A University of Ibadan (UI) lecturer and a Professor of African Literature, Oral Poetics & Performance, Department of English, Demola Dasylva, has bemoaned what he described as critical gap in the nation’s foundational education, saying as long as the country fails to address this gap, the apparent educational challenges will persist. This was even as the don condemned in strong terms the takeover of schools run by religious missions by various state government in the 70s and 80s, saying the take-over of the schools led to the total decay which is being witnessed today in the school system. Dasylva disclosed this in his reactions to a lecture entitled: “Public Education in the 21st Century:
A Reappraisal of the Nigerian Education System Since Independence,” being the maiden annual lecture of Rehoboth Dream Solid Foundation. He, however, called on the government to return such schools to their mission owners to run in the best tradition that would serve positively the people, insisting that it is a herculean task no doubt, but that there was no escaping route if the issue should be left unattended to.
“There is a critical gap that we either deliberately ignored, or quite oblivious of, and that is the critical gap is foundational, and as long as we fail to courageously address it, so long shall the apparent challenges in the country’s education sector persist,” he said.According to the don, Nigeria is an amalgam of many nations having different peculiarities; worldviews, including religion and sundry traditions; cultural values; languages; among others, as a people bound by the same language, worldviews and traditions, and hence Nigerians have every right to their vision and aspiration, the right to determine their collective goal, and design appropriate education to process and drive their collective vision.
Tracing the history of the nation’s education development, Dasylva recalled that before the advent of Islamic and Christian religions, the existing nations of indigenous societies in the north, east and west possessed all of these, but added that the advent of colonialism led to the coersion of these indigenous nations into a monolithic country. He said: “It is erroneous to assume that formal education came with Christianity and colonialism. There existed long before the advent of colonial education, formal and informal indigenous education.
The concept of formal education as we use it today is misleading. It is the first fundamental error that must be corrected. The second error was the coersion of the different nations into a country and forcing the same education policies on them.
“The north largely embraced Islam and Arabic education, language and culture since the time of Kanem-Bornu Empire, centuries before the British colonialism, so the idea of considering them as uneducated folks, again, is erroneous and misleading.” As part of the way forward, the lecturer said the six geo-political zones that constitute the federating units, should be allowed to design their economic, educational, cultural, including language, policies that best suit them.
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