Making Education a Priority by Temitayo Olofinlua
I have a dream: of a Nigeria where quality education is not only affordable but available; of an education system that produces students that will transform the nation; an education that is beyond a degree but towards the development of complete humans. I dream of a “revived” education system.
I wake up to a nightmare, to an education system in a coma: some primary schools under trees; secondary schools students failing WAEC en masse; closed public universities. How can my dream become a reality? How can we revive our education system?
I wish I could place the “burden of revival” on one set of shoulders; I wish I could say that just parents, or just teachers or just the government can revive it. Transforming the education system is hard work. Reviving education should be priority for all: students, teachers, parents, governments, education bodies.
What should students do? Students must take education more seriously. Getting a degree should not be the priority. It should be more about becoming better students, better humans. What does your education do to you? How does it influence you to change your world?
What should teachers do? Teachers should be more passionate about their jobs. It is passion that transforms a teacher into a nurturer. A classroom is not just a place where exams are written; it should be the incubator where leaders are made.
What should parents do? It is not enough to pay school fees. No longer should money that should be spent on books be spent on toys; no longer should your child’s homework be left undone; no longer should a child that should have a pencil in her hand have a tray on her head hawking. Parents should supervise their children’s education.
What should government do? Education should take priority in the national budget. Private schools should be regulated and monitored. Policies that enhance quality education should be adopted and executed. The government has a big role to play in reviving education from this coma.
What can education bodies, pressure groups and Non-Governmental Organisations do? Pressure groups—like the NUT, ASUU, SSANU, ASUP, NASU*—should truly fight for education. They should ask the right questions: why are our curriculums still stuck in the past? Why are there not enough facilities in our institutions? They are the ones that should nurture this ailing system to life again.
I wish this essay was a magic wand to transform the Nigerian education system. I wish that with these words my 13 year-old neighbour’s child in JSS 1 will be able to spell Mathematics; or that our higher institutions become research hubs with innovations that can change the world; or that many Nigerians would be able to afford quality education; or that it would turn teachers into true builders of the future.
Yet, this essay or magic will not solve the problem of education in Nigeria; it will not revive this sleeping giant from years of sleep. We all have to wake up to our roles…we all need to wake up to the business of reviving the education system. It starts by making education our priority.