WAYS EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANCY CAN CONTRIBUTE TO NATION BUILDING
WAYS EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANCY CAN CONTRIBUTE TO NATION BUILDING
By Chidinma Anita Okafor
Nation building has many important aspects. It is increase in the equality of the political, economic, social and human development system in a given territory, based on some generally accepted rules, principles and a common citizenship. Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, a former minister of education in Nigeria once opined that “Education is the take-off point in fixing our society”. Thus, education is at the centre of nation building. However, the society is complex and rapidly changing, and education must keep pace in order to remain relevant. Educational consultants are therefore necessary to bring calm and order to this complex process.
This work is an attempt to show how education consultancy can contribute to nation building, especially in Nigeria.
HOW CAN EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANCY CONTRIBUTE TO NATION BUILDING?
First, there is a need to re-visit the curriculums of Nigerian schools. Indeed, majority of what makes up the curricula of the Nigerian education system have often been criticized as ‘‘outdated’’ and ‘irrelevant’’.In fact, the National Planning Commission (NPC), once argued that, “…the system emphasizes theoretical knowledge at the expense of technical, vocational and entrepreneurial education. School curricula need urgent review to make it relevant and practice oriented”. A curriculum should be a dependent variable, changing with the needs of the learner. However, the reverse is the case in Nigeria as the curriculum is very rigid, and it focuses more on theories, rather than being practical.
For instance, the subject, “Physical and Health Education (PHE)” is mostly taught inside the four walls of the classrooms. Topics such as “Handball”, “Basketball”, and “Lawn Tennis” rarely get demonstrated on the courts. Students only learn about such sports by word of mouth and by the diagrams in their textbooks! This is because Nigeria’s educational system does not make it compulsory, or even necessary that students should have a hands-on experience in core subjects/courses.
It is therefore necessary that educational consultants address the issue of the inadequacies of the curriculums of Nigerian schools. One of the services of educational consultancy companies such as Crystalinks Education, “… is to help hundreds of happy students secure a place in top institutions around the world”. However, how can these students be truly “happy” if they cannot meet up with the standard curricula practices of the countries they are applying to? How can a country be truly built if her students cannot compete confidently with other students from other countries?
Again, educational consultancy could help in bridging the educational disparity gap between the Northern and Southern geo-political zones in Nigeria,with the former having a poorer ratio compared to other parts of the country. A lot of factors led to this anomaly: Politically, the Macpherson Constitution of 1951 sowed the seed of disparity in educational development by giving powers to the regional government to pass laws on education. This led to the implementation of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) by both the Eastern and Western regions of Nigeria only. Thus, while majority of school children in the East and West could complete their primary school education; the North only had about one in eleven children of school age attending school. Culturally, the southern parts of Nigeria accepted the values, religion and culture of the Christian missionaries, but the Northern people did not readily mix with the Christian missionaries; thereby, making it impossible for Western education to properly thrive in the north.
Perhaps, the most glaring factor of this disparity between the North and South has been the targeting and killing of teachers, education workers and students in the north by members of the dreaded sect, Boko Haram (whose name in Hausa means, “Western education is forbidden). Between 2009 and 2015, attacks in northeastern Nigeria destroyed more than 910 schools and forced at least 1,500 to close. By early 2016, an estimated 952,029 school-age children had fled the violence. They have little or no access to education, likely blighting their future for years to come.
While it is commendable that an educational consultancy company like Crystalinks Education, is “at the fore-front of educational outreach programs, such as the distribution of various education materials and other collaborative activities”, – there is still more to be done! More scholarships and sponsorship could be made to children in the IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) camps in the northeast. Indeed, as noted by a teacher in that region, “They [the children] had not received an education in that area for many, many, years…There is nothing there. Their children have no future”. This is a call to action for educational consultancy firms/companies to contribute their own quota to nation-building.
Furthermore, the issue of inadequate qualified manpower in Nigeria’s education system must be addressed. The quality of the education system in any society can only be good, as the quality of her teachers. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, it has been argued that most graduate teachers are not professionals and are inadequately exposed to teaching practice, as many cannot even communicate effectively in English.
Therefore, educational consultancy has a role to play in designing training programs for teachers so as to improve their teaching skills. Educational consultancy companies are abreast with international best practices regarding the teaching profession. They could provide guidance to Nigerian teachers on teaching styles and recommended strategies to help improve schools’ educational rankings and academic standing, thus, contributing to nation building.
From the foregoing, it is clear that nation building is a product of conscious efforts, not happenstance. Thus, education consultancy must respond quickly to the inadequacies of the curricula of Nigerian schools; bridge the gap of educational disparity between the northern and southern regions, as well as address the issue of inadequate qualified manpower in Nigeria’s educational system in order to contribute to nation building.
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