Last year results of National Examination Council (NECO) and West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) have opened our eyes once again to the steady decline in quality of education in Nigeria. The summary of the results revealed that, of the total number of students that sat for NECO examinations, less than two percent of the students passed while 25 percent of students passed WAEC.
Education experts, public analysts and other stakeholders in the sector have adduced many reasons for the decline. These include funding, incessant policy somersaults, decaying infrastructure, lack of research, lack of quality of teachers, dwindling academic staff, disappearing libraries, and students’ attitude to studies, among others.
Amongst this plethora of issues, the issues of funding, lack of quality teachers and dwindling academic staff have continued to directly impinge on the quality of outputs. All over the world, especially in the developed countries, teaching and medicine are the highest paid professions. These countries acknowledge the value of education, are committed to it and have followed it up with affirmative action through funding and good pay for teachers.
The role of education for sustainable development is in controvertible. It is not in doubt that the Asian miracle (catapulted from third world to first world) has been due, in no small measure, to massive investment in education. Some scholars have argued that the decline in education in Nigeria is not funding, neither is it with the system, but on the quality of teachers who train the students.
Of course, funding has increased considerably from 166.6 billion in 2006 to 220.9 billion in 2008 and 259 billion in 2010, without corresponding increase in output quality. Recurrent expenditure has also increased substantially in 2008 and 2009 to N168.6 billion and N184.6 billion respectively.
The debate is not about the increment but on the rate of inflation over the years. Even, then, the more pertinent question is whether the current funding is sufficient to tackle new educational challenges that are emerging. How can we cope in this era of globalization, if all we appropriate to education is just about six or seven per cent of the total budget?
Education is a system with sub-systems where neglect in one part affects the whole system. Teachers have been grossly neglected with dire effect on teachers’ morale and its consequence -low quality of education. That a good number of teachers lack commitment and motivation is evident in the products. The government has not demonstrated enough commitment to invest in teachers’ cost, their maintenance cost and their recognition. The inability of government to meet the motivational needs of the teachers has led to massive brain drain across the academic circle.
How many of our teachers are given or have been given national awards? How many of them are accorded the kind of recognition given to celebrities, winners of reality shows, and football players etc?
Teachers are not provided with an enabling environment to do their work efficiently and effectively. Most departments in the universities are under-staffed and the teacher/ student ratio is high. Amongst those employed, some do not have offices. The workload is too much on the teachers especially, lecturers. A cursory observation of lecturer’s activities will reveal tasks such as consulting libraries, internet to have an up to date information on the particular teaching subject, conducting research to improve practice, writing articles and books for publication so as to gain promotion, teaching the courses allotted; conducting continuous assessment, marking and recording them; setting examinations for those courses; loading the scores into the university’s central examination data board; attending seminars, conferences and workshops, most of the time from their personal pockets; acting as cohort advisers and parents and supervising students’ projects and theses etc.