The basic realm of social progress in a society involves the activities to transform nature, society and man. (Vikko 2003:1). The success of the transformation leads to 1. High/increase in wealth creation. 2. Rationalization of social relationship. 3. Remolding and growth of the mental process of man into powerful social being having higher standards of cultural wealth. Given the three aspects of transformation above, the third: “the remoulding and growth of man’s mental process should be of great precedent and this defines education.
Education according to the oxford advanced learners dictionary is the process of teaching, training and learning, especially in schools or colleges to improve knowledge and developed skills.
In a very broad form, education refers to the transmission of culture from one generation to the other for the benefit, survival and continuity of the society. It is a continuous process of sharpening and modifying the behaviour of an individual for adequate adjustment and self reliance in the society.
The above scenario suggests that education-the know knowledge, skills and competences that s acquired are from different forms and places. It takes the form of formal and informal education. It is formal when learning situations takes places under a planned setting, where goals are set and pursued within a specific period of time. It is informal if the education is acquired in an informal or incidental setting.
In Nigeria, theses forms of education are acquired from institutions of learning such as nursery, primary and secondary schools, vocational/technical centers, monotechnics, polytechnics etc. other institutions includes college of education, school of nursing/midwifery and universities. Among these, the university is the highest institution of learning. However, these institutions are faced with numerous challenges in a bid to carry out and achieving their goals and objectives. This paper brought to limelight, the challenges of university educational system in Nigeria.
The “university” is an institution at the highest level of education where one can study for a degree or research. Being the highest citadel of learning. It grooms/awards not only learning processes or degrees, but grooms people of good character. Little wonder why during conferment of degrees, graduands are presented as those of ‘good character and learning’. These therefore mean that the university is both a place of learning, agent of socialization and moulding of character aimed at producing a total man. In Nigeria, universities are owned by both government (public) and private organizations. These universities are confronted with several challenges, especially the government owned (public) universities.
Some of these challenges will be discussed below;
1. INFRASTRUCTURE: infrastructural facilities such as buildings for the purpose of lectures, laboratories, studios, workshops, student’s hostels, administrative blocks, recreation centers etc are lacking and if available are grossly inadequate. A more systematic challenge on these items is age. In most universities, there buildings are as old as man itself or as when the various institutions were founded. Some of these structures are dilapidated without any form of maintenance. Education in modern day are delivered in an entirely new manner with modern tools, techniques and teaching methods that do not fit the simplistic convention of antiquated old designs. At this age, most of these buildings are fading rapidly even if there original plan were replaced. Such conditions can affect the teaching and learning process in the university environment.
It is also worrisome to know that due to inadequate lecture halls, student is over crowded in the available halls. Some are seen standing; some sitting on the widows while others are seen hanging around the corridors and corners of the classrooms. Some practical courses are never learnt in our laboratories or seminar rooms, cos we lack them. This leads to producing incompetent graduates in the society. This situation makes the student to see the university as a means of acquiring certificates and not the desired skills.
2. FUNDS: university educational system in Nigeria is grossly under funded. This has lead to neglect of high profile structures and amenities. The growing and changing nature of the university education calls for a strong economic force such as the funding system which we see today as ‘federal support’ should be dropped and improved. Poor funding of Nigerian universities also lead to poor motivation of staff to unscrupulous activities of lecturers.
3. POOR HUMAN RESOURCES: it’s unfortunate to mention that most of the human resources, both academic and non academics employed, employs on the basis of sentiments and no qualification. They are not rated according to their certificates and qualifications. Imagine employment lapses where an engineer is employed as an administrative officer or an accounting graduate without any know how in research work comes to teach ‘Research Methodology”. It is obvious that the system will eventually collapse. In this scenario, the principle of ‘garbage in, garbage out’ comes in, the students will be short. In human resources, it will be in short supply, thus dwindling the system. Due to this shortage in the supply of human resources, classes are combined, which will eventually lead to the overcrowding of the lecture halls. Let’s not forget that administrative and work is slow and stagnant too.
4. EDUCATIONAL POLICIES: our educational policies are not always reviewed. We always wait for when there is a problem or crisis before we start talking about what and how to implement policies. At other times even when we know that these policies are not working, they are not even reviewed. A good example is the educational needs of our various departments and faculties. New courses should be added to old exiting ones due to the dynamic nature of our society and environment. Also the content of most universities curriculum are static, they are not reviewed periodically to meet the yearning needs of our changing society. This makes learning old fashion and irrelevant.
5. INDUSTRIAL ACTIONS: actions such as strikes and industrial disputes often disrupt universities calendar, thereby putting the whole system at risk. During such periods, students sometimes engage in social vices. A typical example is the nation-wide ASUU strike of 2009 which lasted for a six months period as well as the 2011 strike which enveloped three months of the university calendar. Sometimes, such strikes could be peculiar to the school internal administration.
6. STUDENTS VIOLENCE/RESTIVES: this includes peaceful or violent demonstrations, rivalry cult clashes etc. these activities leads to loss of life and properties as well as investment worth millions of naira. We should also remember that during such violent protest, the universities are usually shut down or closed, until normalcy returns.
7. POLITICAL SITUATION AND INTERFERENCE OF HOST COMMUNITIES: political situation of the country also possess a great challenge to the Nigerian educational system. A peaceful atmosphere promotes effective learning and teaching process. The reverse is the case when the political situation and host communities where the universities are situated become hostile. A typical example is the killing and bombing being experience by the dreaded Islamic sect, the Boko Haram.
1. Government and the organized private sector should partner together towards developing the university educational system in the country.
2. Recruitment should be based purely on merit as this will increase the productive capacity of our schools and discourage mediocrity. Also all forms of godfatherism, nepotisms, sentiments and tribalism should be discouraged.
3. Rather than embarking on strikes and violent protest, there should be dialogue and room for peace at all times between the government, student union and the university administrative heads.
Education is the sum total of an individual life experiences which includes knowledge, skills, altitude and values generally aimed at a total man which will guide him towards his daily needs. The university helps in the actualization of the vision/mission, goals and objectives of our educational needs. It is therefore imperative that the challenges in the Nigerian educational system be brought to the limelight in order to see ways of reducing or eliminating most of them. This is because, if these challenges abounds, the society will see education as only a way forward to acquiring certificate and not in the development of their cognitive reasoning and social powers, thereby shortchanging the desired growth and development we all long for as well as the various parties involved.
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