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Jude Arikhan: The Unsolved Problem of Our Education System



It has become a cliché to talk about the defunct of the educational system in Nigeria. Everyone has become accustomed with its deficiencies, and we are left to think that our current situation is the best we can get. A very sour thought that overwhelms the mind indeed when our institutions are compared with those of the western world.

Why has the system still not worked?
You are graced with very painful sights when you walk into some of our higher institutions in Nigeria. At the very entrance you behold very poor infrastructures, then very corrupt administrative practices. The lecturers are underdeveloped in the act of teaching and proper communication cues. I once had a lecturer who took us on a math course and while writhing on the board he said that, ” see even me writing this thing I don’t know it, so you guys should just try to understand.” Now you think that’s the worst it can get. Sadly enough, no.
You will be very lucky to see some of your lectures up to five(5) times a semester and no one is doing anything about it. You also have lecturers who are out to see you fail. They set what they didn’t teach and when they do teach.. students don’t understand. There was this situation of a lecturer who told his student that none of them could get an “A”. He outrightly said that the “A” was for his dead mother and the students should pray hard for his father not to pass away too, unless the “B” will follow suit. You can only but imagine how wickedness has engraved the heart of men that are supposed to do everything possible to make sure knowledge is passed on to students.

The government has shown little or no concern in the development of the educational system. It has dwindled financially and systematically and also in standards. The Nigerian universities are ranked among the thousands in the world, with the highest ranked 1926th In the world. It is only a painful fact that our educational system is only good enough to produce half baked graduates. Graduates who cannot compete in the global market without climbing up the ladder of education.

Also the unions set to check the excesses of the government, and to also make sure the educational system is hale and hearty… is majorly concerned with financial benefits than educational improvements. The average union man will prefer they pay him a million Naira teaching in substandard infrastructure to five hundred thousand teaching with standard infrastructures. Sad! It’s slightly odd that their secondary interest is the students of which they show little or no concern.

It would be a cynical manipulation of semantics to say that the educational system has improved effectively over the years. We have engineering graduates who don’t know the right mix to mould a block. We have final year medical students who still look at the faces of their supervisors to assure themselves they are doing the right thing before administering a basic drug or an injection. We have business students who cannot calculate for gross profit or even know the steps to starting up a business. We have microbiology graduates working at banks. Doing what? Probably scanning for viruses on the Naira before its dispensed to the general public. There are a lot of graduates who have to undergo training after being employed to teach them what they are meant to have learnt while they were still in school. All these are big holes in the educational system which the government over the years have failed to cover.

In my very first year in the university, I spent more than half of the session standing to receive lectures because of inadequate seats and overpopulation of classrooms. If I had a class by 8am, I better be there before 7:30am in order to grab the remaining seat at the back. Then, when the lecture begins you can’t even see the chalk board or hear the lecturer’s voice. He then complains about the class inability to buy a public address system and good writing materials-like the students hold shares in the school- then he walks out the door.

After going through the rigors of receiving lectures you go back to an over populated hostel where you have to open the door with extreme caution so you don’t hit someone. You stay there inhaling all sort of dirt. The whole environment is grime and students are forced to take their bath outside all because of the quest for knowledge.

It is much rather theatrical than believing to see that even the struggling families(financially) try to send their children to private universities all because of an asserted assurance that the government universities are nothing to write home about. 200% of students in Nigeria will prefer to study abroad. Here the students go through hell just to stand a chance of graduating with flying colours. The government has not brought about any strategies to tackle these problems. Instead they tackle it by securing their own children’s future by sending them abroad to study in top universities. It is fair to say they are aware of the situation and have decided to turn away from it.

The educational system is the backbone of every nation. It brings about new technologies for improved lifestyle, war situations and more, it helps in researches for medical problems. A country can never function properly without well educated individual.

Nigeria, a nation blessed with a lot of natural resources and man power only suffers from one natural disaster which is BAD LEADERSHIP. This has a lot of people clinging to only the hope of life.
We have schools abroad where students undergo their research with university property, a well nourished syllabus and good teaching environment. They have students who come out feeling educated. I once asked a biochemistry graduate what she can now do? She looked at me and laughed for a minute, then she said ” I don’t really know.” Now she’s doing her masters in that same very course. Imagine after drowning herself in endless hours of late night reading, she doesn’t feel impacted by the educational system rather she is left to imagine what she could possibly do. She doesn’t leave the university with knowledge rather than a certificate which can do her little or no good.

What could possibly be done to stop this act of extreme nonchalance attributed to our educational sector? A question we all know there are multiple answers to.

Photo Credit:
Jude Arikhan believes in equity, not revenge. Follow him on Twitter @judekoko. More information can be found on his website


  1. Grace

    April 8, 2014 at 11:52 am

    @Jude Kokodede

    Good morning Sir, first of all I want to commend your beautiful write-up. You just nailed the problem we are having not only in the educational system but as well as in other sectors. I am from Cameroon and what you described here is also what we are having in my beloved country. I feel like crying right now, what have we done to deserve such corrupt, irresponsable, selfish leaders? What have we done to be treated like shit by our leaders? Why are they killing the dreams of the youths? Why are they driving the whole nation down? My heart is sad Sir, my heart is bleeding inside. It is almost 13 o’clock and people have not yet commented this beautiful article. This is appalling, people have become accustomed with the statu-quo situation we are having all around Africa. Why do people pay less attention to such important issues? Why are the Africans so irresponsible? If this article was about gossips we will have had so much comments, so much interventions. The change we aspire to will have to start with each and everyone of us, we need to change our mentality, invest in our future not just spending the whole day on facebook to comment pictures. Sir we shall not lose hope, we shall overcome by GOD’s grace. I wish you a pleasant day, may GOD bless and protect you including your beloved ones.

  2. ada

    April 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    a very close family relative runs a secondary school and despite the teeming population of job seekers, he always complains of how hard it is to get teachers who speak and write proper English so they do not pollute the kids. such standards are only upheld in the middle to upper class private schools. that is our educational system for you… passing mediocrity from one generation to another.

  3. FunkyW

    April 8, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Your article is the sad reality for many university graduates, I believe change can come at all educational levels one teacher at a time. But how motivated can a teacher be when she’s living from hand to mouth. The government needs to invest purposefully in the educational sector.

  4. Jv

    April 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Now this is an article! An Indepth analysis of every problem there is with our (tertiary)educational system! We have been victims to the system, we need urgent intervention, cos wen human capital development is not happening, nothing works!

  5. Meah

    April 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    While i commend the writer for this article, it seems he/she is maintaining the typical Nigerian status quo: complaining without offering concrete suggestions for change. You need not agree with what i say, but we all know the unsolved problems of our educational system. what we need are solid, workable solutions to the problems, not a litany highlighting our public-knowledge woes.

    My advise? we need to start from the scratch. I believe primary education is the bedrock for learning and like the good book says, not much can be done once the foundation is bad. If we get our primary educational sector right, other levels will be like building blocks on a solid platform. To achieve this, it may be helpful to have a 20/80 govt/private sector partnership arrangement as the wholly owned system being currently practiced is pretty woeful.

    • Dr. N

      April 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      And that may be why there are few comments

  6. Obi

    April 8, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    My primary school was done in two slightly unequal halves. First half at Alvan Staff School in Owerr (the Alvan Ikoku College of Education primary school). Second half was at St Bridget’s School in Aba. All I remember from Alvan was wishing I came either 1st – 5th at least, and wishing my teacher would like me as much as she liked some of the fave students. I remember the fight of my life, as well as many days sitting in the covered sports pavillion (if you call it that). I don’t remember much of anything outside playing and sitting in class. I have more memories of nursery school than primary at Alvan. This was all of my Pry 1 – 4. St Bridget’s however was my saving grace. I started there 2nd term Pry 4. There I began the ongoing journey of pushing limits and realizing my capabilities. Teachers actually wanted you to learn and spent time tutoring – not after school lessons mind you – you learnt while in class. The things I learnt in St Bridget’s have stuck with me and I often long to go back and contribute in some way tangible to the success of the kids there now. Had I remained in Aba, I would have attended the secondary school. But life had other plans. Long story short – even a child knows when he or she is in a rubbish system. It starts from elementary education. If we don’t revamp our primary & secondary school systems, our tertiary systems are doomed forever. We will have millions of students below average vying for seats in the Uni classrooms, expecting to suddenly receive education on a horribly weak foundation; and even good teachers will be forced to aspire for mediocre.

  7. Dr. N

    April 8, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I offer my lil solution.
    1. CSR. Each of us has to find a way to partner with the public schools to push for excellence. I belong to a book club that plans to start a book club in every public school in my area, n then the state. This will give us a leg in to find ways to help them raise funds for chairs, tables, toilets and other needs. I believe books give u wings to fly. Teach a child to read, she learns to dream.
    2. Discourage mediocrity in private schools. A teacher told me of a parent who commanded them to only give her child homework on weekends. Others scold u for insisting their child should be let off despite poor performance. On and on. I will withdraw my child from any school that does not believe in discipline. Lest he come home n shoot me one day.
    3. Reward teachers. Teachers are poorly paid, unmotivated, unappreciated. The way a few of them beg for tips is appalling. Let us restore their dignity. When I was in pry sch, the PTA decided to pay the salary of key teachers to prevent the school from losing them. We have influence in many ways.
    4. Employ the qualified. It is demoralizing to see top brains, crawling the streets while those u witnessed cheating n sleeping wt lecturers get top jobs. If u are at d head, be d one to insist on doing the right thing. I knew a VC who denied his son admission into his desired course because he scored poorly. No one dared ask him undeserved favors. (Who u be?).
    I could go on and on but, as a teacher’s daughter, less is more, lol.
    Note: we cannot continue to wait for d govt.

    • Kia

      April 8, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      I really like the idea of the book club. I have been racking my brains on how to make my own little contribution to improving education in this country. This looks like a good place to start. I hope u don’t mind me stealing you idea!

    • Dr. N

      April 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      Go right ahead. It’s non profit

  8. c'est moi

    April 8, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    The solution to our educational backwardness is the solution to all of our problems in Nigeria – Stop settling! Nigerians settle for mediocrity at all levels! Ever wondered why the UK is where it is? The British are difficult to please! They are constantly complaining and pushing the limit! A Nigerian will come here and be amazed at the NHS service and the roads etc but a white man always feels he deserves even better! Let me give you an example: You stop a cab but the driver says to sit in front passenger sit with another person and you have no problem with that as long as you get to your destination! Why? You are paying thesame fare as everyone else so you deserve comfort, but no, we are Nigerians, dirty no dey kill African man! A student goes to school, writes and exam and gets an A but say an 80. Here, this same student will not be satisfied and has every right to walk up to the lecturer to enquire why and how to make that 80 a hundred but in Nigeria, you will be discouraged! Terms like ‘I too sabi’ will be used on you. Nigerians have to learn how to demand the best at all levels! If you are sending a child to school, demand to know what it is they are offering your child because you do have a right to know! If your child is not performing as well as you expect, demand to know why and don’t just withdraw the child from the school but alert the rightful authorities and fellow parents let’s see whether that school will not sit up! If parents start demanding better service for their hard earned money, their children will learn by example how not to settle but strive to always get the best! With that foundation, when you walk into a class in a university and the lecturer is not giving you your money’s and time’s worth, you would expose that lecturer thanks to social media! If every student and parent stands and says NO! We will not accept sub-standard education, the system will have no choice but to sit up! When no one says anything, it’s an indirect acceptance of the status-quo! I ALWAYS SAY, Nigerians are not angry enough, when you are angry, all these complaints will be a thing of the past! Stop settling and start demanding quality service in all areas at all times! It’s like the Arik air situation; you can’t try that in Britain, by now over 20 lawsuits will be in place! The airline will be left bankrupt so no airline here can even try it! It’s shocking ot the African man, the things white people demand for but the truth is that is why they are where they are!

    • TheresaO

      April 8, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      Very true c’est moi! But the problem is the frustration people experience when they complain to the relevant authorities. When the judiciary that is supposed to provide justice, offers it to the highest bidder (which is often the perpetrator), you can be sure the case will never see the light of day! After spending money, time and being threatened, many victims just give up. Sad but true. But we must keep hope alight. We might be the generation that turns things around.

      I also like Dr N’s suggestions. We too can make a difference instead of waiting for the govt.

  9. snooxs

    April 8, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Weldone koko!

  10. chikita

    April 9, 2014 at 12:38 am

    and also, i really hop esomeon in Aso Rock is reading the comments on Bella naija and Linda Ikeji for ideas….

  11. chikita

    April 9, 2014 at 12:40 am

    I really pray we are the generation that make a difference.
    I really like the idea of the public/private partnership education system.
    I also believe we need to encourage more ‘properly educated’ people in society to take up these roles as lecturers- by properly educated I mean people who know what they are teaching, why they are teaching, a 21st century perspective of the world (i.e. not someone that still believes the power of juju, mamiwater is above all) and for Pete’s sake that can spell correctly and speak proper english -the correct pronunciation on ‘th’ etc. Us Nigerians, we like good things, its true, and I believe that many Nigerians do not rate the teaching profession. But we need to change the perception of this role. How can we do this my people? any suggestions?

    good suggestions everyone, we really need to implement our ideas ourselves and stop waiting for the government. IT IS TIME TO TAKE CONTROL OF OUR DESTINY

  12. f.aigi

    April 9, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Great write up…very mature

  13. @jabbamomoh

    April 11, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Nicely done Koko. Problem Identification is a first step, proferring solutions is the next, action follows and then one evaluates and do it again, BIGGER and BETTER. Let’s every youth advocate for changes we want to see. Be an AIESECer: a global citizen, a change agent and impact. My 1 advice.

  14. @jabbamomoh

    April 11, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I think a follow up article about AIESEC would be great to complement the effort and create awareness of opportunities to young individuals to create changes, explore and develope their leadership potentials and most of all peace and fullfilment of humankind. NB: there is no bad leadership. If it is bad it isn’t leadership. Let’s join AIESEC Gen 2015 and be part of that world change.

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