Repositioning Nigerian education for productivity and progress

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Nigerian education

Responding to an online question whether they could sell their B.Sc. Certificates for hundred-million-naira, many Nigerian respondents answered yes. Some funny respondents offered to include their primary, secondary, future and PhD certificates for the buyer. Without discovering its purpose, a beautiful knife believes it was meant for decoration, and will not get sharp. Without discovering their purpose, humans believe they are meant for eating, earning, mating and bragging, and would not develop themselves. Unless Nigerian education is evaluated and reordered to have social impact, it may remain a joke.

Education is the act of acquiring knowledge, or process designed “to give knowledge to or develop the abilities of somebody by teaching.”[1] Progressive societies teach their citizens to collaborate peacefully in managing the human and natural resources in their environment for social wellbeing. This is because the society’s sustenance is guaranteed by the ability of citizens to produce what they consume and TOOLS FOR THE PRODUCTION.[2] Hence, the role of education is to prepare citizens to utilize their human and natural resources for common good.[3] In summary, education helps people to understand themselves, relate well with other people and utilize resources for common good.


Unfortunately, Nigerian education seem disconnected from the Nigerian reality, and not having a true impact on the society. In Nigeria, it is observed that a professor of agriculture does not have nor work in a farm; a professor of physics is a miracle-professing pastor by day and traditional diviner at night, without physics’ solution to problems in Nigeria; a professor of mechanical engineering has never designed a real engine, or worked on an old one; a professor of philosophy does not know his people’s cultural influences and thoughts, but knows those of Greece and Rome; many Nigerian students know more about American and European history than they know of Nigerian history.


Nigeria was created by British colonialists who brutally yoked several unconsented communities and kingdoms under a militarized federal government. Using the same military force, the government confiscates and auctions different communities’ mineral resources to foreigners.[4][5][6] The foreigners then utilize the mineral resources for producing goods and services which they later sell expensively to Nigerians. With the confiscation/auction of mineral resources to foreign companies, local engineers are denied access to resources for research and local productivity. Then, the politicians and cronies import and share few foreign goods and services at inflated prices as dividends of democracy.


The curriculum used in Nigerian education was adopted from the former colonial masters. The colonial interest and struggle for Nigeria’s human and natural resources did not fade with granting independence to Nigeria. Instead, the interest was carefully embedded into Nigerian education system through policies that alienate Nigerians from their mineral resources.[7] Hence, instead of studying to transform human and natural resources within their environment, Nigerians study to count, use and report imported goods and ideas.[8] “The educational system still trains people for a life style that is unavailable and unaffordable to most Nigerians… alienates the Nigerian from his environment… In contrast to our pre-colonial education, which was tied to our ways of life.”[9]


With the arbitrary restriction of access to transformable mineral resources, the demand for intellectual productivity is removed from Nigerian education. Hence, the paradigm for academic excellence changed from ability to practically transform nature, to the ability to count, administer, use or report imported goods, services and ideas. Since the imported goods and services are never enough for the huge Nigerian population, government limits the number of people who qualify through admission obstacles. This is why there are few universities, multiple tests and obstacles for limiting admission as import-sharing-qualification. The seeming attempt to limit number of high-grade graduates for import-sharing leads to education anxiety, cheating, cramming and ‘sorting’ lecturers. Thence, millions of unadmitted, frustrated youths and low-grade graduates loiter the street till they become criminals.


Repositioning Nigerian education requires an understanding of the main features of education:


  • Essence (what it is) – the essence of education is the development of an individual’s capacity for harmonized transformation of him/herself, others and environment. Each individual has some genius, and the role of education is to discover, develop and incorporate each individual’s capacity and ingenuity in the society. This includes the capacity to understand one’s own personality, limitations and potentials, the capacity to collaborate with other people and the capacity to transform natural resources into useful commodities and services in the society. Hence, footballers, artists, engineers, teachers, doctors, psychologists, social facilitators, leaders and other members of the society are all trained to develop themselves for their unique social transformation.


  • The material cause of education (how it is done): the material cause of education entails the physical processes that develop human capacity for transforming nature. This process involves two stages of INFORMATION and FORMATION, for introducing people to the objects of their education.


Information stage provides correct details about the subject-matter, while FORMATION stage provides avenue for guided contact with the subject matter. For instance, learning piano begins with getting right information about key-combinations, followed by formation of ability by constant practice on a piano. After some time of practicing right information on a piano, it becomes part of you, and you transform to a professional. If a person crams all the piano key-combinations, without playing on a real piano, he will neither verify the correctness of the information he received, nor become a real pianist. Also,  practicing a wrong and unverified information leads to deformation. But, right information passes through constant practice as formation to become transformation.


Unfortunately, Many Nigerian institutions provide information that are never verified through practice, nor ingrained by formation, thus quickly forgotten. Using the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act, Nigerian government arbitrarily seizes and auctions all Nigerian communities’ mineral resources. Thus, science subjects are made extremely difficult and unattractive by enforcing cramming of many formulas and jargons without real contact with natural resources.[10] Science is defined as the “knowledge about the structure and behaviour of the natural and physical world, based on facts that you can prove, for example by experiments.”[11] Thence, without physically encountering transformable mineral resources for experiments, Nigerian science becomes mysticism, while Nigerian scientists and engineers exemplify native doctors vomiting scientific incantations for defending their certificates without productivity.


The absence of verification and constant formation after information-overload also manifests in the arts and humanities. Many Nigerian institutions make their students cram and pour foreign-baked arts theories without creating opportunities for verification and formation. Also, due to science and technology impotence in Nigeria, there is insufficient materials for mobilizing the process of verification and formation of acquired information. Yet the suffocation with unverified and impracticable information continues in schools, lesson-centres, extramural classes and excessive homework. Thus, students are made to bury their life-passions as they compete for grades in reproducing unverified and unpractised information.


  • Efficient cause (who performs the education) – the elements of information and formation, which form the basis for education and transformation are formally administered by teachers. Though teachers take charge of education, environment and other social elements, relatives, movies, songs and religious doctrines highly influence education. However, teachers research, evaluate and organize fundamental information for students in clear and attractive ways for sustaining students’ interests. Also, they exemplify, guide and supervise the students’ practical contact with the objects of education for proper formation.


However, in Nigerian situations where teachers only got loads of untested information without practical formation or productivity, they are unable to form students for actual transformation. The inability to transform nature leads to further dependence on importation, and a disposition to maximise profits from academic institutions. Hence, some teachers and schools, especially private schools, engage in exam-malpractice and push-overs to advertise their schools and qualify their students for import-sharing. Thence, many unsupervised teachers in public schools, who were employed in favour without adequate qualification, transact their personal businesses in schools.


  • Final cause (purpose of education) – the purpose of education is common good, which is an ethical responsibility of the individual for the society. Human society is formed for humans to actualize their different potentials by contributing to the society and earning from the society. Progressive societies establish proper education for almost all social endeavours and talents in the society. Hence, education is not just focused on medicine, law and engineering, but also on leadership, security, sports, music, morality, entertainment, waste-management, shoe-making, leather-works, nanny-work, modern-taxation, fine arts, fashion, religion, intimacy and other fields of human endeavour through which people contribute to common good.


Without identifying common good as the main purpose of education, people are tempted to use their developed capacities to exploit/terrorize the society. The absence of agreement between the different brutally merged ethnic groups and communities for collaborative productivity and common good in Nigeria turned Nigerians against one another, thereby promoting individual survival against common good. Hence, different manifestations of intelligence, that could combine to deliver Nigeria from unproductivity and extreme import-dependency, now clash against one another in the struggle for imported goods.

Repositioning Nigerian education requires a reorganisation of the Nigerian society according to its constituent communities, to reflect the need for generating original ideas, products and services. Without a defined role and provision for applying Nigerian education in developing the human and mineral resources within the distinguished communities, it remains ineffective. The first step in redirecting Nigerian education is to distinguish and redefine the Nigeria’s component communities and mode of collaboration in a new form of government and constitution, as different from Europe’s colonial definition. The different kingdoms and communities will retrieve access to their lands and onshore mineral resources in order to produce commodities and pay tax to the central government. Human knowledge moves from particular to general, and if we do not distinguish and understand the parts of our society, and how they can link and function together productively, we may never understand or get a functional and multi-cultural society.

This is necessary to set a decentralized foundation for education based on the people’s environment and culture, instead of making lopsided cut-off marks that institutionalizes mediocrity in Nigeria. This is also necessary to allow the different sections in Nigeria to develop their educational sector from their productivity according to their desire or non-desire for education. When the people know that they are free to own and manage their own resources, they will improve their labour-force through good education, instead of embracing mediocrity.


Other steps that will follow after the distinction of the constituent communities and their specific resources include:

  • Validating and retraining teachers for realistic productivity, and not just repetition of foreign curriculum. Thence, awarding higher degrees will be based on productivity and local reality, instead of just consistency with foreign academic traditions. Also, graduates could be given opportunities to validate their qualifications through further studies and post practical examinations.


  • Improving the working and living condition of teachers with more practical resources, providing them with opportunities to improve themselves and their students’ intellectual capacity. This will encourage intelligent people to take the teaching career more seriously than it is done now in the country.


  • Facilitating the creation of more primary, secondary and tertiary schools with improved methodology and curriculum in all local governments around the country to diversify training of different capacities. Individuals, communities and companies will be encouraged to create more schools using diverse forms of education-methodologies for specific professions and contributions. Increasing the number of schools will reduce the overcrowding lecture halls and schools that do not take students seriously, since they have very large crowd. Also, the teachers can interact and know their students individually, instead of seeing thousands of people they may never recognize afterwards.


  • Reducing the number of examinations students must take to be admitted in affordable tertiary institutions. Reducing the price of those exams and extending their validity period beyond one academic session to two or three. Jamb and other other academic bodies are not to be profit ventures, and thus, will reflect in the subsidy for quality education at all levels.


  • Teaching simply explained mathematics and basic English communication skills to Nigerians at different levels through various simplified mediums. This includes organizing subsidized adult education centres, academic video-games, online tutorials, public school enrollment drives, radio/television and even religious programs for teaching basic communication skills. Thence, every Nigerian will be able to speak both English and his local language. This is necessary to form a background upon which Nigerians can dialogue and contribute ideas for the society. It also instills the emotional preconditions for having cordial and productive communications in a society.


  • Using movies, social gatherings, songs and other mediums to demonstrate our common humanity and social responsibility, despite ethnic differences. This stage encourages Nigerians to meet and physically interact with one another as humans; to feel the joy, pain, suffering and humanity of one another in playgrounds, cinemas, open-air festivals, carnivals and games. This is necessary to demonstrate common good as the purpose for which humans form a society and educate themselves. Also, talented people in these areas will show their potentials and will be enrolled for proper training.


  • Using maps, videos and phone applications to teach basic geography so that Nigerians can understand their environment and how they link with other places within and beyond Nigeria.


  • Encouraging communities to involve experts/safety-teams in exploring and studying the natural resources within their environments for possible productivity. This is necessary for people to know and appreciate the resources within their environment, even for future use.


  • Introducing people to possible products derivable from different natural resources, within or outside their communities. This is necessary to elicit curiosity and identify people’s productive interests and demonstrated potentials.


  • Using videos, games, workshops and other medium to demonstrate the level of interpersonal and intercommunal collaboration for processing natural resources in the production of goods and services. This is necessary to encourage industrial collaboration, inter-communal trade and social responsibility.


  • Linking the initial phases of infrastructural installations and development with different Nigerian universities. With this, Nigerian undergraduates and graduates will learn the technology by working with foreign companies who agree to teach Nigerians technology. This will serve as an avenue to retrain Nigerian engineers for productivity, and also incorporate the highly-experienced artisans who could not afford university education. Also, students on holiday will be attached to different companies for apprenticeship and small allowance.


  • Using the same foreign-local collaboration to install production centres, academic institutions and banks in Nigerian communities who submit verified reports of their transformable natural resources. Hence, government will collaborate with their local investors and entrepreneurs to fund and own shares in the production activities within the communities. Foreign investors may also be allowed to fund and own shares in communities’ economic activities after proper negotiations.


In conclusion, Nigerian education is yet to position for impacting Nigeria positively. Some people say we have an expired curriculum, while others blame poverty, greed and other factors for the divorce between Nigerian education and reality. However, the main cause is the disrupted social order restricting natives from their mineral resources for demonstrating knowledge, and thus, pitching them against one another in a struggle for imported resources. To reposition Nigerian education for social impact, Nigerian Kingdoms and communities will negotiate to distinguish themselves and their resources, before learning how to develop and combine these resources for advanced productivity.


[1] Microsoft® Encarta® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

[2] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, YouWin: government’s MMM abi lottery, obtained on 16th August 2017.

[3] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, Nigeria is not interested in your education.

[4] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[5] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[6] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[7] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[8] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, Restartnaija videos, episode 13.

[9] Ogban Ogban-Iyam, Re-Inventing Nigeria through Pre-colonial Traditions In Issues in contemporary political economy of Nigeria.edited by Hassan A. Saliu. (Ilorin: T.A. Olayeri press, 1999). P73

[10] Cf. Kaku Michu, The worst day of my life, YouTube interview

[11] Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, New 8th Edition, International Student’s Edition