EDUCATION plays a crucial role in the development of any nation. No nation without quality education for her masses grows and develops. This has been overtime displayed and demonstrated in countries with advanced democracy and development.
For instance, if nations prioritise their education institutions and have great number of people that are well educated and grounded in knowledge, the country is bound to revamp in various sectors. But where a nation lacks quality education for its citizens; all round development cripples and the system deteriorates.
Quality education can be attributed to system of education that enables students to attain their full potentials and fit into the society as full and well-formed citizens. The United Nations, through Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), laid emphasis on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of lifelong learning. This is not measured only by literacy and numeracy but also by cognitive development of people in all spheres of life regardless of location, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. Through formal and informal means of acquiring education, skills and knowledge are impacted and advanced from generation to generation.
Stressing on the importance of making education a nation’s priority, a revolutionary and human right activist, Nelson Mandela described education as the great engine of personal development. According to him, destroying a nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or use of long range missiles, that it only requires lowering the quality of education of that nation……and that no country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.
Aside aforementioned economic benefits of education, if there are many educated people in a country than illiterates that are well formed in learning, character and skill, corruption will reduce; attitude and psyche of people to certain issues and things that will improve or deter the nation will change for good. Nigeria will advance economically, politically, technologically, socially and otherwise.
Developed countries like Canada, Japan, United States of America and European countries are regarded as custodians of world economic and technological powers through the awareness, acceptance, impact and development of human resources and effectively inculcating in their manpower full potentials for the nation’s productivity.
In achieving these, their educational institutions are top notched; their laboratories are equipped with necessary apparatus needed for practical knowledge, unlike some schools in developing countries like Nigeria where most students are still left with just knowing the names of chemicals and other apparatus with aid of drawings and textbooks which are orally listed or written on the board.
In some disciplines like medicine, geography, architecture, mass communication, micro-biology, among others, students are exposed limitedly to educational facilities and important working equipments that are used in various fields of studies are made available to them during Industrial training (IT) with just duration of one month, six months, as case maybe. Whereas, 21st century schools need to be well equipped with all or most of the educational materials, not just as part of IT and lecture but also accessible throughout the period of academic studies or pursuit.
Developed countries’ system of education is well structured and valued. They don’t play with their educational system, even if it is only at basic, secondary or technical school that one attended, they come out well formed because they have a well organised, quality, and developed institutions with basic education infrastructures and amenities which aid, reinforce and mould students to optimally learn and put in practice all that were taught and after school, join labour force or contribute their own quota to the economic growth of their countries.
If we have in Nigeria a good number of educated or literate people, the country wouldn’t have been the same; the country will have a facelift. Backwardness in our educational policies, e-education, technologies, lack of funds and other essential upgrades have contributed to the reason why Nigeria still operates obsolete system of education compared to developed nations and part of the reasons why the Nigerian government, over the years, wants the country to advance through Vision 2020.
The Vision 2020 targets at turning Nigeria to one of the 20 largest economies in the world make stronger her leadership in Africa and conspicuously contribute in the world economic and political realm. The vision looks blurring as we are already living in our dream and there is nothing much to show for it. With Nigeria experiencing economic quagmire and instability, the country is in urgent need of pragmatic solutions to totally break free from shackles of borrowing to finance its budget and pay debts, despite the fact that the country is endowed with natural resources to reach the vision.
The education unit which ought to play a very fundamental role in propagating the course has not been fully recognised and seen as a vehicle of growth and development. Contrary to United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s recommendation that 15 to 20 per cent of the nation’s budget be allocated to education, in this year’s national budget presentation of total estimate of N10.33trillion, 6.7% budget, that is an aggregate of N691.07 billion has been set aside for Education Ministry, while N620.5 billion or 7.05% was allocated in 2019, N605.8 billion or 7.04% in 2018 budget proposal, 7.4% or N550 billion in that of 2017 and N369.6 billion for 2016 budget. The 2020 budget on education has the highest sum but below in the percentage given as benchmark for funding of education.
In Nigeria, most education institutions and technical schools are faced with inadequate educational equipment or enabling environment. Majority of the secondary schools that offer science courses and higher institutions of medical studies don’t have modern science laboratories and standard libraries. Among those that have these laboratories, what is the quality of scientific or technical education that is inculcated in the students? Are the teachers well trained and updated to fit in the contemporary system of education? In most cases, most of these teachers were once students who underwent through these “citadels of learning” as said and now in labour force offering what they were taught over the years; producing unqualified teachers and students who are certificate conscious. People read or cram to pass and acquire certificates. Most schemes of work, especially in the science sector, teaching methods and curricular are outdated. There is need to revisit and amend some of the teaching techniques.
Poor funding of schools and provision of basic infrastructures still pose as factors that dwindle learning, talk more of fitting in modern level of technology and ICT learning. According to the survey report tendered by the National Universities Commission (NUC), about 30 per cent of Nigerian students’ populations have adequate access to classrooms, lecture theatres, laboratories, workshops and libraries. In 21st century, it is saddening to note that the resources and funding of education institutions do not meet with myriads of undergraduates in school. What can be done to change all these?
Discussions on actualising vision 2020 are trending and are burning topics on the lips of Nigerians as we are now in the year. The vision of having well sounded educational system to some school of thought does not look tenable in 2020, but if we begin to pursue it now and incorporate all the necessary things needed to be done, a lot can still be achieved through the system which will make the country grow. Education should be actively seen and recognised as paramount tool of growth for developing the country as the standard of education of a nation can dictate its economical growth. It can also be achieved by re-jigging our educational policies; having good laid down policies and standard, increase in education funding and properly manage capitals forprojects that are allocated to the system. People should place importance in acquiring education as some see acquiring education as waste of energy, time and money.