Education And Politics A Common Goal Blessing Aseminaso
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, a famous philosopher and writer, once said that “education is the soul of a society”. Reason perhaps is because as an agent of cultural transmission, it’s also a catalyst for change. Little wonder they say education, is the key to unlocking the doors of Africa.
In Nigeria, like other third world nations, the advent of western education is traceable to the coming of Christian missionaries in the colonial era, with the initial purpose of providing basic knowledge needed to read the bible.
In 1859 however, the first secondary school designed to inculcate basic norms, value, and practical skills needed to function successfully in the society was established (in the west) and with time, spread to the eastern, southern and northern regions of the country.
After independence, a number of successes and failure in the quest for increasing the quality of education for the social emancipation of citizens as well as producing basic manpower needed for economic expansion and development through the enactment of policies and struggle through series of governments were recorded.
The commitment towards the advancement of education, no doubt invoked a true understanding of its value evident in the decrease of illiteracy and ignorance, from the second half of the 20th century to the increased rate of educated citizens today, as there are hardly a global sector without a well read Nigerian.
However, the aforementioned phenomenon seems to have taken a nosedive in standard and value which has resulted in the malnutrition of our educational system.
Whereas the level of malpractice continues to assume an alarming rate, the output of school products (graduates) has yielded little or nothing to the nation in terms of development.
In the past, a good number of white collar jobs and infrastructures were set up by the government to absorb graduates into various sectors. Today, with increased level of graduates and few jobs, entrepreneurship becomes an alternative means to tackle unemployment. This is vital, but we fail to realize that the world keeps advancing scientifically, technologically, and medically on a daily basis with which Nigeria seems adrift.
Inadequate funding of basic educational facilities is yet an issue of great concern, especially considering the continuous strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in course of promoting education in the country. The ongoing nationwide strike, for the demand of proper funding of universities as well as honouring of previous agreements, has remained unresolved. The assertion of the federal government that it does not have the financial power to meet “the financial demands of ASUU”, tells a lot especially when billions are pumped into politics following the upcoming 2019 election, despite the said economic downturn.
It is necessary to stress the fact that Nigerians are also to blame for our kwashiorkored system, since a good number of people interest themselves more in the attainment of certificates rather than knowledge, which should be the primary objective of going to school.
This disheartening situation makes a high percentage of Nigerian graduates “educated illiterates”, who are merely graduates on paper but lack the necessary education, thus becoming nuisance to the society.
Should they however be held fully responsible for their actions when our universities are poorly equipped, with “sorting” at an apex, coupled with the increasing rates of unemployment in the nation? A teenager girl was once asked by her teacher what she would do after her final exams in secondary school, and her response was that she would start up a business. When asked why? She said going to school (as in university) is a waste of time and resources. Imagine the mentality of a teenager.
It is true that business is profitable, but is education not profitable? Such mindsets are no doubt influenced by the millions of graduates seen roaming the streets, thus making business more valuable than education.
India was in the past recorded as one of the poorest countries of the world, but can the same be said today? Their long term investment in education is paying off as they now produce best results in medicine (with thousands of people including Nigerians travelling there on a daily basis for medical attention) and are growing fast in technology.
A Nigerian took to social media to express himself after he asked a Chinese friend abroad who had just finished his masters, what his plans were. The said friend in response stated that he would be returning home to his country, and when asked why, he said “because China is good”. The question remains; how many Nigerians would gladly return home after an opportunity of schooling abroad or boast of their country?
The same China, once known for the production of inferior materials (in the past) is today celebrated gurus in terms of industrial and technological advancements. Even Ghana, our neighbouring country now produce some of the best schools in Africa, with huge Nigerian patronage thus enhancing their economy.
At what level do we then rate our beloved country? The system has so far brain washed many that at a continually increasing level, people delve into politics by hook or crook, to get positions in order to get a piece of the national cake instead of the appropriate objective of true democratic government which should be “for the people, of the people and by the people”.
No doubt, the importance of politics is enormous. After all, if there are no shepherds, who then would guide the sheeps? A country without good governance is likely to be an endangerment to itself, as its citizens would surely go astray. Thus the saying that “politics shapen our world” – from laws, to social policies, decisions and resource control, etc, that impacts the society positively or negatively; hence the need to vote wisely.
Good governance can be likened to be the head of a human body whereas education, national security, public health, etc constitutes other parts needed for the body to function effectively. No part of these is less important or more vital than the other, as they all profit the society differently. Thus, education and politics should be handled likewise.
Whereas the preparation for the election of leaders both at the federal and state levels are strategically carried out, government should endeavour to reach an agreement to resolve the ongoing ASUU strike as well as ensure that other aspects needed for the enhancement of our educational sector is well addressed for the benefit of our society.