Updated: Nov 21
The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 6, defines education as the process by which people acquire knowledge, skills, habits, values, or attitudes. Looking at this definition, one finds out that education is a tool of liberation from ignorance, poverty, and disease.
Religiously, education is paramount to most practicing religions in Nigeria (Islam and Christianity). Even the prophet of Islam, Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa-Sallam, said that seeking knowledge is compulsory for all believers (male and female).
Nigeria, as a country, provides freedom of education to all citizens. As such, the learned ones are placed in the highest positions in the country to encourage the young ones to be more serious in their educational pursuits. This means that a sound education system will make Nigeria a more organized society, with responsible men and women, including youth and children, who will have acquired the appropriate mental discipline.
Unfortunately, the system of Nigerian education is corrupted so badly that it has reduced the strength, efficiency, or value of Nigerian education.
Looking at the factors that led to the degradation of Nigerian education, teachers are not left out. Teachers are professionals who are trained specifically to impart knowledge to young people. However, most of the teachers in Nigerian institutions today are not qualified. They only picked teaching jobs as a means of survival and not out of love for the job. For that reason, a lot of lackadaisical attitudes are displayed.
It is observed that collaboration with students by some teachers to make up for their poor teaching encourages examination malpractice among students. Though teachers may frown at this notion, when examined more critically, it is found to be very true because many uneducated and lazy teachers of questionable character have found their way into this noble profession of teaching. This class of teachers can justifiably be called ‘Cheats’. Therefore, products cannot be anything better than ‘Cheats’ themselves.
It is an open secret that the lack of qualified teachers in some important subjects contributes to the poor system of education in Nigeria. An observation of many secondary schools today reveals the unfortunate reality that the teaching staff is predominantly composed of underqualified educators, many of whom underwent hastily designed crash programs. These teachers are ignorant of the correct methodologies for teaching. They have no teaching experience or skills and are not really of the professional class. They often loiter near examination halls, whispering answers to their students. Sometimes these sets of teachers condescend so low as to sit and write such examinations as G. C. E, JAMB, etc for the students who have paid them large sums of money. The sad effect of this ugly trend is that many university undergraduates and even graduates cannot defend their certificates when the time comes for them to be masters in their fields of study.
Historically, we were made to understand that the acquisition of education by the people of Africa was the light that penetrated and dispelled the pull of darkness that once enveloped the continent. The colonial masters brought Western education to us and built schools where knowledge and good morals were inculcated in the people. In Nigeria, those educated people helped put a stop to some of the offensive, despicable, and inhumane cultural practices that were prevalent then, such as the twins. Many people who attended schools built by white people secured employment in the civil service and contributed their quotas to the development of Nigeria.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the post-primary schools and universities in Nigeria offered quality education to the students, and good morals were imparted to them. Little wonder then that Nigerian schools became an educational dream destination of sorts for non-Nigerian students who were hungry for qualitative university education. At that time, our universities were truly citadels of learning and strongholds of scientific and humanistic knowledge. And the products of our schools could hold their own in their chosen areas of specialization at the global level.
Regrettably, the decline in educational standards in Nigeria was partially caused by military intervention in our politics. Our military ruler’s enactment of draconian laws to muzzle voices of dissent in the polity compelled our leading intellectuals to leave Nigeria.
History reminds us of Patric Wilmot, a lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who was deported to his country for flimsy excuses. Also, the devaluation of our Naira currency, owing to the mismanagement of our economy, caused many professionals to seek greener pastures outside the shores of Nigeria.
So, parents who want their children to study such professional courses as accounting, medicine, law, and others would hire surrogate candidates to sit in for them in examinations such as NECO, SSCE, and NABTEB. ‘Miracle centers’ that dot the nooks and crannies of the country are being used to perpetrate large-scale examination malpractice to benefit a great number of candidates. Admission into faculties such as law and medicine is influenced by nepotism and inducements rather than merit. Merit is destroyed and sacrificed on the altar of nepotism, cronyism, and corruption. Not surprisingly, many doctors, lawyers, and lecturers in Nigeria display charlatanism while discharging their duties.
To compare, in the 1960s and 1970s, the certificates of secondary school leavers obtained then reflected their true academic performance and ability. In fact, they were able to defend their results without any hindrance. But today’s secondary school leavers are ignoramuses who know next to nothing in subjects they scored distinction in examinations like NECO, SSCE, NABTEB, and others.
Moreover, parents are not left behind in this matter. It is an open secret that some parents go out of their way to corner officials of examinations before the examination day. Such parents normally pay huge sums of money to corrupt supervisors and invigilators who allow students to cheat with impunity in the examination hall. The cheating may take the form of bringing into the examination hall textbooks like ‘Key Points’ or what is popularly called’ Bullet’. Some corrupt officials who are also parents feel indifferent because their palms have been greased; they have been bribed.
As if it is not enough, parents go to the extent of obtaining live and real question papers to ensure the success of their children in particular examinations. This act enables the students to get first-hand information on the questions with the aid of experts and to equally take the answers to the examination hall for use. In fact, this is one of the highest forms of examination malpractice sponsored by parents. And this should be taken seriously as a criminal offense. Unfortunately, in our dear country (Nigeria), no one even bats an eye. This contributes greatly to the degradation of education in Nigeria because most of the students rely on their parents’ efforts to get them all they need in the examination hall, therefore failing to give adequate attention to their studies.
In terms of security, the already compromised state of education in our beloved country has been further exacerbated by the escalating insecurity in Nigeria. The rapid attacks on schools and kidnapping of students for ransom have led to the shutdown of many schools in some northern parts of the country.
Not to mention the JAMB officials, who have descended too low in their standards. The recent release of JAMB cutoff marks for universities and polytechnics has shown how bad education has become in Nigeria. JAMB should stop giving lower cutoff marks because it will not make the students able to compete with other students worldwide.
Looking at all these impediments, Nigeria is not getting it right in the aspect of education, considering its age. These issues need to be investigated by the appropriate authority to find lasting solutions and gain back the standard of education needed for the provision of a productive life for our dear country, Nigeria.
Written by: Yusuf Yusuf Abubakar
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Meet Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, an accomplished educationist hailing from Anyigba, Kogi state, Nigeria. He earned his Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) in English and Islamic studies in 2011. Yusuf continued his academic journey at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, achieving a B.A Ed in English. Beyond his academic pursuits, Yusuf is recognized as a proficient teacher and an aspiring writer.