Deterioration of the Values of the Nigerian Education
The first thing to observe about this generation of Nigerian students is how they would go to private schools all their lives, never drop out of school and never had to stay any one week out of school for financial reasons or sort, and then they would go on to write the matriculation exam only to end up not scoring even up to 200 over 400. You may want to say “but they make excellent grades in the O/Levels naw” to argue against the point I’m trying to make here; but please don’t do that now. We all know that most of the secondary schools malpractice the O/Level exams because the success of their school and how many candidates they would get the following session depends on how good the SSCE results of their current candidates are. This makes the school engage in everything possible to make sure their candidates get a lot of A’s and B’s even when they really do not deserve to get a D in any subject.
Comparing this generation of Nigerian students to any other generation of Nigerian students from the past, you would see the evidences of deterioration in the country’s education. The people who noticed this deterioration earlier on have been calling attentions to it but I guess we’ve been ignoring the facts they give. In fact, it is safe to say now that the previous generations do extremely well in their external exams and academically than this generation. I understand that the schools and the curriculum and the education system as a whole have problems that are making the students of this generation book dumb, but that is not the point I’m trying to make; I’m trying to say the older folks were motivated academically than the students of this generation, which is why even in the 90’s, students would write the matriculation exams and most of them would score almost 300 over 400. This is because with 250 over 400, you most likely would not get admitted to a university. Bear in mind that most of the 60’s and 70’s and even 80’s and 90’s literates went to public schools, but most of the literates of the 2000’s went to private schools, but yet the performances most of these young ones can’t make anyone who knows why they should do better happy.
I have not said that the students of this generation are not smart, they are, but the core of the reasons why they mostly can’t score 200 over 400 in their matriculation exam is because, apart from the fact that these people are not really motivated or challenged academically like their older folks, the smartness of the students of this generation had move from academic to other areas; these people would understand technology products, fashion, arts, etc. and they would be excellent in these areas, but when it comes to academic, they are just there as average students. Here is where the problem I intend to point out comes in; by now, the Nigerian government, the Nigerian education system and stake holders in education should be aware their new products are not doing well compared to other generations from the past, and this is mostly because as the world develops, new inventories and new areas to making a living emerge too, and the students have shifted their interests to these areas too, but the country is yet to even admit that these new situations are where the Nigerian education should start inculcating in what these students learn in school.
The Nigerian education system is still happy to be producing the kinds of SSCE holders the colonial bosses wanted it to produce—people who are good only for clerical works, and people who conform to a certain culture and ideas. The Nigerian education system can rarely produce the extraordinary students in this century. Now instead of fixing the problems, as the students’ performances in UTME for example deteriorate, the government keeps reducing the standard for defining who has passed the exam and deserves to get admitted to a higher institution; 180 over 400 in UTME is now a success compared to the fact that up to the 90’s, if you scored 250 in the matriculation exam, you most definitely wouldn’t get admitted. Meanwhile the solution is supposed to be the redevelopment of our policies on education, our curriculum and our school system. Our education philosophies, goals of the Nigerian education, the kinds of products the state needs the education system to produce need to be reviewed. It is all these that would define what the students learn in school and how they learn them, and also, the kind of exams they write and how they write them. The government and we as a society have to see already that it is not that the students of this generation are not smart or motivated enough to be excellent, but their smartness and motivation aren’t in what their parents and uncles and aunts learned in school.
The people who would come together to define what the Nigerian students should be learning in school should not be just the old professors and academic doctors who are almost illiterates of what works in the new world. The people who make policies on education should not be people who think only about the bad sides of the new massive exposure to information and have blinded themselves from the goodness of this; there must be new bottles for the new wines. In this 21st century, we cannot remain in the education of the 80’s and 90’s and be thinking we are doing well, we would only end up producing literates who only went to school to fulfill the most basic requirements of socialization, and not because they want to use what they have learned to develop themselves or the country, or the world. We can see this is happening already, people only get the school education for decoration now, not because they feel the need they would need it in developing themselves, their country and the world.