By Peter Osalor
The following are some of the biggest problems facing Nigerian education:
1. Inadequate infrastructure, manpower and equipment across all levels of education, from primary to tertiary.
2. Under-funding from government, which continues to shrivel resources and stunt growth in the sector.
3. Restrained private participation and almost exclusive dependence on government aid.
4. Issues of responsibility and control due to overlapping federal, state and local government jurisdiction.
5. Insufficient use of information and communication technologies,modern equipment and innovative methods of teaching.
6. Reliance on expatriate faculty in higher educational institutes due to lack of local manpower.
7. Absence of curricula relevant to national manpower requirements and human development goals.
Advisory commissions set up by colonial governments in the early 20th Century were among the first to report basic deficiencies in educational systems across Africa.
They noted that the quality of education provided in the continent was singularly detached from the needs and aspiration of local populations. Sadly, that continues to be the problem in Nigeria at least, where the government has been hard to revamp the education system in line with the MDG and 2020 goals. Because of the time_bound nature of these programmes, Nigeria needs to deliver fast on several counts.
“ The government must design broad strategies to receive and develop the education system in tune with socio-economic realities and the country’s long- term growth targets.
“ Investment in education has to be substantially enhanced; expenditure models need to be reworked to allow for universal basic education together with effective vocational training.
“ A substantial portion on the investment must go for infrastructure development and training and orientation programmes for teachers at all levels.
“ Radical transformation of higher education must be achieved with the aim of providing socially relevant skills to unemployed youths in both rural and urban regions.
“ Development of sound tertiary institutions to provide quality skills education and training to internationally acceptable standards is vital.
“ Government must create conditions for increased participation by the private sector and civil-society organisations in educational reform and execution.
“ Effective monitoring and supervision of budgetary to ensure accountable utilisation of resources.
In August 2009, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua announced that it would declare a state of emergency against unemployment and joblessness by extensively using IT systems and operations to train unemployed Nigerians. Although the assurance of rapid improvement in the employment scenario is spirited, whether Abuja approached the challenges holistically remains to be seen.
The long-term economic growth of this nation of 150 million people is effectively tied to the skills of its manpower. The question before Nigeria is whether it recognises education as the key to expanding economics opportunities.
The government must be ready and willing to open technical colleges, skilled centre and vocational institutions, so that the youths can venture into various enterprise and thus increase the nations economical development.