What is Education in Nigeria?

The first time I complained to my friend that the lecturer was reading verbatim from the textbook, the same textbook available to me, he laughed. Mockingly, he said, “Good morning ma’am, how would you like your coffee?’ But it wasn’t me he was mocking; he was mocking the educational system he had gotten used to.


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Three days ago, I was woken up with the news of the decision at the 2017 combined policy meeting on admissions in tertiary institutions to reduce the cut off mark for jamb from 200 to 120. I was disturbed. Later in the evening, I went on Twitter and saw the news was already trending. I questioned the veracity of this news, but the possibility that it could be true made me wonder what is really going on in Nigeria.

I was privileged to leave Nigeria after my secondary school education for the UK for Advanced Levels studies for two years. I vividly remember the first essay I wrote. I basically copied the textbook and twisted a few words as I was used to doing. I remember Bob, my religious studies teacher, telling me that though the work was good, it wasn’t what he wanted. He didn’t want me to copy, he wanted me to think. To think for myself. To think outside the box. To challenge. To have my own opinion and back it up.

Thankfully, it didn’t take too long for me to start shedding my old skin and start embracing the new way education was passed on. I would later remember his words when I had to write my first essay on law of obligations in my first year at the University. Three years in University deepened the lesson I learnt that day and I came love how Education was challenging as it stimulated me mentally, intellectually and in other regards.

I am presently in the Nigerian Law school doing the compulsory Bar 1 programme that those that studied abroad are expected to do. I expected things to be different as I have heard stories that made me shake my head from friends that studied in Nigerian universities. But those were stories and somehow, I was distant from them. So, I guess I didn’t really understand them. But trust Nigeria to make you understand what you don’t wish to understand. The first time I complained to my friend that the lecturer was reading verbatim from the textbook, the same textbook available to me, he laughed. Mockingly, he said, “Good morning ma’am, how would you like your coffee?”

But it wasn’t me he was mocking; he was mocking the educational system he had gotten used to. He and some of my other friends told me that I would get used to it. I later conceded that I will get used to it, although, I don’t want to. Poor teaching is not something to get used to.

“I love how you are impressed that a lecturer actually did his job,” another friend told me sometime later. This was after I told her excitedly about the lecturer that came and didn’t read to me like I were a primary school child just learning how to read. He actually taught. He added to the knowledge I had acquired from reading the textbook before coming to class and for that, I was very grateful as I had not had many who actually taught me since I got here. We laughed about it, but really, it was and is sad that I was impressed that the lecturer actually did what I consider to be education. He and the few others like him became the exception, as opposed to the norm.

Education is important. This I’ve been told by my parents since I was a little child, and so they ensured I had what they considered the best. Many children have also been rightly told that education is important, but I’m forced to consider how important it is to Nigeria with the way education is paid attention to. When I heard about the recent ASUU strike, I was shamefully numb to it because it is not new. But I was not numb when I read about the reduced jamb cut off mark. The question I asked and I’m still asking is why?

What is Education in Nigeria?

Nigeria occupies 145th position in primary education advancement in the world’s record (as at the last time I checked). Nigeria is also the 152nd out of 187 countries in the UN’s human development index. The question is still why?

I told my friend that if the cut off mark is so reduced, what motivation is there for the student to strive to work harder? My friend calculated it and said a student only needs to get 30 marks in each subject to make the cut off mark. Arguably, this development makes it easier for students that wish to go to university, but what does it say about standard of education if we are making it easier for people to aspire to be mediocre? What does it say about the future of a country which is already faced with high levels of poor educational attainment?

What does it say about the future and ability of Nigerians that study in Nigeria to compete globally?

Will certificates from Nigerian universities become the subject of mockery?

“There used to be so much value on teaching and education in Nigeria,” my mum once said, thinking back to her days. “Now, many teachers in many states are being owed salaries. How are they expected to cope and what motivation is there to really teach?” she further stated.

I said nothing, but I knew in my mind that the masses will suffer and Nigeria will suffer for this in the long run. If the teachers are not being paid, if there is no proper teacher training, if there are poor teaching resources, what then is the point of sending these kids to school?

Asides that, we have another serious pending issue. What really is the motivation for education in Nigeria when there are no jobs, no capital to seize opportunities and little opportunities flying around? What reward is there for those that choose to be educated?

I watched a video where Adams Oshiomole, the former governor of Edo state, and some other people surrounded a supposed teacher who found it difficult to read. He had given her something to read and I watched sadly as she struggled to pronounce the words and as she pronounced many words wrongly. He had to interject her many times to correct her. Others watched in amusement and did not fail to laugh. It wasn’t funny! It was disgusting. This was a teacher expected to pass knowledge to students. What then is she teaching? What does it say about quality of education in Nigeria?

We are battling with standard of education. We are battling with quality of education. We are battling with regurgitating what the teacher passes rather than being allowed to think for ourselves and challenge the status quo. We are battling with strikes. We are battling with lack of resources. We are battling with unpaid salaries to teachers. We are battling with a lack of reward for the delayed gratification of being educated… and what is our response? Further reduction of standard of education.

We are static… and static is backwardness.What is Education in Nigeria? I really don’t know. But I do know that I’m grateful to have known different. But how many Nigerians can say that?


  1. CeeCee
    “A healthy and ideal system of education would be where a teacher would patiently impart knowledge, instead of curriculum, upon the students, only after assessing their acceptability – where a student would acquire knowledge in order to learn, not to earn – where the parents would be willing to make necessary sacrifices in order to adorn their child with curiosity and thereafter nourish that curiosity, regardless of how absurdly impractical it becomes to the eyes of the society.”

    “The craving for security has conditioned the society to perceive education not as an endeavor of the mind, rather as a preprogrammed task created by some sophisticated, illusory structure known as the “system of education”. Education means breaking free from the manacles of limitations put forward by primitive ignorance. Yet today’s fake education is gloriously founded upon the basic element of “limitation”. And the authorities of this so-called education often take pride in their ship shape structure where they manufacture dumb manikins.”

  2. Mo
    Sad, just sad…

    Who decides on these things, really, the school slots can’t even take the number of people that pass 200, so, what is the goal, really?

    All of this is confusing. To tell you the truth, i didn’t give much thought to the reduced Jamb score… I mean if Lagos State could decide to take out Biology from the curriculum of Arts&Commercial Students, and then, put it right back in the same year. *Sigh

  3. Wizzlyn
    You don’t need to read to get 180 in Jamb. How much more 120. Nigeria is a shame. I have always looked forward to the day that Unilag, OAU, Unilorin, Uniben, ABU, UI would peg their admission at 300. Top schools should set a standard so that who wanna go there would sit up. Soon others would follow suit by moving to 230, 250 etc. WTF is 120? (sorry for my vulgarity – i’m sad)
  4. ElishaFlemming
    The point is Even with the reduction in the scores, Students will still need to bribe their way in. The corruption has eaten so deep, I’ll just conclude that being a student in the present educational system in Nigeria is a waste of time and energy. Go to school for five years, whether you do copy and paste or you use your head or you sort, you will still graduate. at the end the job goes to someone who has a someone that knows a someone. But why all the stress? I would do business in still the same 5years and blow before you. If not for my parents and societal pressure, some of us no go even near school gate for Naija…
    Its as bad as that!

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