Higher educational institutions in Nigeria turn out thousands of unemployable graduates who can’t defend the quality of their education
| By Anayo Ezugwu | May 20, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THAT the standard of education has fallen in Nigeria is no longer news but what may be shocking is the extent to which it has fallen. Today the quality of graduates turned out from the tertiary institutions is questionable, as majority of them cannot defend their paper qualifications. This set of unemployable graduates has swollen the unemployment figure prompting more than 3, 000 graduates, including Ph.D. holders applying for driver’s job at Dangote Group of Companies after some employers of labour tagged them as unemployable.
The falling standard of education did not start overnight. Many have contributed to it. Among them are take-over of school by the military, the civil war, abolition of boarding school system, abolition of teachers’ training colleges, quest for paper qualifications and policy sommersaults, among others. But some educationists believe that government should take the blame for the falling standard of education in the country.
Peter Okebukola, former secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC, said the falling standard of education in Nigeria should be blamed on policy inconsistencies and deficiency in policy implementation by successive governments in the country. He noted that it is the responsibility of government to lay down concrete policies for the smooth running of the educational system, adding that beyond policy formulation, standard setting and policy implementation were other roles which are lacking in the sector.
“Cross national comparisons confirm that Nigeria’s national policy on education and policies enacted at the state and local government levels are among the best in the world, but when viewed in the light that the system for which these good policies are enacted is among the weakest in the world, we cannot look too far to isolate deficiency in policy implementation as the culprit,” he said.
He emphasised that if Nigeria must get to the promised land in the 21st century, government, must start building schools that will meet international standards, training of new breed of 21st century teachers who are steeped in the use of modern methods of instruction, provision of a curriculum running from basic through higher education that will lead students to develop 21st century skill and make them acquire values of good citizenship and improve educational funding.
Lawrance Okeh, an Enugu-based counsellor, said that government is responsible for the falling standard of education in Nigeria. He said constant change of education policies by the government and lack of conducive environment for learning, contribute to the falling standard. He explained that most of the causes of the falling standard of education are things that can be controlled such as inadequate funding, lack of teaching tools and modern classrooms, corruption, constant strikes and acute shortage of qualified teachers. All these have contributed to the fall in the standard of education in Nigeria, he argued.
According to him, Nigerians respect paper qualification above performance in the fields. Hence, cognitive, affective and psycho-motor domains are supposed to be measured on the field. But students do whatever they can to get good grades in them including joining cults and threatening their lecturers, cheating during examinations, offering themselves, bribing and other despicable acts. He argued that another problem we have in this country is our leaders. Besides, he said, merit is no longer regarded as the yard stick in appointments. It is now whom you know and not what you can deliver. Instead of appointing people that are actually interested in education as minister of education, commissioner of education and education board members, they appoint people they can control.
“The standard of education in Nigeria has fallen and the blame for this can be put on the government and the parents. Government is paying lip service to issues that border on education in the country. The UNESCO recommendation is that every country should devote at least 26 percent of its annual budget to education but in Nigeria, this is not the case. The total amount allocated to education is less than 12 percent. This has really affected the sector to the point that most educational institutions do not have enough facilities for effective service delivery,” he said.
Oby Ezekwesili, former minister of education, in a paper presentation recently, decried the falling standards especially at the tertiary level. She opined that aspiring graduates should undertake studies on courses with lucrative opportunities than indulging in programmes that offer little chances of employment and self-actualisation. According to her, basic education in Nigeria requires serious overhauling so as to ensure that products that are migrating from one arm of the foundation to the other clearly merited the opportunity to do so, as well as help in ensuring quality. Part of the required overhauling, she said, must take into consideration the provision of the needed infrastructure, capacity building, curriculum review, pruning and improving the learning environment and teachers’ welfare.
Matthias Chibueze, an educationist, said the standard of education in Nigeria would continue to fall because politics and white collar jobs are hindering the development of the sector. He attributed the falling standard to lack of reading culture, unqualified teachers, quest for quick money and lack of dedication to duty. He said that all these problems emanated from educational foundation and that the governments should prove to the people that they are better than military governments by increasing their budgetary allocations to education.