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For development: Please, educate the rest of us

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“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.” –Malala Yousafzai

People should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. We may not be like this Pakistani activist and heroine or experience what she went through in life but we could join hands in demanding for quality education to make this life a better place for everyone.

The developed countries attained their goals and technological advancement today by investing in education. China, Japan, UK, America and others are taking the lead in the world economy; they are prioritising their education system.

It is worrisome and indeed annoying for a country like Nigeria, since independence to date to have an unstable education system. Many sectors are lagging and that includes education. Education is the backbone of every developed society; any society that is wise and progressing today is because it is utilizing the knowledge acquired.  Unfortunately in Nigeria, for the past two decades the health, security, infrastructure and educational sectors have not been fully considered by our governments at all levels. In the early 2000s in my primary school days, I was among the best students who could read and write in Hausa. I’m not trying to put my primary school to shame but at that time, we were taught almost everything in class using Hausa Language. A few of us paid for the lessons taught in English Language.

I had the opportunity to be in a private school in my junior secondary school, where I found it difficult to communicate with fellow students because I couldn’t speak fluent English.

By putting more effort, I tried to catch up, but I am still traumatised. Whenever I remember that period, I shed tears. Many intelligent and talented children are currently in such schools and their zeal will be defeated because of poor academic guidance and performances. 

Education has gone beyond management. Developed countries have taken it to the level of governance; developing frameworks, implementing and monitoring its effectiveness, investing massively in the system, as well as partnering with private institutions.

According to findings, Nigeria’s total budget since 1999 till date is N35.133 trillion, with education taking N3.128 trillion. This represents 8.28% of the total budget. The lowest allocation was in 1999 (4.46%) while the highest was 2006 (10.43%).

The more worrisome area is the basic education because that is the foundation. It is shocking that politicians still campaign with roads, hospitals, schools and electricity.

Nigeria’s education system encompasses three different sectors: basic education (nine years), post-basic/senior secondary education (three years), and tertiary education (four to six years, depending on the programme of study).

One of the greatest problems facing Nigeria’s education sector is funding.

I once read a report where the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said some graduates could not write or read in English. This is worrisome.

Funding is another big problem that affects teachers and students. Teaching on an empty stomach is problematic. A teacher who is hungry cannot give his/her best.

If we are to get it right as a country, education must be taken seriously. One way of doing this is by adequately funding the sector and to check corruption in the system.

We have seen situations where teachers in government schools left for private schools; this should be addressed.

Proper training of teachers with necessary materials and technology will improve the condition of education in Nigeria. Necessary vetting measures should be taken to make sure that only qualified teachers are employed. Admissions into tertiary institutions should be based solely on merit. Also, there is a need to reduce the number of students in classrooms.

Koli is a graduate of mass communication, Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic Bauchi. Email: mernoukoli@gmail.com

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Usman Abdullahi Koli
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