By Chiedu Uche Okoye
SIR: In the 1960s and 1970s, the post-primary schools and universities in Nigeria offered quality education to students. And, good morals were inculcated into them. Little wonder, then, Nigerian schools became an educational Mecca of sorts for international students, who were very hungry for qualitative university education. At that time, our universities were truly citadels of learning and bastion of scientific and humanistic knowledge. And, products of our school could hold their own in their chosen areas of specialization at the global level.
Today, sadly, excellence once associated with Nigerian schools has been eroded. The diminution of the educational standard in Nigeria was partly caused by military intervention in our politics. The devaluation of our naira currency owing to the mismanagement of our economy caused many a Nigerian professional to seek greener pastures outside the shores of Nigeria.
And, owing to the entrenchment of corruption in Nigeria, many people stopped setting stores by family values. This Machiavellian principle, “the end justifies the means”, became the lodestar and guiding principles of millions of Nigerians.
So, in no time, parents, who wanted their children to study such professional courses as Accountancy, Medicine, Law, and others, would hire surrogate candidates to sit examinations like NECO, SSCE, and NABTEB for their children. As a consequence, merit was destroyed and sacrificed on the altar of nepotism, cronyism, and corruption. Not surprisingly, many doctors, accountants, lawyers, and lecturers in Nigeria manifest and display charlatanism while performing their duties.
In contrast to what obtained in the 1960s and 1970s, when the certificates of secondary school leavers reflected their true academic ability, today’s secondary school leavers have been found to know next to nothing in subjects they scored distinctions in examinations like NECO, SSCE, NABTEB, and others.
While the rot in our school system is deepening and festering, our political leaders at different levels are sitting on their hands and doing nothing. Not only are they insensitive to the plight and welfare of teachers, but also they do not equip the schools with modern science and laboratory equipment and computers. Add this to the intractable perennial ASUU and federal impasse, and you will get a graphic and true picture of the deep crisis into which our schools have sunk.
The incessant industrial actions, which are always being embarked on by university lecturers, disrupt our universities’ academic calendars and elongate students’ stay on campuses. Because an idle mind is a devil’s workshop, the idling students do engage in the perpetration of anti-social acts.
In our universities, some lecturers seldom engage in researches to produce lecture notes for their students. Instead, they will dictate thirty-year-old lecture notes to them. And, most secondary school teachers, whose are dispirited and disenchanted, moonlight to earn money, to augment their meagre salaries.
I urge the federal government to settle its recurring face-off with ASUU, and articulate measures that would revamp our universities in order that they can become world-class universities. If our universities become world-class schools, educational tourism, which children of rich do embark on, will stop as they will start to enrol for academic programmes in our universities. To restore the past and lost glories of our universities should be the top priority of our political leaders if they are desirous of transforming Nigeria into an economically and technologically developed country.
In today’s world, education is the bedrock of development. As universities are citadels of learning, and bastion of scientific and humanistic knowledge, they should be well-funded, and lecturers’ morale boosted in order that the university teachers can push back the frontiers of knowledge and put Nigeria on the irreversible path of economic and technological development.
Chiedu Uche Okoye, Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State.