Education As The Pivot Of Societal Development
Education is synonymous with the existence of human societies. It can be explained to mean the medium through which the society transmits its cultural heritage to its younger generations. The education of any society usually reflects its whole essence. This means that it encapsulates its philosophy and way of life. The education of any society involves the transmission of all knowledge that is deemed worthwhile.
Education therefore performs a most significant complex social function of the control of tools for societal development. Recognizing the role of education to the individual and society at large Dienye (2004) noted that education involved the deliberate efforts on the part of the educator in developing the personality of the child and to prepare him for membership of his society.
The meaning and function of education is aptly captured by Ukeje (1986:8) when he concluded thus: Education is power. It is a process of acquiring knowledge and ideas that shape and condition man’s attitudes, actions and achievements, it is a process of developing the child’s contributions in social reforms; it is the process of mastering the laws of nature and for utilizing them effectively for the welfare of the individual and for social reconstruction; it is the art of utilizing knowledge for a complete living.
WHAT IS SOCIETAL DEVELOPMENT?
Development can be explained to mean different things depending on the subject matter of discourse. Development as defined by Nwabueze (1995) is a progressive unfolding of the potentialities of a given reality. It has to do with the integration of the various givings, natural and physical acquired by people towards the full working out, permanently and cumulatively of the being as persons of their nations and their real productivity. Development can also be seen as a positive improvement in the overall lifestyle and circumstances of the citizens of a society. This is usually measured in socio-economic terms using indices such as economic growth, industrialization, level of technology, healthcare system, self-sufficiency in food and good governance.
Societal development can also be seen as “the process by which people recreate themselves and their life circumstances to realize higher levels of civilizations in accordance with their own choices and values” (Ake 2001:125). He maintained that development is something members of society have to do by themselves. He however pointed out that it can also be facilitated through the help of others. Members of society are the end agents and means of development.
Education As The Pivot Of Societal Development
Quality education is indispensable in a society that needs to break the cycle of poverty, ignorance and disease. It is an integral part of the social, political, economical and prosperity of all societies. Societal development can only be realised if policy makers match their words with positive actions. A society whose education system is in shambles cannot expect any reasonable level of development when policy makers pay lip service to issues that border on improving the education system, development will continue to be a mirage.
Briggs (2010) noted with dismay the massive rot at all levels of the nation’s education. He asserted that a situation where students learn under trees without seats leaves much to be desired. He pointed out that the little successes recorded are found among the few well equipped expensive with qualified and dedicated teachers. In his words “in all educational levels there are no commensurate resources to provide for a quality education system to work.
The issue of government reluctance to adequately fund the education sector shows lack of commitment on the part of the government to ensure quality education. Recent World Bank report on the funding of the sector by the federal government revealed gross irregularities as (World Bank’s, 2008) shows that even though funding increased N30.6 billion in 1999 to N205.2 billion in 2007 expenditures on education was rather on the decline. Increase in funding never translated into a commensurate improvement in the provision of needed infrastructure, facilities and equipment needed to improve the sector.
Effective teaching and adequate teacher training at all levels of the education system is very crucial in the achievement of quality education and development. The school is an important agency of education needed to bring about a positive and desirable modification in behavior of learners in a more systematic way, the quality of teaching must be very good to yield desired results. A high quality education is required to adequately prepare pupils for adult life roles. What this translates to is a type of education that is functional. Effective teaching in this case means what Zeilberger (1961) referred to as teachers striving to develop the intellectual abilities of the child rather than force feeding with facts that are easily forgotten. He described these facts forced on learners as foreign substances without any connection to the child’s life. He rather advocated the use of functional instruction which will enable the learner gain thinking habits and develop the technical means needed for them. He pointed out that this would enhance their ability in solving practical problems.
Obanya (2003) explained Zelberger’s idea of functional education to mean that education should inculcate specific skills. These functional skills acquired from education are to enable learners to understand life situations, adapting to it and contributing to its development.
He further explained that functional education in basic literacy programmes has to do with the application of reading and writing skills to solve day to day problems, which includes the improvement of one’s living conditions. For persons with disabilities, a functional education should equip the learner with the skills that will enable him overcome the disabilities while in vocational education it should inculcate appropriate skills to fill the labour market.
A functional education should imbue the learner with skills that will lead to the consolidation of scientific behaviour. In teacher training, a quality education should be functional to the extent that it equips the teachers with the appropriate aptitudes and abilities needed to promote learning and bring out the best in learners. Functional education as an integral part of quality education is focused on helping learners acquire the skills with which to function meaningfully in society thereby contributing to societal development.
For education to contribute to societal development, the type of education offered the citizenry must be relevant to the needs of that society. The system should be such that a level of autonomy is allowed. Autonomy here means a situation whereby individuals have the ability to judge, act and think accurately as well as rationally.
The development of the society depends on the extent to which education can be an instrument for identifying personal, social goals and objectives. Its relevance is usually determined by its level of efficiency and effectiveness in accomplishing set goals. The relevance of an education system to the needs of society determines the extent of development of that society for as Akinpelu (2001) asserted, education without quality is more dangerous than no education at all.
Policy makers must be made by educationists and all stakeholders to realize that quality in education cannot be compromised if Nigeria will meet the challenges of the 21st Century. The mass exodus of Nigeria to look for quality education outside Nigeria is a sad development which puts a question sign of the quality of higher education system.
One of the national goals of Nigerian education apply the importance of education for the development of a sustainable economy when it stated that “acquisition of appropriate skills and development of the mental, physical, social abilities and competencies as equipment for the individual to live and contribute to the development of the society” (FRN 2004:8). Ochuba (2008) pointed out that the goals of education can only be achieved through a well articulated and effectively coordinated school system. He posited that the development of quality human capital depends greatly on effective checks and balances in the education industry through regular supervision and inspection of schools.
The issue of qualification, integrity and attitude to work and research has to be adequately addressed. Ivowi (2005) advocated sufficient exposure of academic staff in tertiary institutions to internal seminars, conferences, courses and exchange programmes to enable them get acquainted with new techniques, practices and knowledge. This he said would ensure the sustainability of the system and quality output. There is also the need to ensure a higher ratio of professors and senior non academic staff who support the engineering workshop and laboratories. All these will ensure quality education at the tertiary level.
Achieving societal development through quality education is also dependent on how ready the government is in addressing the issue of facilities at all levels of the education system. At the secondary school level there is the need for more classrooms to reduce the number of students per classroom for effective teaching and learning. Libraries, laboratories and workshops should be provided and expanded to enhance learning.
Equipments and tools need to be updated and maintained at the tertiary level to ensure quality learning and skills acquisition. Teaching and learning facilities like textbooks, PowerPoint presentation facilities and a public address system need to be adequately provided to enhance learning.
The issue of discipline among academic staff has to be adequately addressed. Cases of poor attitude to work affect the quality of output. A system where lecturers still dictate notes to students without discussion and explanation leaves much to be desired. A complete commitment on the part of the academic staff will reduce cases of forcing students to buy handouts without making contact with them for proper intellectual interactions. Learners need to consolidate what they have read and broaden their knowledge through discussions and practical sessions. Both staff and learners need to always update their techniques in ICT. Academic staff should be so computer driven that they know the best search engines and websites to direct students for further knowledge. Quality assurance at all levels of education is necessary ingredient for the development of the society. Policy makers must as a matter of urgency ensure that all agencies responsible for ensuring standards and benchmarks for maintaining quality in education live up to expectations. The Nigerian University Commission NUC, National Board of Technical Education and the National Commission for Colleges of Education must ensure proper implementation of programmes to maintain quality of delivery and output.
Citizenship and entrepreneurial education should if properly monitored and implemented to ensure development of the individual as well as manpower. Adapting innovations in programmes and teacher education for developing countries to suit the peculiarities of Nigeria would ensure quality education which will impact positively on society.
For society to develop, a lot of overhauling is needed within the educational system to achieve quality education. There is the need for an examination of how social forces combine with philosophies of education to shape a society’s education purpose. An examination of how and why Nigeria’s education goals and objectives were formulated. Issues like the major themes of recent policy reports on education need to be examined. The goals of education must be re-examined to see how they translate into curriculum and teaching.
As suggested by Ornstein and Levine (2006), current changes in the society, knowledge, beliefs about the nature of learners should determine the goals of teachers.
Modifications in prevailing philosophies and theories should be determined by changes in social forces which include society in general, development in science and technology, new methods of processing and storing information. It also includes organizing and defining fields of study like new theories of the learning process.
Society will develop if education policy makers embrace a positive and proactive attitude towards planning. Arbitrary, unplanned and uncoordinated expansions in the education sector especially recently in the tertiary sector should be avoided if quality education is to be achieved. The alarm raised by the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Professor Julius Okojie that most of the private universities are manned by half baked lecturers lends credence to the fact that quality education and development cannot result from arbitrary establishment of universities without proper planning. Private universities are to be monitored for proper accreditation.
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