The Role of Education in National Development
Education is the heart of national development and the source of quality human capital development that will propel Nigeria to be among the top 20 economies in the world (President Jonathan, 2011.) “The quality of our workforce is a direct reflection of the quality of our schooling system” (President Jonathan 2010). The above quotations underscore the fundamental importance Nigeria attaches to education as a vital instrument for national development.
Since Nigeria got her political independence in 1960, she has demonstrated her commitment to education as a tool for personal and national development. In her effort to see education as a vehicle for national development, Nigeria fashioned out the National Policy on Education as part of the post independent Pan-African educational reforms in the early 1960s.
Educational reform was then seen an essential ingredient of the nation-building efforts of the newly independent states of Africa. (Idris Wada, 2013). Nigeria also conducted a National Curriculum Conference in 1969 to change the existing education system which had become irrelevant and inappropriate to national needs, aspirations and goals. (National Policy on Education: 1977). Since then, there have been several other educational reforms all aimed at making the Nigerian educational system more relevant to nation-building and growth.
The primary objective of education is to produce good and useful citizens that will be instrumental to socio-economic development of their countries. The teacher therefore, is very vital in the socio- economic and political engineering of any country that wants to develop.
Education to a large extent has contributed immensely to national development in the following ways:
- The educational system provides the needed manpower for national development. It is believed that an educated polity or nation is one that has enough manpower and each person occupies his or her rightful position to enhance national growth. (Afolabi and Loto 2010:340). Education, as an indisperable tool, imbues in the citizens and assists nations in meeting their political, moral, cultural and economic aspirations. Education imparts in the individual knowledge, skills, dexterity, character and desirable values that will precipitate and galvanize national development and self-actualization. The implication of the above is that education moulds and trains the individual to be useful in the society and contribute positively to national development. This is what is obtainable in advanced political systems with quality educational system like US, Britain, France and even Singapore, South Korea etc. The quality of a nation’s education determines the level of its national development. This is why all governments (civil and military) in Nigeria since 1960 have demonstrated commitment to education. How far these commitments have achieved their objectives is a different matter.
- Another contribution is the production of political, social-economic, medical experts and other essential specialists that are key to policy making national development.
- Education also permits social and group relationship. Through education, individuals are trained to relate and interact with others in the society and appreciate the importance of human inter connectivity to enable them accomplish common goals and achieve national unity. Schools bring people of different cultural and religious background together and succeed in integrating them to realize common objectives e.g. Universities, National Assembly, national institutions etc, with minimum friction.
- Through education, the culture of productivity is promoted by enabling individuals to discover and unlock their latent creative potentials in them and apply same to improve efficiency of their personal and societal efforts.
- Education teaches good values to the citizens which make them good and useful citizens in the society. Such values include; honesty, selflessness, dedication, patriotism, national integrity, hard work etc. These are qualities of good leadership which are grossly lacking in Nigeria.
Impediments to Education and Development in Nigeria
For about two decades after independence, Nigeria maintained high qualitative educational standards and indirectly a positive development index. Teachers exerted to train their pupils and were highly regarded by society. Graduates of Nigerian Universities were highly sought after as they excelled in graduate studies in the best Universities in the world. But from 1980s, the fabric of Nigerian education
system started to degenerate and today our school system is almost prostrate and in comatose. Primary school pupils hardly have enough seats to sit nor enough teachers. Most secondary schools hardly perform experiments or practical while tertiary institutions are poorly funded and lack infrastructure.
The Nigerian teacher is the most important educator in these institutions. Regrettably, his fortunes have been vacillated over time. Today, the erstwhile highly esteemed and respected teacher is treated essentially as the scum of the public. The Nigeria government in recent time has not sufficiently funded education to the extent of making a significant impact on the educational system.
From 1999-2015, the percentage of budgetary allocation to education has not exceeded 12 percent which is not meeting the minimum requirement Other serious challenges to the educational system include;
- Poor implementation of education policies such as the 6334 system.
- Constant change of educational policies
- Emphasis on certificates and status
- Inadequate infrastructures
- Improper implementation of ICT program in schools
- Inadequate supervision of educational institutions (public and private).
- Politicization of education in Nigeria to suit the interests of policy makers.
- Inequity in reward system
- Lack of synergy between theory and practice
- Lack of commitment to national objectives