A common misconception about education, in our part of the world, is that; schooling equals learning. That by gaining access to school, a child gets ‘educated’, even with little or no attention paid to the learning process. Going by this notion, we are missing an important part of education and this creates a major problem.
The fact is, education goes far beyond schooling –enabling access and enrolment to school. It involves a system of effective learning that enable a child gain valuable knowledge and skills. As a result, getting a child to school without adequate effort towards learning does little to educate the child.
A child can be in school gaining nothing significant. So, we must understand that in education, schooling is not the same as learning.
The foundation of any state is the education of its youth. Hence, the situation in a society reflects the condition of education in such a society.
Over the years, alarming statistics from international organizations often highlight the appalling condition of education in Nigeria. A condition shown by the population of out-of-school children and Illiterate young adults.
For stakeholders and policymakers, the quick fix to the problem is to provide schools. Little attention goes to the quality of education, by extension, the learning process in such schools.
In favour of a quality education, learning process must entail the acquisition of knowledge and skills, that have a lasting impact on a child’s ability, attitude, and behaviour through an effective pedagogical means.
A recent study on the quality of education around the world identified an increasing gap between schooling and learning. It reveals an improvement in school enrolment in lower and middle-income countries. But then, students graduate from schools with little knowledge of what they should know. A reality that is widespread in our society.
‘Ineffective Learning System’
Limited access to school continues to pose a major challenge to enrolment in Nigeria. In most cases, the chance of a child getting access to school depends on societal factors. These include the socioeconomic condition of the family, location –whether rural or urban- and the gender of such a child. This situation that has resulted in the complete exclusion of parts of the population from the education system.
However, effort towards realizing the promise of education goes beyond providing access to school. It centers on the delivery of quality education through effective learning. An important issue that lacks the needed attention.
Ineffective learning system in Nigerian schools make up the greatest contributing factor to the low quality of education in the country.
Most times, children that get access and enrol in schools –especially public ones-, leave without gaining much of the most basic knowledge. In this condition, children spend 2 or 3years in school without learning to read a single word. Also, they reach the end of primary school without learning to do basic arithmetic.
With such a weak foundation, such individuals will no doubt find it difficult to make effective progress in higher education. In the long run, this condition slows down human development.
Factors responsible for this problem are multidimensional.
First, children are not adequately prepared for education. This boils down to the home or background a child is coming from. Children from poor homes that lack adequate nutrition are more likely to experience stunted growth. This usually affects the development of their brain and makes it difficult for them to learn. As a result, a learning problem is created.
Second, most schools lack adequate facilities to ensure effective teaching and learning. From the most basic, such as reading and writing materials to classroom furniture and learning-enhancing tools. Coupled with widespread involvement of unqualified personnel in the teaching profession, learning output is no doubt affected.
Third, cases of poor school management and administration which has allowed for little supervision and monitoring of educational activities continue to foster mediocrity in the education system. The lack of political will to focus on this area by policymakers has made the situation widespread. Leading to an overall fall in the standard.
Fourth, the school curriculum used in our schools is inadequate. The curriculum is not structured towards effective knowledge and skill acquisition. Rather it is tailored towards enabling students to pass tests and examinations. Giving little consideration to the extent of competency a student acquires. Also, over-reliance of the society on ‘paper qualification’ has made it difficult for progress to be made in this regards.
‘Calls for a Reform’
The stated guiding principle of education in Nigeria is focused on equipping every citizen with the necessary knowledge, skills, and values that will enable a fulfilling life and spur the development of the nation. However, reality suggests little emphasis is placed on this principle.
The ensuing situation calls for a reform of Nigeria’s education system.
The education system in the country must be remodified in a way that prepares students not only to get grades but also for life after school. Preparing them to be creative, innovative and live a fulfilling life.
The only way to achieve these goals is through an education system that places a huge emphasis on effective learning. Our school curriculum must be made to build students’ cognitive and non-cognitive abilities. Through cognitive skills such as creativity and problem solving, and also non-cognitive skills such as resilience, persistence, and teamwork.
The responsibility falls squarely on policymakers and other stakeholders in the education sector. From the federal ministry of education to the lawmakers, down to the heads of schools, the teachers and parents. Everyone must work for the achievement of a quality education system in Nigeria.
We should always remember that a successful education system focuses not only on schooling but also on the learning process. Both schooling and effecting learning makes for a quality education. After all, schooling without learning is a wasted opportunity.