“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” The importance of education to a nation can not be over emphasized, in most parts of the world education is regarded as a fundamental human right. Education is one of the basic criteria to measure the growth and development of any nation.
Sadly the level, quality and standard of education in Nigeria has witnessed a geometric drop in the past two decades and this unfortunate trend has made Nigeria the leading country of origin of students from Africa migrating to other parts of the world in search of quality education.
This fall in standard has been attributed to a number of factors which will be duly highlighted in this article. Out of the numerous problems facing education in Nigeria, the following are the major challenges:
1. POOR FUNDING
Education in Nigeria is overseen by the Ministry Of Education. Local authorities take responsibility for implementing policy for state-controlled public education and state schools at a regional level. This makes funding of education basically a governmental affair.
Due to the long existing high level of corruption in all levels of government, education in Nigeria has always suffered inappropriate funding which has led to poor infrastructure, absence of good teaching aids, and non payment of teachers allowances.
Also, a sharp decline in crude oil prices which is the major source of government revenue has plummeted the country into a recession which has led to severe cuts in government spending, further worsening the poor funding situation of Nigeria’s education system.
This has led to strike actions, school closure and massive students protests all over the country. The financial crisis also dried up scholarship funds for foreign study, placing constraints on international student flow from Nigeria.
2. UNAVAILABILITY OF QUALIFIED TEACHERS:
In Nigeria, the poor working condition, poor remuneration and allowances the teachers are subjected to have discouraged capable and qualified teachers from taking up teaching jobs, they rather apply for other better paying jobs than teaching, while the few teachers who have taken up the teaching profession did so due to lack of better jobs, hence, their low level of dedication as they are always on the look out for greener pastures.
This directly affects output as the quality of education is drastically reduced by this menace.
3. LACK OF CONTINUOUS TRAINING FOR TEACHERS:
Adequate measures are not taken by the ministry of education to ensure that every teacher undergoes a continuous periodic training program to keep them in tune with modern practices and also help to remodel their interrelationship with their students and the student’s guardians.
4. FAILURE TO ACCOMMODATE THE RISING POPULATION DEMANDS:
The total population of Nigeria as at independence stands at 45.2 million, but this isn’t the case now as the country has witnessed an astronomical rise in it’s population.
As at 2015, Nigeria’s population was estimated to be 182.2 million, this is a major problem for the country as the education system have not been able to fully enroll its rapidly rising population.
For instance, Nigeria’s basic education sector is overburdened by strong population growth. In 2015, the country’s population under the age of 15 was about 44 percent. The system fails to integrate large parts of this growing youth population.
According to the United Nations, 8.73 million elementary school- aged children in 2010 did not participate in education at all, most of which were the almajiri children. They constitute the largest group of out-of- school children in Nigeria. These boys are sent to Qur’anic teachers to receive an Islamic education, which includes vocational or apprenticeship training.
Some are involved in street begging. The Ministry of Education estimated that there were 9.5 million almajiri children in the northern part of the country in 2010, making Nigeria the country with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world.
The net enrollment rate at the elementary level was 63.8 percent compared to a global average of 88.8 percent. This low rate of enrollment to basic education in Nigeria has further increased illiteracy level in Nigeria.
The country in 2015 had a youth literacy rate of 72.8 percent and an adult literacy rate of 59.6 percent compared to global rates of 90.6 percent and 85.3 percent in 2010 respectively (data reported by the World Bank).
5. LOW UNIVERSITY ADMISSION CAPACITY:
According to the statistics JAMB provides on its website, In 2015, only 415,500 out of 1.428,379 applicants were admitted to university.
The admission crisis is one of Nigeria’s biggest challenge in higher education, due to the growing youth population.
Nigeria’s system of education presently leaves over a million qualified university admission applicant without access to university education on an annual basis. This tends to slow down economic growth as only a few educated professionals are available in the country, it also leads to brain drain.
6. ACADEMIC FRAUD, CORRUPTION AND INDISCIPLINE:
In Nigeria, there have been numerous reports of corruption and indiscipline in Nigeria’s education system, most especially in the higher institutions where cases of cultism in schools have been on the rise as well as bribery to pass exams.
Academic fraud is endemic at all levels of education. Other forms of academic misconducts that has plagued the Nigerian education system ranges from cheating during examinations to more serious inglorious acts such as impersonation, falsifying academic records, paying for grades or certificates with gifts, money or sexual favours, terrorising examiners and assaulting invigilators e.t.c.
7. POOR STANDARD OF LIVING AND BAD GOVERNANCE:
The issue of bad governance associated with most African countries with Nigeria inclusive has also affected the growth of education in Nigeria as the continous bad governance has also increased the level of poverty in the country.
Many impoverished parents are unable to send their wards to school due to the hardship and inability to meet up with the school fees. Also, the government hasn’t been able to fully deliver on its promises of free basic education to its citizens.
8. POLITICIZATION EDUCATION:
In Nigeria, politicization of education is another problem. In some institutions, cases where tribal and political affiliations influences admission and employment processes have been reported.
This is not a good precedence as it denies those who are duly qualified employment opportunities or opportunity to study. These and many more are the challenges facing the education system in Nigeria. The above problems if properly tackled will help set the Nigerian educational system on the right track.