scientific dependence, government and the contributing private sector must pay full attention to solving the myriads of problems surrounding the educational system in Nigeria.
Below are a few solutions to the falling educational standard in Nigeria:
1. Expand access to high-quality early childhood education programs.
2. Focus on recruiting, training and supporting teachers.
3. Examination malpractice has to finally end ‘kpata kpata”.
4. Establishment of more vocational and technical centers
5. Need for independent inspectorate committees.
6. Quality and affordable education should be made available.