By Hauwa Ahmed Jibril
The president of the United States of America, Barrack Obama once said, “in a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity, it is a pre-requisite”. Similarly the South African hero, Nelson Mandela said “education is the great engine of personal development it is through education that a daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of a farm worker can become the president of a great nation.” The quotation reveals how pivotal education is to our survival as a people and remains the engine that is driving the world and the only factor that can ensure sustained development.
In our case, however, it is the opposite. Lots of Nigerians have been denied an opportunity to acquire quality education. It is never a mistake for UNESCO to have recommended that countries should dedicate 25% of their annual budget to the education sector; this decision must have been arrived at after rigorous deliberations and researches to know the needs of the sector. It is generally agreed that education is central to human existence, as no society can move forward without education, being the bedrock and foundation of development. It is only through education that researches are conducted new frontiers are discovered and quality of human life is improved, it is only through education that nations attain greatness as old civilizations history has shown. Alas an uneducated society is a doomed society.
Events unfolding over the years regarding the education sector in this country (Nigeria) shows that the future of the younger generation is at stake, and may collapse if adequate measures are not taken, to correct it. Starting from the primary schools, a Nigerian that can afford private schools no longer send their children to public primary schools, the reason is not far from the state of our public primary schools that is characterized by unqualified teachers, insufficient teaching and learning equipments, poor welfare for the teachers, dilapidated structures and unwillingness on the part of the government to turn the situation around for better. The private schools are a little bit better but also have their short comings; this includes unqualified teachers, where they employ even secondary school leavers to teach, examination malpractice just to satisfy the parents and many other factors. The secondary schools are also faced with similar problems but extend to lack of laboratory equipments and ICT facilities to drive their learning process.
Climbing up to the tertiary education, incessant strike by ASUU at the university level and ASUP of the polytechnics are clear manifestation that the government is not ready to address challenges bedeviling the system. Agitations by this unions is centered around positive changes in the system, the incessant strike have badly affected a lot of students and the leaders do not care about it because they do not send their children to those public institutions for learning. Their children go abroad to receive “better” education or private universities in Nigeria which are beyond the reach of an ordinary Nigerian.
Universities in Nigeria cannot compete with their counterparts in other countries due to government neglect, characterized by lack of funding that has resulted in inadequacies like over congestions of lecture halls, poor hostel accommodation, poor ICT facilities that aid in teaching and learning, poor welfare of lecturers. The latter has forced the few ones that remain in the system to start looking for greener pasture abroad, especially in South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Uganda etc. With this development, the Nigeria’s future is at a great risk because the engine of development and growth is gradually allowed to pack off, that is education for Nigeria to move up and compete with other nations, sound education must be guaranteed to its citizens, which will in turn guarantee the future of the country itself.
Hauwa Ahmed Jibril is a 400 level student, Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano