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Pondering Education Quality in Nigeria

The constant discussion about education in Nigeria is its deplorable state. Clearly, particularly with government-owned schools, quality has declined sharply and the institutions are falling below standards.

Many issues have been highlighted as the cause of this. A primary consideration is the continued shortage of funding for education. Government allocations and budgetary expenditure have consistently fallen short of the global standard. But is that quite the only problem?

At the Foundation Lecture in 2016, Oby Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education under the Obasanjo administration, made critical analysis of other contributing factors. She noted in her keynote address that funding was not necessarily the major drawback in education quality.

“When I was the Minister of Education, we discovered that the more the funding for education, the less the success rate by students. That shows the issue was not funding. We also discovered that Nigeria was falling back on enrolment whether primary, secondary, or tertiary. We found out that 61 million children of primary school age do not have access to education globally, while an estimated 10.5 million of the population are Nigerians. This figure was 3.6 million more in 2015 than it was in year 2000. It is because of these statistics that Nigeria was unable to achieve the Millennium Development Goal for Education.”

According to Ezekwesili, Nigeria's education suffers as a result of many other factors including poor teacher quality, incomplete curriculum, ethical gap, policy inconsistency among others challenges that must be confronted headlong. When these factors are tackled, Nigeria's education issues will definitely improve.

However, has Nigeria decided collectively on what quality education truly means?

Quality education is truly nothing until the expected end has been defined. As much as we work to put things in place for a seamless process, the end determines the success of the education process. As we begin to work assiduously towards achieving quality in the education of Nigerians, we must consider that every input - teacher quality, infrastructure, funding for research, school enrolment, technical development, skills acquisition, among others - must be relatively determined to achieve a common end.

We must therefore determine what each learner must be able to do at the end of each level of education.

Quality education is the empowerment of learners through knowledge acquisition to be productive, and able to sustain themselves mentally, socially, economically, make substantial contributions to the improvement of their families, and play fundamental roles in developing the community. This should be the goal of education in Nigeria. Therefore, the constant question that we must ponder in any intervention towards better quality in education should be thus: "How does this intervention improve the ability of the learner to make a good living, and contribute meaningfully to society's development?"

This is why Nigerians must collectively and actively decide what the general (and maybe specific), basic outcome of education at every level should be. It not only allows us determine what inputs to make, but helps determine when we are falling below expectations and need to make adjustments.

Without a generally expected outcome in view, it remains difficult to truly determine the quality our education possesses at this material time. There is no better time than now to set forth the indices of quality in education.


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