The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently reported that Nigeria has about 70 percent of its children trapped in the mud of a learning crisis.
The statistics further disclosed that 53 percent of Nigerian children within 10 years could neither read nor write.
No doubt the development is very worrisome. It portends a bleak future for the country and the younger generations. If this is allowed to continue then our youth will become globally irrelevant in a matter of years.
The federal government recently admitted that the country has the highest number of children out of school in the world with about 10.5 million children not being educated.
The learning crisis simply put is a massive waste of talent and human potential. It is a global pandemic that affects children and adolescents the more.
It can rightly be said that the learning crisis in Nigeria is a value chain thing that is to say one problem leads to the other. It is a calabash with different faces that manifests in different dimensions.
For instance, the quality of teachers in the sector is functional to the quality of remuneration. And because the pay in the education fraternity is not attractive enough, most of the people in the jobs are unqualified personnel.
The low public spending on education at about 1.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product is partly responsible for the learning crisis. Comparatively, Nigeria is far below Finland in terms of expenditure on education.
Finland in 2019 had its education expenditure accounted for 5.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Hence, the Nemo rule that states, “no one gives what he doesn’t have”, will always come to play. Teachers’ motivation package, especially in the Nigerian public schools is not good enough.
Many teachers engage in side hustles to make ends meet, thereby neglecting their main duty to impact the children.
Besides, research has shown that from teachers’ preparatory development, foundational things are neglected. A teacher is as good as what he or she knows. Many teachers are still using outdated methods and books which other countries no longer use.
Children learn better when it is fun and not the other way round. Modern methods uphold teaching children with playful activities such as obtainable in Jolly Phonics.
Jolly Phonics training is meant to expose young teachers to a better way of inculcating the acts and arts of reading and writing in children.
As a matter of fact, it is now being used in over 100 countries worldwide.
Another issue is the poverty level in the country. Many parents ordinarily find it difficult to send their children to school simply because they cannot afford the money.
According to the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics, 39.1 percent of Nigerians lived below the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day in 2018/19.
Poverty, no doubt affects learning in all dimensions, which is a cogent reason the federal government needs to address unemployment and unemployment in addressing the learning crisis.
Similarly, low enrolment at a basic level and attendance at primary and secondary levels find a bearing on the aforementioned and insecurity.
In 2021, there were 25 attacks on schools. 1,440 children were abducted, and 16 children were killed. No fewer than 618 schools were closed in six northern states (Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Niger, and Yobe) over the fear of attack and abduction of pupils and members of staff.
In the southeast, the secessionists enforced a sit-at-home order every Monday of the week, limiting the school days to just four. In fact, this unholy act hindered many children from writing some papers in the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE)
With about 10.5 million Nigerian children of school-going age not in schools, enrolment of children into schools as low as 12 percent in some states insecurity should not be undermined.
A conducive environment is needed for transformative learning to take place; hence, Nigeria needs to intensify investment in school infrastructure.
The government needs to build more classrooms and increase the number of desks. Other school infrastructures include and are not limited to well-equipped libraries, laboratories, open fields for games, games equipment, and sanitation facilities, among others.
In addition, the government needs to prioritise monitoring and evaluation of its budget spending on education, so the country can begin to see the enormous implication of not following through on every milestone in the goal.