“Education is a thing of the mind”- Maria Montessori. Education in Nigeria didn’t start with colonialism it started with the beginning of life in the African continent. Enoch (1996) stated that “traditional African education is not — admired for the mere fact of its being indigenous to Africa, rather a mere permanent, justification thought”. Before the British arrived in the early nineteenth century, there were two major types of education in Nigeria. The first was the Islamic religion education in Arabic of Northern Nigeria and the second is the indigenous education.
Everything was enough and orderly in an organized state, without reading and writing, there were languages, taught, life basics at different levels. At the time, the elementary science of healing, science of farming, and also of rearing of animals was fascinating without actual synthesize or machineries Africans educated themselves on how to use what they have to develop their own society.
All this was before the British colonized Africa and brought Christianity and renamed all we had to be called primitive. We were awesome at what we did before colonization came to label Africans primitive. Among other things Colonialism brought education, with the missionaries in 1814. The colonial brand of education viewed education as a “central body of essential knowledge that must be transmitted to all who came to school” (Wango 1978). It started with just teaching the language of the colonizers to people (colonized) who were to be known as translators who helped the British missionaries to communicate with the congregation. Colonialism castigated everything we had from traditions to normal everyday etiquettes so as to create the colonial world in a colonized land.
To the Europeans the aim of introducing western education in Nigeria was to fit the ordinary individual to fill a useful part in his environment and to ensure that the exceptional individual shall use his abilities for advancement of the community and not to its detriment, or to the subversion of constituted authority.
Education ever since then has evolved tremendously unlike other sectors going wild and wide to meet international standards or better world standard even with our curriculum. It would be no news though to find out that the origin of that curriculum so to speak is westernization because like every other path we’ve chosen as a country westernization was our mother.
At one-point orientalism came in place in the educational sector of Nigeria. The curriculum so to speak is incomplete as it lacks cogent tutoring on specific aspects of our black culture or history. It has been disorganized to rhyme totally with another man’s culture. Because our history and culture are rich enough to educate our own if only, we would do the needful and grow or expand our own things. Education cannot be limited to writing and speaking alone, it holds more capacity to do more in development and societal growth.
The colonial brand of education was essentialist by orientation which viewed with reference, an aim of education that sought the spiritual purification of the learner. This essentialist aim of education is upheld in Nigerian education; thus, it is clearly stated in the national policy on education (2004) that Nigerian education is meant to develop the child spiritually. The colonial education system focused strongly on examinations. Most points given to a school’s performance went to the numbers and rankings of its examination results.
This emphasis on examination is still in use today to judge educational results, performance and to obtain qualification for jobs in government and private sectors perhaps this might explain why many of Nigerian students are involved in examination malpractices which make it possible for undeserving candidates to obtain high grades and certificates that they cannot defend. Colonial education also affected Nigerian indigenous system of education. This was because the missionaries were after formal training of the mind, for this reason they encouraged boarding accommodation so as to supervise, control and direct the learner along proper lines (Nnamdi 2002).
The world as moved from the way it was before, that’s what our Education should do too. The Nigerian curriculum is outdated and backward as it adds not exact value than reading and writing like it did in the past. With the pandemic, a lot has to change, away from what used to and what is supposed to be.
A people’s system of education should reflect first their culture before any other culture that’s what true and real education is actually, we can’t achieve so much if we let go of our own ways to learn the ways of others as though we were blind before they came along, it’s all in the mind and that’s what education is meant to change.
Teacher Advocate & Quality Teaching Expert