Sunday, March 12, 2017

Opinion: The North Is The Reason Nigerian Education Is Backward!


It’s no longer news that global competitiveness rating of Nigerian universities have plummeted of recent.

The latest of such exercises revealed that no Nigerian university is anywhere near the first 500 top universities in the world.

But like some kind of consolation, the only Nigerian university on the long list is the University of Ibadan; and it comes in distant 801.

No doubt, the grave implications are there for all
to see especially vis-a-vis the country’s growth and development because it’s a known fact that no country can grow beyond its educational capacity.

Since the break of the bad tidings, importantly, stakeholders have at different fora and wherever opportunity avails exhaustively discussed the problem, identified causes and proffered solutions.

Some of the causes cum solutions highlighted include poor funding, which experts agreed has grounded the research functions of our Ivory 
Towers leading to gross underutilization of national intellectual resources and brain drain.

For this reason, academicians are finding it difficult if not impossible to proceed on sabbatical needed for intellectual revitalization which in turn guarantee improved service delivery to their primary forte

While most of the statutory responsibilities of these universities have since become unaffordable luxuries and eternally deferred.

Another is the need for universities to have some form autonomy for effective operations which they do not have because the powers that be think otherwise...

Experts also bemoan the lack of transparency or what many called gross monetization of admission processes into Nigerian universities whereby admission have become a bazaar of sort with admission slots sold to the  highest bidders while indigent students are turned away empty handed..

There is also the lack of unified educational policy operational across the country’s North-South geopolitical and educational dichotomies.

Similarly, increased private sector participation was also strongly canvassed to compliment the efforts of governments own institutions of higher learning.

From the foregoing, it’s clear the problems are largely systemic.

If that be so, how come a problem requiring emergency systemic reinvention or overhaul be fixed by any appointive window dressing based, worse still, on quota system and other similar tangential administrative interventions and inconsistent policies.
Last year for instance, while though genuinely concerned and un-mincingly decrying the global low ranking of Nigerian universities; President Muhammadu Buhari like many of its predecessors’ ideas of solution came yet again in form of appointment of new administrative heads for both National University Commission (NUC) and National Tertiary Institution Intervention Fund (NTIIF) with clear mandate to urgently reverse the downward slide.          
It should be remembered, while not trying to detract from his good intentions, that this is the same pattern followed by previous administrations in a situation unanimously agreed to be an emergency and has yielded no meaningful results predictably.
It remains to be seen how far or what impact this recent intervention will have on the ailing system.
While genuinely or so the search for permanent solutions is on, there are other long standing fundamentals underlying the problem that will help in our appreciation of how soon the problem can be solved.
For one, it a well known fact of our national life that attitudes and sentiments towards education sharply varies across the country.
In the country South to a higher degree, education is seen as a right and necessarily pivotal to the pursuit of both individual and group multilevel emancipation and access to improved opportunity and living standard.
As such, an average southerner is more than prepared to go the full length to acquire either the minimum or maximum educational qualification required to be effective both in the highly competitive professional marketplace of today and the larger society.
A disposition, though positive and laudable, but has overtime attracted continuous scathing remarks from some wretched critics within the same socio-political space.
Can one ever forget the ‘The mad rush for certificate’ remarks credited to a notable Northern element at the realization that southerners will and can do anything for knowledge which include going to the institutions of higher learning even at great personal cost.
A sad commentary no doubt, and a case of vicious dislike for those who dare to be educationally excellent while doggedly refusing to be makeover in the pathetic image of the ignoramuses..  
 In the North on the other hand, the situation is disturbingly different .
This is a section of the country where attitude towards eduction is a direct antithesis of the South in so many respects.
Indeed, it is one characterized by both pathological indifference and minimalist expectations.
Its education sector long known to be in a state of complete disarray was again recently attested to by no other person than his royal eminence the Emir of Kano, Alhadji  Sanusi Lamido Sanusi at a public function.  
Its a long way coming!
The North it is on record has more educationally less developed states in the country where minimalist policies of different kind s are in operation since God knows when; while the rest of the country is maximally pushing all boundaries of learning and education.
In the so called educationally less developed states and indeed all the North, policies which negate national and international best practices are introduced by way of inducing students aspiring for university education.
For example, entry requirements into the university as well as primary and secondary schools are ridiculously low thereby paving the way for students who are no better candidates for technical or vocational training or somewhere down the rung of educational ladder.    
In the end, they want to sit among the very best from other parts of the country as co-equals whereas their training and qualifications are a far cry from expected standards.
The many ills of education in the North.     
The north is only place where educational facilities exist but are scarcely fully utilized.
The only place where education is free yet pupils males and females will not come to school even when governments at all levels practically go on their knees for enrolment.    
The only place where Islamic education is prized over and above the equally good if not better western education that is functionally necessary in the globalized world of today.
Which other evidence do we need to cement its inglorious place as the reason for Nigeria’s education backwardness but the existence and threat of the Boko Haram sect.
A sect which has killed and maimed thousands of people, destroyed educational facilities in the North-East because it ideologically viewed western education as a sin yet uses various high-tech gadgets like cars and computers for its operational ends in a show of blind hypocrisy and ideological paradox.      

So evidently across board, the North will always be in support of any arrangement that could lead to deliberate crash of standards especially in education arrears to accommodate its penchants for academic laziness and mediocrity.

Look no further, therefore, when the talk is on education at any levels beyond the North being the real reason for Nigeria’s backwardness.

And until there is policy unification nationally the situation will not get any better now or in the nearest future.  

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