People’s Participation in the Provision of Education
Educational policy in Nigeria has passed through two significant stages, the colonial and post independence eras. Prior to the British conquest of the area and the subsequent establishment of Colonial Government, most of the area to the northern and western parts comprised empires, kingdoms and some chiefdoms, while in the central parts and south eastern parts there were small chiefdom with some semi autonomous communities. In the northern parts, Islam was deeply entrenched both in the religious belief and educational orientation of the people who had a uniform Qur’anic education policy (Ozigi and Ocho, 1981). In the southern parts, each ethnic group had its own traditional form of education based on its own culture and tradition, whose aims and objectives were similar (Taiwo, 1980). The curricula which is informal comprises developing the child’s physical skill, character, intellectual skills and sense of belonging to the community as well as inculcating respect for elders, and giving specific vocational training and the understanding and appreciation of the community’s cultural heritage (Fafunwa, 2004). This was the scenario in 1842, when the Christian missionaries arrived on the coastal area of the southern part of Nigeria and introduced western education. The aims of education as given by the missionaries were to enable recipients to learn to read the bible in English and the local language, gardening and agriculture as well as train local school masters, catechists and clergymen. Ozigi and Ocho (1981) noted that even though the Christian missionaries’ major objectives of establishing schools were the propagation of Christianity, their greatest legacy was their educational work and development of indigenous languages into writing.
However, it is the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria in 1914 that brought people of different ethnic groups and faith together, as one country thereby creating a pluralistic society that necessitated the adoption of a federal structure for Nigeria. Also, British policy of indirect rule restricted the activities of the missionaries in the predominately Muslim Northern protectorate thereby, curtailing the spread of Christianity and western education (Fagbumi, 2005), leading to a considerable educational gap between. the northern and the southern parts of Nigeria (Ogunsola, 1982). Also when grants in aid were given to missions and voluntary agencies’ schools, the Qur’anic schools were excluded because of their peculiar curriculum (Imam, 2003). The colonial government needed vital personnel from amongst the natives and thus, the responsibility for the provision of western education in the northern parts of Nigeria, shifted to the colonial government (Ogunsola, 1982). In this set up, three forms of education: Qur’anic, traditional and western education co-existed side by side with the north and south each having a different pace of development in terms of western educational attainment. This was the scenario by 1944 which heralded the advent of globalisation in the post Second World War period that coincided with the processes of democratic transformation and national liberation from colonialism. Since then educational policy in Nigeria has been shaped by the quest for national development based on political and socioeconomic considerations.
Education in Nigeria has transcendent the bonds of an ordinary man’s understanding. The crucial important of education as the key to genuine development and the enhancement of a people’s capability and talents has led to the struggle for the control of education by the federal government (Omolewa, 2001:3). This understanding of the place of education made the national government of Nigeria to believe that educational goals in terms of its benefit and relevance to the needs of the individual as well as in terms of kind of society desired goals in relation to the environment and the realities of the modern world and rapid social changes should be clearly set out (NPE, 2004). As being claimed by the National Policy, education is no more a private enterprise but a huge government venture. Though this venture has witnessed a progressive evolution of government’s complete and dynamic intervention and active participation, but the adoption of education as an instrument for excellence for effecting national development has opened up wounds to be healed.
The economic and financial constraints placed on education since the recent past in Nigeria had had increasingly adverse effects on quantitative as well as qualitative aspects of education and training in all forms. At the same time, poor capacity for educational planning, administration and management has manifested from one government to the other, which are regarded as the sine qua non of successful implementation of educational innovations.
We are not here examining the philosophy as set out in the nation’s working document because a re-examination may cause a total deviation, hence the contemporary issues would be the focus.
People’s Participation in the Provision of Education
From the dawn of history of education in Nigeria, communities, mission agencies, individuals and other accredited bodies participated and still participating in the provision, supervision and management of education in Nigeria. Education before government’s intervention was adjusted to be of high standard. The quest for further control and increased participation made the federal government took over the schools. A typical example is the education edict of 1970 enacted by the then East Central State as part of its post-war education policies. This step was later followed by the national government taking over the control of all schools without considering the consequences of funding, provision of learning facilities, infrastructure and control of the increased population of the new entrants into these so called government institutions.
Events of time past in Nigeria proved that, the total control as assumed by the federal government led to further instability in the standard of education and a near total collapse due to military government’s intervention in the management and proffering solutions to the ills and problems of education in Nigeria.
Political Social and Economic Situation
Never before the inception of the present Obasanjo’s administration has Nigeria as a country witnessed such a popular commitment to programmes of action for economic recovery and development, structural changes and human-resources development. However, this commitment is far from being a general consensus among the segments of the people to adopt “packages” proposed by others. These packages need to be modified according to the political, social and economic conditions of each sectors of the country.
The political background of education ushered us into knowing that Nigeria among other African countries in the 1980s participated in conferences and summits that proposed several aggressive strategies for new foundations for education (e.g. Lagos Plan of Action, 1980, the Harare Conference of Ministries of Education, 1982, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), 1985, the Khartoum Declaration, 1988, etc (Chinapah, 1991).
Socio-economic and structural imbalances in Nigeria development are often approached in a polarized manner. The zigzag approach that was the invention of the instability of government and the attendant policies; from one unachieved policy objectives to an unrealistic another and in the final analysis, education was and is still the worse hit. The social situation that lingered from the mid-1980s has deteriorated in many ways and has been marked by crisis in most areas of human development-health, nutrition, housing, education and employment. Poverty has become a wide hydra headed monster in both the urban and rural areas of the country affecting large population of the people. The difficult economic situation has not remarkably changed from the past, rather this has been renewed by disrupted transport routes and uprooted communities (flood areas) affecting both economic and political situations of the country. Serious economic dissatisfaction originates from rapid inflation, distribution and structural imbalances, wage-policy problems, harsh staple food-price adjustments and marked reduction in people’s living standards. The above socio-economic problems are further aggravated by terrible housing conditions of low-income earners, poor nutrition, low resistance to disease, the looming menace of AIDS and serious drug abuse problems among the youths in the urban and semi-urban areas of the country.
Among so many concerns of the education system for development and national upliftment are, provision of adequate facilities that will match with teaching/learning at all levels of education. This has witnessed a sorry state in Nigerian schools:
Cultism – This has become a wide spread phenomena among students of both secondary and tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Our education curriculum needs reorientation towards solving this threatening situation in the country.
Drug Abuse – Drug abuse has become a common practice among the young ones at all levels of the national education system. In most of the time, the addicts who are supposed to be the pride of the nation are left in the hands of the law enforcement agents. They become wastes. Schools and colleges, mosques and churches and social organizations in the country need to rise against this destroyer of the future nation builders.
Corruption – This has become the order of the day in all the sectors and levels in Nigeria. Corruptions of various types has plagued and blinded our sense of judgement and reality of life in Nigeria. In high places government money is being tampered with at the expense of the generality of the people of this nation. Miller (1947:93) in Omolewa (2001) lamented that:
Bribery and corruption is rampart in all offices. In the African hospitals, drugs, injections and even treatment are illegally sold… Theft is becoming so universal and there is a callousness towards suffering and pain.
In all its facets, this situation is getting worse and worse in Nigeria. It was almost institutionalized before the promogation of law against this most devastating practice in high places in Nigeria.
Education is the bedrock for nation building and development. The Nigeria educational system has for long been bedeviled with shoddy planning and therefore, implementations.
The successful implementation of the programme depends on a very careful situational analysis so as to avoid the failure or cause of UBE fail affecting UBE.
Under-funding has been a hitch in the nation’s education system. There is shortage of facilities and existing structures have decayed beyond repair. The teaching profession has been even hit by the scourge of brain-flight.
To cope with the expected demand of a free, compulsory and universal basic education, the programme requires a careful situational analysis of the teachers, facilities and funds.
Realizing the importance of education and how laudable the UBE programme is, the following measures are recommended for immediate action.
1. Considering the gigantic nature of the UBE project, adequate funds need to be provided in terms of teachers, infrastructure, equipment. Money earmarked for the programme should be judiciously utilized.
2. The teachers’ registration council should be strengthened to ensure that only those who are qualified professionally are registered to practice as teachers in Nigeria. A situation where teaching is seen as anybody’s vocation or a springboard to other jobs must be stopped. Teachers should always go for refresher courses once every three years so that they will continue to learn new methods and strategies.
3. For the success of the education system, the UBE requires not only new teachers who will be trained but also that the existing ones in schools need orientation about the programme.
4. government should provide more school buildings and other facilities because of the increases in school enrolment.
5. The teacher factor, infrastructure and funds can still be analyzed and make some amendment where necessary. This will help in the smooth implementation of the programme.
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