MALE DROP OUT 2
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigerians has blamed the woes of Nigeria, and in particular that of the educational sector, to many years of military misrule.
The role of education in the development of a society has been vastly documented in academic journals, and we do not intend to revisit it here. This section will concentrate on the need for Nigerian leaders to pay close attention to the needs of the educational sector, and treat it as a public-health issue, because the sociopolitical and economic development of a nation and (or her health) is, in many ways, determined by the quality and level of educational attainment of the population. Political leaders should take politics out of education, as the continued neglect of this sector would lead to social paralysis. The youth should be given the appropriate quality academic training and an environment that would enable them to reach their full potential.
Nigeria has toilet with some educational programs, which have only served as conduits to transfer money to the corrupt political leaders and their cronies. For instance, the nation launched the Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1976, but as noted, the program failed due to lack of fund necessitated by corruption, among other factors. Nigeria has again launched another mass-oriented education program, this time branding it the Universal Basic Education (UBE). The President, Olusegun Obasanjo, declared during the launching of the program in Sokoto that the nation ‘cannot afford to fail this time around.” However, not long after that, the federal government reported that the falling standard of education in Nigeria is caused by “acute shortage of qualified teachers in the primary school level.” It is reported that about 23 percent of the over 400,000 teachers employed in the nation’s primary schools do is the minimum educational requirement one should posses to teach in the nation’s primary schools (Ogbeifum and Olisa; The Vanguard Online, July 1, 2001.
If one may ask: with the troubling revelations of the shortage and “half-baked” teachers employed to teach in the nation’s schools, how are we certain the current UBE program will be successful? Has the government trained the required number and quality of teachers needed to successfully implement the program? Are teachers going to be motivated to perform their duties well? Are the classrooms and seats ready, or are the pupils going to sit on bare floor? Are the books and other teaching materials ready? This writer has noted elsewhere that to improve the standard of education in Nigeria, the society has to first educate the educators, and motivate them to perform their duties well (Dike, July 14, 2000). But the leaders do not seem to want to listen!
However, the UNICEF in it’s ‘state of the world’s children’ report for 1999’ pointed out that about four million Nigerian children have no access to basic education, and that majority of those that are ‘lucky’ to enter schools are given sub-standard education (Akhaine, Jan 10, 1999). Today, there are about 48,242 primary schools with 16,796,078 students in public schools and 1,965,517 in private schools in Nigeria. In addition, Nigeria has 7,104 secondary schools with 4,448,981 students (The Guardian, May 6, 1999; and Dike, 2001).
Most of these schools are in dilapidating states. This shows that Nigeria has a wired value system: it is a society where priorities are turned to their heads. For instance, the salaries of the less educated local government counselors rate higher than that of university professors; it is a place where well known rouge, a 419 person, is applauded for donating money to local communities and churches; it is a place where nobody cares about how one makes his/her money; it is a place where the roads leading to million dollar homes are filled with potholes; and the society is a place where the streets in capital cities are littered with hips of thrash. And cares! Something is obviously wrong with any society that does not take her educational institutions seriously.
Nevertheless, the increased need for higher education during the oil boom of the 1970s in Nigeria, coupled with political pressure, led to the establishment of many universities in the society. And ‘an explosive in enrolments’ during this period marked the beginning of ‘the decline in quality’ of education in the society. In two decades, the number of university students increased eightfold, from about 55,000 in 1980 to more than 400,000 today (Bollag, Feb 1, 2002, A40). Now Nigeria has about 36 private universities have been approved and registered by the federal government. They are: Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State; Babcock University; Igbinedion University, Okada; and Madonna University (Oladeji, August 2, 2001).