THE fact that the state of Education in Nigeria today is faulty cannot be over-emphasized. For over a decade, the phrase “half baked” has become a phenomenon in the description of the graduates turned out at various levels of the Nigerian tertiary institutions.
THE level of competitiveness and international rating of Nigeria’s university system today is reflected in the publication of world ranking of universities that is usually done once in a year about the month of June. This year’s edition reveals that no Nigerian universities were chosen among the 500 topmost universities in the world, not one.
MOST of the universities from Africa that feature are either from South Africa or eastern Africa. Also, among the 100 topmost universities in Africa, only four Nigerian universities feature. These are Obafemi Awolowo University which ranked 44, University of Ibadan, 65, University of Benin, 73 and University of Lagos
THE half baked students/graduates, as Nigerian graduates are popularly tagged, we must say are products of a process. Baking is a process and the end point or result is determined by the person who bakes that is the baker. Studies have shown that the scenario surrounding the phenomenon called “half baked graduates” is an all encompassing one, involving the graduates who represent the bread that is half baked, the oven which are the educational institutions primary schools to tertiary levels, the bakers who are the lecturers and other educational institution management teams, the proprietors of the educational institutions and the government at various levels, and finally the bakery, that is the Nigerian Educational system.
LIKE the state of the nation Nigeria, the educational sector is laden with multi- faceted problems that have defied solution. The unfortunate aspect which may not give room to any meaningful solution to the problem on our hands is the commercialization of education. The Federal Government surprisingly permits random establishment of private universities when the Federal and State owned ones are decaying due to ill funding and mismanagement.
THIS portends great danger for the Nigerian populace, especially the youths. If over a decade into the millennium age, Nigerian graduates do not have industry ready skills, then it is not wrong to conclude that our educational institutions are largely incompetent and unprepared to contribute their quota to the development of the nation and the world at large. University institutions are supposed to be basically institutions for research. This cannot be said of the Nigerian institutions which are more of schools for teaching rather than centres of research.
WHAT is of importance to most Nigerian students today is the procurement of certificate as a ladder to the future height they aimed at. The process of getting the certificates is neglected at the expense of the skill these certificates are designed to give back to the society. The reason for this is the fact that the Nigerian society has peculiar characteristic of laying undue emphasis on paper certification which has caused a misplaced priority on the part of students and parents.
THE breed of lecturers in the nation’s tertiary institutions are also products of the same education who would only give what they have. Therefore the highest lecturers could give under this situation will be limited. Most times bold faces, harassment, abuse and intimidation become the pattern of relationship between students and lecturers. Also little is expected of students whose lecturers miss consecutive classes only to show up two weeks to examinations and teach in two weeks what was meant to be taught in three months.
THIS is not to say that we do not have lecturers who sound scholars instead of finding ways to make ends meet under the peculiar Nigerian situation of the survival of the richest.
ANOTHER problem affecting educational standard is the attitude of students and lecturers towards reading and research. The handout syndrome is a way of getting round poverty which is the order of the day in institutions. Research is therefore limited to obeying the lecturers by purchasing their books/handouts while students are left with the quest for knowledge, because in some extreme cases, grades are based on the purchasing power of students.
NIGERIANS should be ready to look for solution to these problem. The government must increase the funds of our academic institutions and take deliberate steps to engage people who have the capacity to run the sector there. Approving private universities may not be the solution to our problems. It is a known fact that the private universities are also in serious difficulties. Most academia in private universities are burdened with far more teaching than they ought to carry. The schools are poorly built and hardly have facilities for research. Parents are unfortunately confusing the issue of no strike in private universities as evidence that they are doing well.
ACADEMICS are discouraged by the Federal Government’s attitude towards research. Federal Government should challenge university intellectuals in finding solutions to national problems, instead of giving these challenges to outsiders and external consultants. It is so ridiculous that in most cases Nigerians interact with these external consultants because they know their abilities. It is high time internal skills are trusted. This will go a long way in building the confidence and hard work in the areas of research will not be buried in the belly of the researchers.
FACTORS like good curriculum, access to up-to-date information, funding, competition and sound infrastructure among others, combine to make a good university system that is capable of producing the drivers of a sophisticated and developed economy.
THE resultant effect of a relative poor remuneration which has led to incessant closure of universities, strikes and academic curricula with little or no link with international practices, among others, has only succeeded in sending the country’s strong academia in search of greener pastures in developed countries leaving the education system worse and out of tune with the global requirement.
THE Hope opines that the way out from the menace of “half baked graduates” is a desirable task that all must be involved in, that is; the government, parents, proprietors of educational institutions and the students themselves must make concerted effort to change their perspective towards education.
EDUCATION remains a reliable sector of development to any nation. To neglect this important sector is building a monster that will consume such society. It is therefore very expedient that all must wake up to the duty of making the Nigerian Universities, centres of academic excellence.