Education is fundamental to growth and development, and serves as a critical index in measuring the progress of the development agenda. Therefore, deliberate efforts should be made to develop the sector, particularly in rural areas. This will include the provision of educational infrastructures and facilities, sustainable curriculum and policies, the employment of more teaching staff, and strengthening oversight functions on educational facilities and scholarship for students. Education is the most powerful tool for reducing poverty, ensuring peace and stability and advancing a people…
In Nigeria’s National Policy on Education (FRN 1998), it is stated that the federal government has adopted education as an instrument for driving national development in all areas of the nation. However, this does not reflect the situation in rural Nigeria where there is an overwhelming widespread of illiteracy. Education in these places is characterised by very poor infrastructure, insufficient teachers, insecurity, and non-payment of workers, among others. It is common knowledge that a majority of the population in developing countries like Nigeria live in rural areas, which are largely neglected by the government when it comes to development of any form, education inclusive.
Despite the fact that rural dwellers in Nigeria are usually not properly targeted in government development activities, the nation’s wealth is derived from rural areas across the country. Crude oil, limestone, coal, among other resources possessed by the country, are hugely deposited in rural areas. The under-development in Nigeria has been linked to the lack of development of the rural areas. A view states that no serious, active, conscious, sensitive, and organised government would want to neglect rural communities. Rural neglect brings negative consequences, such as the exodus of rural dwellers to urban areas, with the resulting problems of unemployment, crimes, prostitution, child labour, insecurity, money laundering, bribery, poverty, proliferation of shanty living areas, spread of diseases, and overstretching of the facilities and infrastructure in urban areas.
Having travelled through various geo-political zones of the country, the sight of education facilities in rural areas of Nigeria is disheartening, particularly in this 21st century. From broken classroom walls, to opened roofs, damaged chalk boards, overpopulation and the lack of sufficient chairs and tables in classes, bushy environments that house reptiles etc., the educational plight in rural Nigeria calls for immediate “unpolitical” attention. Having visited rural schools in the South-West, North-Central and North-West Nigeria, the current situation tends to endanger the nation’s future if not reversed. In one of the North-Central states, pupils have been learning under a shade for many years before the local government authority managed to erect a single building for all the classes. This is one instance of the critical challenges being faced in these areas.
Education is to a nation what the mind is to the body; and a diseased mind is handicapped in the coordination and direction of the bodily activities. Therefore, the single most significant factor for national development is the revamp of the educational system. Since a majority of the population still live in rural areas, education, which is believed to be the bedrock of any nation’s development, should be given serious attention in rural areas. Challenges confronting rural education in Nigeria include:
Lack of Infrastructure: There is a huge infrastructural deficit in rural educational development in Nigeria. The majority of rural schools are poorly built and very old, with damaged roofs and walls. Other educational facilities, such as chairs and tables are usually not sufficient; libraries do not exist in many rural schools, etc.
Poor Legislative Oversight Duty: Oversight duty is a serious way the legislature can check the executive by supervising projects awarded and asking important questions on budget and expenses on such projects. However, the legislators have performed poorly in this function. Thus, some of the approved rural schools are not well constructed or not constructed at all.
Insufficient Teaching Staff: There has been a great shortage of teaching staff in rural schools for many years in Nigeria. This explains why a teacher can be saddled to teach two or more subjects/courses, sometimes outside his/her discipline.
Poor Learning Facilities: Learning facilities in rural Nigeria are in very poor conditions, if at all they exist. Computer laboratories, internet and other things that will expose children to global standard in their studies are absent.
Poverty: This is an underlining factor in Nigeria as a whole. People in rural areas live below a dollar daily. The poverty level is so high for them to afford schooling opportunities for their children.
Corruption: This problem has affected Nigeria negatively in all sectors. The embezzlement of educational funds, scholarship and grants has marred the effort to develop education in rural Nigeria.
Critically assessing the first post-independence National Educational Nigerian Conference on Curriculum Development organised in 1969 by the Nigerian Educational Council, which had the following resolutions:
– Provision and expansion of educational facilities to ensure education gets to the door step of every Nigerian child;
– Overhauling and reforming the content of general education to make it more responsive to the socio-economic needs of the country;
– Developing and consolidating the nation’s higher education in response to the manpower needs of the country;
– Developing technological education in order to meet the growing needs of the nation.
All these resolutions failed because of the lack of commitment from the government. Education is fundamental to growth and development, and serves as a critical index in measuring the progress of the development agenda. Therefore, deliberate efforts should be made to develop the sector, particularly in rural areas. This will include the provision of educational infrastructures and facilities, sustainable curriculum and policies, the employment of more teaching staff, and strengthening oversight functions on educational facilities and scholarship for students. Education is the most powerful tool for reducing poverty, ensuring peace and stability and advancing a people; a nation cannot grow beyond her level of education. For Nigeria to grow, education must grow rapidly in the country.
Olawale Rotimi can be reached via email@example.com.