50 Years Of Nigeria's Education: Challenges And Prospects

3483 words - 14 pages


The fifty years history of Nigerian education is fraught with mixed statistics. On the one hand are fascinating statistics of an education system that has produced some of the world’s best brains in different fields of knowledge. On the other are disturbing statistics of an education system that today is at its lowest compared to standards in Africa and elsewhere in the world. This paper draws attention to the challenges inherent in the nation’s education 50 years into her nationhood, and the silver lining in her clouds. Noticeable among these challenges are: poor funding, poor or inadequate infrastructure, deteriorating ...view middle of the document...

This is attributable to a number of factors ranging from poor national leadership, inefficient academic administrators, poor study facilities, inadequate funding of academic curriculum, and promotion of low productivity among students. Attempts will be made to address these issues and the way forward.

Education is at the core of development of any nation. The Nigerian education system is largely influenced by the British system. Before the coming of the colonial masters, traditional education was the known form (Castle, 1975; Damachi, 1972; Fafunwa, 1975). According to Fafunwa(1975), the cardinal goals of traditional education were to develop the latent physical skill; inculcate respect for elders and those in a position of authority; develop intellectual skills; develop character; acquire specific vocational training and develop a healthy attitude towards honest labor; and understand , appreciate and promote the cultural heritage of the community at large.

In comparison, the British colonial education gave little consideration to the cultures of the Nigerian people in educational planning and development (Bude,1983; Obiakor and Maltby, 1989). The educational system remained the way the colonial masters left it, i.e. – 6-5-4. The early periods of independence did not focus on building an adequate philosophical foundation of education that could positively stimulate the heterogeneous cultures of Nigeria. The stimulation was negative. “Rather than capitalizing on national pride and patriotism, the focus was on a misguided capitalism and greed that created conditions for regionalism, sectionalism, tribalism, corruption and bribery to thrive.” (see Obiakor,1998). This situation deteriorated following the civil war that further retarded the nation’s progress.

By the end of the civil war in 1970 there was a change in her educational system. This was the era of oil boom, and so bursary and scholarship awards were given to students to study in whichever institution and country they please. This period also witnessed the establishment of additional universities, colleges and primary schools. By 1976 the federal government introduced the Universal Primary Education (UPE). This was aimed at eradicating illiteracy and ignorance. The thrust of the programme was to re-emphasize the objectives enshrined in the 1970-4 Second National Development Plan. The essence of this plan was to make Nigeria a “united, strong and self-reliant nation; a great and dynamic economy; a just and egalitarian society; a land of opportunities for all her citizens; and a free and democratic country.” This no doubt was a welcome development.

In the 1974/75 fiscal year the Federal Ministry of Education set out the ambitious task of preparing for school entrance examination all 6-year-olds throughout the country. By 1977 the ministry had spent one billion naira on the UPE programme. The educational sector maintained this high profile investment in education during the...

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