Essay series: We need teachers that can teach and schools that build complete citizens

by David Temitope

Two things are needed to reform Nigeria’s education for development of human capital. They are, schools that build complete citizens, and teachers that have a sense of success in teaching. Let us examine two relevant quotes. Lee Kwan Yew – “What is the ideal product? The ideal product is the student, the university graduate, who is strong, robust, rugged, with tremendous qualities of stamina, endurance and at the same time, with great intellectual discipline and, most important of all, humility, and love for his community; a readiness to serve whether God or king or country or, if you like, just his community”.Lee Kwan Yew – “No teacher can really perform his duty unless he feels he is doing something worthwhile. Every school teacher in the classroom must feel for and with his flock of 35 or 22 children. Unless he does that, the teacher cannot give his pupil something.” The first quote highlights the type of student the institutions should be capable of producing, the second spoke about the role of the teacher(s).

Education is defined as the process of imparting knowledge, skill and judgement (Wiktionary). Human capital is defined as the stock of competencies, knowledge, habits, social and personal attributes, including creativity, cognitive abilities, embodied in the ability to perform labour so as to produce economic value (Wiktionary). To develop Nigeria’s human capital, education need to emphasize on content related to labour market demand.To achieve this, we require a concurrence of teachers and schools upgrade. On the teachers: Good infrastructures may be abused by unqualified and unmotivated teaching staffs. Teachers should be mentally and physically prepared for their job. They need to have a sense of success and job satisfaction.

Job satisfaction has been linked to productivity, motivation, and general life satisfaction. On the contrary, a dissatisfied employee has traits of tardiness, inefficiency, and low productivity. A person may be identified by the society through their profession, a doctor or lawyer. If the teaching profession bestow little dignity, teachers may be dissatisfied with their jobs. Job satisfaction is defined as pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences (Locke, 1975, p.1304). Job satisfaction can specifically be attained from, salary, growth opportunities, and work environment. A minimum wage of ₦ 18,000, a comatose National Teachers Institute, and poor school infrastructures; it can be deduced that job satisfaction is a challenge to Nigerian teachers. Kaduna State Government announced in September 2017, that it has a deficit of 25,000 teachers based on the current primary school enrolments.

The teaching profession is somewhat unattractive to decent graduates. Give an unhappy man a rose, and he may hurt himself with the thorns; discounting its beauty. If we focus on building better schools without holistically considering the (wo)men who would manage it, we may toil in vain. Nigeria’s education reform should make provisions for, a better remuneration for teachers, better training and retraining process, and allow healthy competitive structures; so as to promote self-development. When we have teachers who can pour ingenuity into pupils and students, infrastructures will be worth investing on.

Furthermore, Nigeria’s education reform need to promote citizenship. There should be an emphasis on supporting every child to attain quality education, regardless of their gender, economic or social background. This is enshrined in the 1999 Nigerian constitution, section 18, subsection 1 – “Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.”This basic principle of equality through identifying each child by his or her name, and providing them with a good educational platform will lead to true citizens. The Pedagogy need to be tailored to the needs of every child, especially people living with disabilities. This is the first step in producing an ideal product who will be ready to serve his community and the nation at large.This reform will help students believe they are a vital part of the system; making them to become active members of their society and hold their governments to account.

Money spent on education is an investment, and for it to be profitable the products must add value to the society.A reformed educational system should encourage literacy, confidence, creativity, and attitudes that are needed to participate in the society. The pedagogy need to be a framework centred on learning to solve problems.A class project or field trip need to emphasize on local and national challenges.

A fair and inclusive opportunity for each and every child to get education will help reduce illiteracy rate. According to Nigeria’s current minister of education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu, Nigeria has about 65 million to 75 million illiterates. With a population of 182 million people (National Population Commission, 2016.), this implies the likelihood of having five of thirteen Nigerians to be illiterates.

Moreover, infrastructural deficit in the education sector is an inhibitor to literacy. On the average, there is only one toilet for 600 pupils, and students sometimes have to provide their own desks and other needed furniture (UNICEF 2017). Funding for capital projects in the education sector need to improve. Nigeria allocated only 7.04 percent of the proposed ₦8.6 trillion 2018 budget to education. This is contrary to the 26 percent recommended by the United Nations. The total sum allocated to the sector is ₦ 605.8 billion, with only 10.1 percent of it; ₦61.73 billion for capital expenditure. These figures need to improve immensely. The Education Tax Decree of 1993, which taxes 2 percent of profit of a company registered in Nigeria, need to be judiciously channeled to the educational sector.

In conclusion, there is need for a precise description of the type of graduate we need in our society. The ideal product will require, more funding from government, better utilization of funds and tracking of resources, better trained and job satisfied teachers, change in pedagogy to produce citizens, and improved infrastructure.



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