QUALITY EDUCATION: BRIDGING THE GAP by Godfrey Joseph Idoko
The Oxford Advance learner’s dictionary defines Education as the process of
impacting knowledge, skill and judgement to an individual which can be learnt in
either a formal or informal way.
But Quality Education is knowledge impacting module which is accessible and
affordable involves the use of standard teaching tools and facilities to impact facts,
knowledge and ideas to an individual.
The right to education is not only the right to access education but also the right to
receive education with good quality. Education must be available and accessible
but also acceptable and adaptable. Education in Nigeria is divided into primary,
secondary and tertiary. The first six years of formal education in Nigeria is
expected to be free and compulsory by law; which sadly again isn’t been applied
and on average, each Nigerian child is meant to spend 16 years combined going
through the country’s 6-3-3-4 educational system.
The Nigerian society just like other developing countries is greatly
unbalanced to an extent that the imbalance seems like it is gradually becoming a
norm. Unfortunately, this occurs when a society has a flawed structure which has
its axe faced to vulnerable citizens of the society who bear this brutal ill. The sad
reality today is that the Nigerian child coming from a low income home has little
chance of attaining any quality, substantial level of education because the
resources are simply not available to them.
Shortcomings in the Nigerian education system are limiting millions of kids from
accessing quality education. This has created so many gaps in the Educational
system of Nigeria and has affected the country negatively.
Such situations exist mainly because Nigeria’s education sector is plagued with
quite a few issues that need to be rectified to ensure that every child has access to
quality education, in line with the UN’s Global Goal for quality education, the gaps
can be bridged if the basic educational blunders are treated properly with caution
and concentration. These gaps include:
Similar to the health care sector, education is seriously underfunded in Nigeria. In
2018, only 7% of the national budget was allocated to education, far below
UNESCO’s recommended 15%-26% which frankly speaking still cannot cater
entirely for quality education in Nigeria because of the population size but will go
a long way to curbing the already existing gaps of acquiring quality education. In
2020, it was reduced to 6.7%. While many schools are owned and funded by the
government, the educational sector is also heavily privatised, which are often more
expensive schools rapidly spread across various levels of education in the country.
These schools are usually out of the reach of most Nigerians, who live below the
Public schools on the other hand are funded by the government; they are
generally cheaper but they typically lack quality facilities and learning tools to
offer quality education. Classrooms, Laboratories and lecture halls of so many
public schools be it primary, secondary or tertiary are often in disrepair and many
public school buildings are falling apart.
Teachers are also not paid very well and teacher’s welfare is almost minimal or
doesn’t even exist. This is seen in the present action by the Academic Staff Union
of Universities (ASUU) who is on labour and welfare-related strike that has lasted
for about 8 weeks: these occurrences happen almost every year since 1992.
Most of the Nigerian education curriculum is still based on the Universal Basic
Education (UBE) programme that was adopted in 1981. This has a deteriorating
effect on Nigerian Students especially as it limits the amount of digital skills many
Nigerian students are able to receive through formal education compared to their
counterparts in other countries.
This only proves that of course the curriculum is outdated. As such there is a need
to update the UBE curriculum as things evolve in the world based on digitalization
and civilization just as many countries have done as seen in the British curriculum
often used only in the private schools. A scenario is to imagine a school teaching
kids about floppy disks and 90s programming languages in 2020. There shall be a
disconnection between what they are seeing at home and on TV and what they are
being taught in school.
An academician also said that “When these kids go on social media, they see
how people in other countries learn, even if they know what they are being taught
in school is dated, they will have little or no faith in what we try to teach them.
That’s why we must update what we are teaching on the go. We don’t wait for the
authorities to chart the path”.
The Nigerian curriculum is not unified as well. Some schools teach Quranic
curricula, others follow a Montessori (developed by Italian physician Maria
Montessori in 1907) programme, and yet more follow other curricula; hereby
causing so many disparities in the educational sector of Nigeria.
- Teacher training and up-skilling
According to a 2012 inter-ministerial committee report on the state of Nigerian
universities, just 43% of Nigeria’s 37,504 university lecturers have PhDs. This
trickles down to lower levels of education where there are few properly qualified
teachers and a lot of less qualified ones.
There are also no nationally-recognised teacher hiring guidelines and private
school teaching is hardly regulated. Issues like this leave huge quality gaps in the
education of Nigerian children.
Teachers need to take more courses/trainings in order to refresh their skills
or pick up new things that could be useful to their students in the classroom. It is
evident from the testimonials of the older teachers who talked about government
intrinsic courses which unfortunately are no more. Some private school owners call
an expert to train their teachers too which goes to show the importance of this
exercise. I don’t think people really think about the progressive nature of education
and how it is not stagnant. There are teachers who want to improve themselves but
can’t afford to because their salaries can barely feed them. It’s very tough on them
with a highly demanding society to beckon with.
Nigeria’s education sector is rife with corrupt practices. There are so many stories
of paid-for certificates, “special centre” examinations, sexual
harassment, extortion, and leaked questions, especially in the country’s secondary
and tertiary institutions.
News has carried terrible incidents involving lecturers withholding test scores or
failing students for personal reasons, often with no way for those students to get
Also, in primary and secondary schools, meanwhile there have been many reports
of teachers sexually and physically abusing students as Seen recently with the case
of a teacher who physically abused and killed a 5 year old in Kano state which
eventually led to her death. Many Nigerian schools generally allow teachers to flog
children in school. In some regions of the country, it is even encouraged culturally.
It has been reported that more than 75 million children globally miss out on the
education they deserve because of conflict, natural disasters, or other crises.
Most of Nigeria’s out-of-school children are in the North-east and North-west
regions of the country. Such regions have been heavily impacted by the Boko
Haram and most recently banditry insurgency for almost a decade.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
has reported that about 2.8 million children are in need of education-in-
emergencies support in three conflict-affected States in the north eastern region of
Nigeria specifically Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. In these states, at least 802
schools remain closed and 497 classrooms are listed as destroyed, with another
1,392 damaged but repairable. This was evident in the abduction Chibok girls from
their School and so many other cases.
The Northeast and Northwest states have female primary net enrolment rates
of 47.7% and 47.3% respectively, which means that more than half of girls in
these areas are not in school presently. Other cases of insecurity has threatened the
educational sector which is seen with the uprising kidnapping cases that has forced
some schools to be shut down temporarily in states such as Kaduna, Kebbi,
zamfara, Sokoto, Benue and Plateau states.
In conclusion, given these issues, it is important that Nigerians across all areas of
society work together to ensure that the education system at the federal and state
levels have improved capacity to provide quality basic education.
More teachers must have the tools to gain essential expertise and skills. This
enables them to use validated teaching methodologies to provide sufficient quality
education. Perhaps more importantly, children in emergency circumstances must
have timely and affordable access to quality education services. Also the budgets
of the education sector should be reviewed and the welfare of teachers considered.
Unless a public school can compete with private schools in terms of quality
facilities and learning tools then all hands must be on deck to tackling the gaps that
exist already in our educational system.