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What Problems Characterize Primary and Secondary Education in Nigeria in the 21st Century

What Problems Characterize Primary and Secondary Education in Nigeria in the 21st Century

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Introduction

Every good system has some challenges that face it no matter how good and efficient they look from the outside. The Nigerian primary and secondary education system are no exception as it faces demons of its own.  Primary and secondary education is paramount in the development of a child and the mere fact that it acts as a link between primary and tertiary education makes it even super important. The challenges that the Nigerian secondary education faces are numerous and they need to be looked at keenly by the government, so that the subsequent generations don’t face the same struggles.

However, National Policy on Education (N.P.E) published the educational objectives in terms of the needs of the individual as well as the kind of society desired in relation to the environment and the realities of the modern world. It also contains government guidelines on implementation and monitoring strategies to ensure that there is the uniformity in educational practices in the different parts of the country. In spite of these objectives, none has been given attention to in full.
Many primary and secondary schools across the federation suffer lack of necessary infrastructures and dearth of renovation of existing ones. This has negatively affect the happiness, enthusiasm and the quality of learning of our students, which of course, is a contributing factor to the massive failures of students, both in internal and external examinations yearly. And, of course, it is a kind of situation that hampers the self-esteem of school administrators and teaching and non-teaching staff.

The aspects of instructional materials and methodologies have been completely erased. Teachers are not motivated to embark on improvisation of learning materials to the level of appreciable impact. There has been an acute decline in government supply of such graphic materials, appropriate textbooks and other learning aids to the schools in many States of the country.
Closely knitted to the above is the unavailability of good classrooms which have led to some States decisions to run a two-shift school arrangement. Also, there is the lack of good classrooms space with furniture, which could have provided moderate comfort to both the teachers and the students in the learning environment that should necessitate quality education.
In addition, secondary schools inspection and teachers supervision exercises have degenerated to mere routine with no meaningful feedback to the system. This issue of qualitative concern has been paid less attention to the favour of quantitative development in secondary schools. The problem emanating from these are poor infrastructural facilities, unsystematic planning and implementation of secondary education practices and activities, poor management of school resources, inadequate and haphazard schools supervision by Ministry Inspectors and so on. These shortcomings have serious implications for secondary education quality, both in terms of process and products.

The National Policy on Education stated that guidance and counseling units are to be created to advise students on the choice of subjects, which best fit their aptitude. This has long been waited for in many States across the country, and this has adversely depressed good performances of students. The resultant effects are frustration and tension.

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Nevertheless, it is the opinion of the writer that, for the future of our secondary schools not to be darker than this, the Federal Ministry Education should brace up to their tasks by reviewing the policy on education appropriately to cater for the ugly situation. Also, officials in the Ministry should be trained in the use of modern inspection and supervision techniques in line with the aim and emphasis of education under the 9-3-4 policy.

It is pertinent that the government and voluntary agencies and organisations should collaborate together to build standard structures for the schools for a more efficient and effective education of students in the secondary level. There should also be functional department of guidance and counsellors to help the students to select the appropriate subjects, in which they perform well, thereby reducing the degree of psychological frustration. A reliable scheme for the allocation and disbursement of funds for secondary education should be put in place and given close surveillance, so that subventions to schools are not unnecessarily delayed. In short, the conditions of our secondary schools need a general overhauling and improvement

THE PROBLEMS CHARACTERIZING PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION IN NIGERIA IN THE 21ST CENTURY

The primary and secondary education in Nigeria has overtime entangled with different kind of problem which has course several damage in the running of the system and has somehow resulted to the level of poor graduating student seen around our dear country.

Among many problems confronting primary and secondary education in Nigeria the following is discusses.

  • Unstable Staff: As for teaching staff in Nigeria primary and secondary school today, the problem is no longer that of unavailability, but that of instability. This does not help the development of the education system. Because of the comparatively poorer conditions of service of teachers in the Nigeria society, the tendency for many teaching in the nation’s school today, as was the case with their predecessors in later colonial and independent Nigeria, is to use the teaching profession as a stepping stone to other highly esteemed and more attractive jobs. In consequence, teaching is gradually becoming a profession for fresh graduates of universities and colleges of education who are ready to call it quit, without provocation, as soon as they find a greener pasture elsewhere. From time to time, therefore the teaching staff in Nigeria educational institutions is usually unstable. Consequently, the teaching, learning process installed everywhere. Unless the conditions of service of teachers, at all levels, are improved and their status raised higher in the Nigerian society, the teaching staff of our educational institutions including the universities, shall continue to be unstable and educational progress shall continue to be retarded; but this must not be so for a country that is virtually ready to take a plunge into a world of science and technology.
  • Inadequate Classroom Accommodation: in a majority of Nigeria secondary schools, the classroom accommodation is grossly inadequate. As a result of the large enrollments in these schools, the classrooms are usually overcrowded, with up to sixty or more students receiving instructions in classroom designed for only thirty or, forty students. In most cases, the chairs and desk are not enough; you see them sharing chairs, standing up, or sitting on windows or broken desk! When students are overcrowded like this, there is a stalling of the teaching-learning process and a disruption of the children’s mental activity, „a situation that generally militates against effective teaching and intellectual development the children.
  • Poorly Equipped Libraries, Laboratories And Subject Rooms: For effective teaching and learning, well equipped laboratories and subject rooms are needed; but the truth is that a major of Nigerian secondary schools today lack these essential facilities. Many schools and colleges have buildings that the call libraries, but most of these are not equipped with essential books and current journals and magazines. Also, many schools and colleges do not have science laboratories while a good number of those that have, do not possess the basic tolls or equipment as microscopes, dissecting instruments and specimens. Also, many schools do have “special rooms for teaching such basic subjects as history, geography and French. In such a situation as this, the teachers cannot put in their best; and the students, too, cannot teaching-learning process is stalled and the overall development of the children, within the school system is retarded.
  • Scarcity and Prohibitive Cost of Book: Again, SAP and FEM have adversely affected the production, distribution and cost of books in Nigeria. The implication of a weak Naira for the book production/distribution industry is that the production cost of each book would be higher than before. It does not matter whether the books are imported or produced locally. If imported, the cost of buying them in Europe or America and the cost of transporting them to Nigeria would be very high. If they are printed locally (i.e. in Nigeria), the cost of importing raw materials (paper, ink a related printed materials) would still be high, shooting up the overall production In either case, therefore, the unit cost of every school or college book in Nigeria is high; and many titles are out of print. The resulted are a dearth of essential books for teaching and learning in Nigeria educational institutions and prohibitive cost of the ones available. Again, this factor militates against effective teaching and learning and the overall development of the Nigerian education system.
  • Poor Preparation and Malpractices: Experts in the education sector has been able to identify examination malpractices with poor preparation of students for an examination, and lack of self confidence. In view of the rising costs of education (school fees, enrollment fees, cost of books and other material student and even their parents will not ordinarily want to be held back by any form of deficit or failure in any6 of the required subjects, hence will go to any length to ensure success. In some cases, some teachers at the secondary school level are involved by way of encouraging student to contribute money (cooperation fees) in order to secure the needed assistance during such examinations because they, the teachers are left with no other alternative considering the fact that they are aware of the inadequate preparation of their students as well as the lack of facilities to get them properly prepared before examination. (Omofonmwan, 2001).
  • Exploitation and Educational Standard: A close assessment of activities in schools have revealed that, students are made to suffer undue amount of exploitation by school heads at both private and public schools in the name of enrollment fees and assurances of success in their examination and this they do in collaboration with the ministry officials who are supposed to inspect and monitor activities in school to ensure standard compliance. Despite the fact that most of the schools lack basic learning facilities and a complete set of teachers, in some cases, a school with the services of an English Language teacher will lack that of a Mathematics teacher. This is the more reason why one may not have the gut to quarry the mass promotion syndrome being practice in schools because the system itself in not balanced. In like manner, students are being surcharged in a number of ways in tertiary institution either in the name of dues that are not accounted for, force purchase of reading and other learning materials are exorbitant rate or on services of which staff are being paid for as assigned responsibility and official provision made by the respective institution. All these lead to lowering of the academic ability of student.
  • Poor Parenting/Guidance: Parenting entails caring, protection, guidance, provision of basic needs for a child up keep in order for him or her to be properly equipped to meet with the challenges of life, in accordance with the laws of the land. In desperation, many parents have decided to bring in additional innovation by way of not only involve in encouraging, but also finance activities in and around examination venues to effect malpractices in order to brighten the chance of their children or ward in qualifying examination to higher institutions and some even progress on this act through the tertiary level of education. Interview with two sets of university students from various department engaged in clustered group discussion revealed that their parents influence over their choice course of study has negative effect on their level of performance.

What Problems Characterize Primary and Secondary Education in Nigeria in the 21st Century

  • Poverty and fall in Standard: Acquisition of education knowledge is supposed to help us fight against poverty, ignorance and disease. The process of acquiring this well desired knowledge has gradually turned money spinning venture for many of those in dire need of the knowledge and skill. It is not a source of exploitation from the service seekers with little or no consideration for quality of service rendered and facilities on ground, and made an offer for the highest bidder. A trend which has cut across all levels of education, from nursery school to tertiary institution. The concept, “poverty”, refers to a situation and process of serious deprivation or lack of resources and materials necessary for living within a minimum standard conducive for human dignity and well being (NEST, 1992:16). Admission and being in school today is merely an ability to pay what is demanded in monetary terms by school operators and not on what could be offered academically. And this in essence widens the scope of poverty prevalence as well as the gap between the rich and the poor which education is designed to bridge. Little wonder why graduates from many of the institution exhibits ignorance toward society realities and lack of creativity, due to the inadequacies associated with the learning and training process which is also observed to be partly because many of those that offer this service do so with greed.
  • Procurement and Servicing of Equipment: A majority of the educational institution in the country demanded in monetary terms by school operators and not on what could be offered academically. And this in essence widens the scope of poverty prevalence as well as the gap between the rich and the poor which education is designed to bridge. Little wonder why graduates from many of the institution exhibits ignorance towards society realities and lack of creativity, due to the inadequacies associated with the learning and training process which is also observed to be party because many of those that offer this service do so with greed.
  • The problems of relating the curricula to national manpower needs: One major aspect of Nigeria educational that has been quite often criticized is the curriculum. Today, all educational authorities in Nigeria are aware of the pressing need to relate our curricula, at all levels of education, to our national manpower needs. Conferences on Curriculum Development and the utterances of renown professors of education and government officials are a proof of the people’s awareness, of this major flow in our educational system and of the pressing need for reforms at all levels of education. And currently the Nigeria National Policy on Education emphasizes the need to relate school curricula to national manpower needs.
  • The Prevalence of Multiples Systems of Education: Another major problem of educational development in Nigeria today is the prevalence of multiple systems of education. As of today there are thirty-one systems of education in the country: the national system, or Federal (Abuja) system, and the thirty one state systems. Each education system is unique, backed up by the Federal or State Education Laws. In a situation like this, uniformity is virtually impossible and his has the potential for disrupting the education of the children of Federal staff moving from one part of the country to the other. However, the gap that this multiple systems could create, particularly at the senior secondary school level could be closed or narrowed by the existence of a common curriculum and the influence of a common external examining body.

This writer believes that the national education system should supersede the State systems. In other words, the nation (the Federal Government) should set a standard, a pattern of operation to be adopted by all the states, the present system whereby each state followed its own way, particularly in the operation of the primary and secondary schools in the various states. This is because each state system is independent in this area of academic activity. Thus, there is no central examining body to organize a joint School Leaving Certificate Examination for children in the final year classes of the primary and junior secondary schools, as the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) does for the senior secondary school leavers.

What Problems Characterize Primary and Secondary Education in Nigeria in the 21st Century

Conclusion

In conclusion, one can we summarized that all the characterized problems of both primary and secondary education in Nigeria anchors on inadequate funding. Adequate funding is always important for any kind of sector to prosper, and carry out its functions effectively. If you mention the quality of education in these schools without considering adequate funding, you are simply building castles in the air. The budgetary allocation towards education in Nigeria has been very low, despite of the strategic role of this sector in the training of manpower for the development of the economy. Tertiary education has been receiving the lion share of allocation amongst the three levels of education. This simply implies that the remaining amount is divided between primary and secondary education. Apart from this, the low allocation of secondary education is being threatened by the high enrollment due to increase in population and interest in secondary education.

Therefore, the fact that there are inadequate and inefficient infrastructural facilities derails effective teaching and learning in schools. For a qualified and skillful teacher or a facilitator to effectively instill necessary skills and knowledge, there must be certain incentives in regard to appropriate and quality facilities. Many schools in Nigeria are facing a challenge of inadequate infrastructure and facilities. This challenge affects the fulfillment of educational objectives as teachers are subjected to deplorable learning conditions. Hence;

  • Government and the private sector should pull in more effort and resources towards the development of education.
  • Educating and re-orientation of teachers, parents and students on the need to discourage examination malpractice in schools.
  • More vocational and technical education centres be establish and the few existing ones property equipped and staffed.
  • An independent inspectorate committee should be put in place to regularly monitor activities in schools as the existing inspectorate unit has seize to function effectively.
  • Government should take over payment of enrollment fees for both primary six examinations and secondary schools external examination.
  • Qualitative and affordable education by made available for all
  • Schools should be properly staffed and equipped.
  • Applicants seeking job replacement irrespective of grades obtained and institution attendee should be given fair and equal opportunity to compete for placement.
  • More modern learning aids such as computers, internet Web sites facilities, overhead projectors, firms etc should be provided in schools.
  • Online registration being introduced now for school e3xamination enrollment, by the Nation Examination Body should be encouraged; this will reduce the exploitative tendency by school.
  • Review of school curricula for promoting relevant learning and extra-curricular activities.
  • Quality assurance in terms of class size, number of teachers and instructional material.

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