Lack of knowledge causes strikes in educational systems

The great nations in Western Europe are about 2000 years old. China, India, Korea and Japan are over 2000 years old. The citizens of these nations suffered for thousands of years when the nations were ruled by kings and land was the only resource and all the citizens were tied to the soil. Many of the learned Nigerians today did not read history. The Nigerian educational systems do not see history as an important area of knowledge. The result is that Nigeria is a nation without a sense of history repeating the errors Asian and European nations made in the past. Asian and European kings did not need education; they reasoned that it may spoil the people and make them to say and ask questions that would annoy and embarrass the kings. There were no public educational systems in Asia and Europe for thousands of years. Consequently, the nations did not have the knowledge to prompt rapid growth and development. Nigeria is dying because of lack of the knowledge of the development process. The as-given education which Nigerian governments have tolerated for decades could not provide the knowledge to guide the nation.

Yes! The African educational system is a colonial heritage. It has been implemented as Britain gave it to African nations including Nigeria. So the Nigerian education is still being implemented “as given.” There has been nothing in substance added or subtracted from the educational systems Britain gave to Nigeria.

Unfortunately, the Nigerian educational system is dominated by Western social sciences (economics, sociology, psychology, political science, etc.) and related areas of knowledge like accounting, banking and finance, law, administration, etc. Western social sciences do not understand how nations develop and the special role of education in the process. The process of transforming an economy from the agricultural status into an industrialized one is scientific. Western social science is not science like the physical and biological sciences and cannot be the intellectual premise for managing industrialization – a scientific process. No one solves the problem s/he does not understand. Western social sciences existed for over a century before the Western industrial revolution (IR), which began in England in the period 1770-1850. Western social sciences did not pre-empt the IR and they have not explained what led to it.

The IR in the West was a consequence of the evolutionary development of the artisan-industry. If Western social sciences did not promote industrialization in the West, how could they promote industrialization in Africa? Consequent to the lack of understanding of the development process and lack of understanding of the specific role of education in promoting rapid development, those who work in the as-given educational sector including all categories of teachers are unable to marshal intelligent arguments to motivate society and government to provide the necessary inputs that the Nigerian educational systems need to promote rapid development. This is the basis of the frequent strikes in the Nigerian educational systems over the years.

The Nigerian university educational system has always been tolerated by Nigerian governments since the administration of Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) in the early 1970s. Nigerian governments think they do not need it but the people like it. It is a dilemma for the government. Nigerian Governments are forced to tolerate the educational systems. The nation had to be drifting, walking head-down and doing disjointed things pretending to be planning for national growth and development.

Western education merely indoctrinates; it does not educate. Western social sciences are indoctrination packages which make Africans think and do things the way they ought not to do (Heinecke, 1986). Western social sciences should be offered at the postgraduate level alone in Nigeria. Nigeria needs educational systems that will produce people who can think, nation-builders. All educational programmes in Nigeria today may be sub-divided into the following 7 categories: 1) Science and science-based, 2) Arts and Arts-based, 3) Social sciences and social sciences-based, 4) Education, 5) Arts-based education, 6) Social sciences-based education and 7) Science-based education. To establish the educational systems Nigeria needs, only categories 1) and 2) – Science and science-based programmes and Arts and Arts-based programmes, should be offered in pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary educational levels. All other forms of education offered today, categories 3)-7) should be offered at the post-graduate level, alone. This means that whereas science, applied science and engineering, Arts and Arts-based education, alone, should be offered in pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary education in Nigeria, all social sciences, social sciences-based, education, public and business administration and law should be offered at the postgraduate level, alone. Geography should be offered with sciences. But philosophy (arts) and medicine (science) should also be studied at the post-graduate level alone.

The proposed educational systems will enable Nigerians to put Western social sciences in their proper places and produce nation-builders.

The 89pp + v booklet: “The crisis in the Social Sciences – The Nigerian Situation,” is a reprint of the Inaugural Lecture presented in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, on October 6th, 1976 by IKenna Nzimiro, a Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology. Nzimiro in the lecture observed that the development of social theories emerges as thinkers ruminate upon the social problems of their times.

Each stage in the development of civilization, therefore, has its intellectual doyens, irrespective of the way they conceptualized man’s existence in society. When any social theory cannot give man insight into the workings of his society, and cannot therefore guide his actions, then that theory is in crisis. It is in the crisis of irrelevance. Western social sciences have crisis of irrelevance in Africa, including Nigeria.

In such a situation, a re-examination of the existing theory and the substitution of old ideas with new ones become imperative. Otherwise, human society will decay mentally, and culturally. This has been the experience of all civilizations. The crisis of ideas occurs from time to time and from generation to generation.

Ogbimi is Emeritus Professor of Technology Management


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