Curbing The Misplaced Priorities In Nigeria Education System (Part one)

Like every other sector of the economy, Education which is the key to a nation’s development is not devoid of challenges. Inadequate qualified personnels, dilapidated structures, mass failure, examination malpractice e.t.c used to be songs in the mouth of Nigerians when it comes to problems facing education system. However, in recent times, there are other contributing factors which we over look and very unfortunately, they are the root of other problems in education. I describe them as misplaced priorities in education which are discussed below.

Government/Teaching profession: The country is loaded with very good educational policies but the basic challenge here is inability to implement them. The funds allocated to education during national budget may not seem big but are mismanaged most times. Government owned schools are supposed to be more well equipped than privately owned institutions of learning but reverse is the case. Yet we daily preach getting a better education for our children. To worsen the whole thing, teaching profession that raises others is not a full fledge profession. That’s why during university placement test, candidates who didn’t meet up with their departmental cut-off marks are pushed to education faculty even when education is not their choice of course. This is same reason classroom teaching has been taken over by individuals who have never seen the four walls of formal education and those who are not in the profession. This is like a mechanic treating patients in the hospital or a cobbler handling a legal case in the court of law. We blame this misplaced priority on low employment opportunities, so the school becomes a shoulder to lean on. These proves the teaching profession as a dumping ground. Though, the government is cautious enough in employing trained teachers in its owned schools but private school owners on the other hand never cares whom they employ to the classroom, and so they contribute greatly to this problems.

Parents/Guidance: Parents too are not helping matter. Proverb says train up a child the way he should go so when he is old, he will not depart from it” and not to “hide some things from a child so when he is old he will discover it”.They believed that the moment their wards gain access to computers such as cell phones, they will get corrupt and focus less on their studies. Truth be told, as a parent, you can never monitor the activities of your wards hundred percent. That which you are keeping away from them, they will eventually learn it outside, and most of the time, they learn them in the wrong ways. Make these children know that computers are mainly for learning. From primary school level, use the computer to teach them for instance spellings, numbers, shapes, colours, even allow them to type in words to check the meaning of such terms. As they do that, simply tell them the process is called browsing. By doing so, you are building their minds towards the positive impact of the computer. If you groom them that way, they will know their limit. You can’t give your child a cell phone to learn but they are allowed to spend a good amount of time playing games with it. Which is more important, the games or learning? Please let’s grow up.

Teachers: Most teachers in developing countries like Nigeria are not computer literate. They can barely understand how to put electronic gadgets to learning. The Coronavirus (COVID 19) Pandemic has revealed how poorly the education system is technologically. The government and teachers want to force a strange means of learning on learners who have been denied access to electronic gadgets. We now see the computer as a positive means of learning overnight. We call it emergency tools to pass lessons to learners at home. But this is something that would have been part of the system if it was quickly and fairly incorporated into learning. In the work of David Ugowezie on”go digital or go bankrupt“, it was clearly stated that “whatever one is set to do should be in response with technology”. Teaching profession needs to move with growing technology and so the government should train the teachers more in that aspect so that in time of emergencies like this, things can properly fall in place. Let’s say COVID 19 is an eye opener and an umbrella for the next raining day.

Introduction of CBT: To curb examination malpractice, computer based testing (CBT) was introduced by the Joint Admission And Matriculation Board (JAMB). What a welcomed development we exclaimed. But have you wondered why we still record mass failure in CBT? May be because the cart was put before the horse. CBT should have at least be introduced first to schools to enable learners familiarize with its features. They should see it as a normal testing method so that during the unified tertiary matriculation examination (UTME), it won’t be strange to them.

Most candidates fail CBT not because they don’t know what to write but simply because they were not used to handling computers. Few days ago, I met a student who had taken UTME last year but didn’t beat the cut off. This student asked me for my cell phone to browse for some information of which I granted her access. But one thing that shocked me was, she asked me to help her google the information that she doesn’t know how to operate android phone. Then I quickly recalled she had earlier told me she failed UTME because she was slow to understand the Computer.

It is important we understand that 95% of candidates taking this UTME CBT are teenagers whom by virtue of nature have minds of their own. Parents and schools deny these learners access to computer at childhood when they were teachable but at teenage stage, because of CBT, they suddenly present it to them. What do you think will happen? 85% of these learners will spend their time exploring the gadgets on social media, Snapchat, adult contents and all worth not. Why, because anything that is new to a teenager must be explored to a negative point of satisfaction. It takes very few of these categories of candidates to set their priorities right. So the earlier you teach them, the better for the society.

Gloria Ogunbor.