WHAT IS EDUCATION?
By the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, “education” is a process of training and instruction especially of children and young people in schools and colleges etc. which is designed to give knowledge and develop skills.
Education as we know it today takes place throughout life from basic education which teaches Nursery and Primary school students reading, writing and arithmetic skills to Secondary school education which prepares students for Higher Education. We have Universities or Polytechnic education to provide technical and specialized skills for obtaining more rewarding careers. Other types of education include continuing education and professional development courses which provide information or expand people’s working knowledge and help them to take advantage of future career opportunities.
Education is not about schooling alone. In fact, Mark Twain had this to say “I never let schooling interfere with my education” This is a truism our group of schools has attempted to explain in the past through a write-up “Am I a student or just an attendant at school?” We have also emphasized this through many after-school programs to show that education is made up of both classroom and non-classroom experiences. Non-classroom experiences are also covered by your relationship with your friends and your socialization through your parents, neighbors, churches, mosques and the society at large. This has made someone (Henry Drummond) to state that “Life is not a holiday but an education”.
The purpose of education as the Bible (Psalm 90) says however , is to “teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom” To connect wisdom to happiness let us quote the Bible again “Only a wise man knows what things really means. Wisdom makes him smile and make his frowns disappear” (Ecclesiastes 8:1). In other words, education should lead to wisdom and wisdom should lead to happiness in life.
Earlier we stated that education is designed to give skills and knowledge. But does knowing lead to wisdom? For this, let us consider a truism stated by a man of God called C.H. Spurgeon. He says “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
This leads us to a truism to be studied later about how we use the knowledge and skills we learn in schools and ultimately to the one great fact that God is the author and finisher of all our being and happiness.
Today, students, parents, educators, employers and government are changing the educational system from what it used to be, they are taking advantage of information technology, developing business – education partnerships or programs and using value-based performance objectives and measures in order to have a better educated and happier workforce. But are they succeeding?
THE 3 TYPES OF SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN NIGERIA
There is a lot of truth in the saying that education is not about schooling alone. And believe it or not schooling which we mistakenly call education in our country is nightmarish to the average Nigeria child. As a matter of fact the schooling types we now have can be classified as follows
a) Buckingham Palace (Top grade private secondary schools)
b) I “Pass my Neighbor” (Average grade private and public secondary schools)
c) Boko Haram (Low grade private and public secondary schools)
All the same education remains the best option for empowering not only children but adults alike for contributing to the social, economic and political fabric of the society. Although parents are aware of the importance of education and are desirous to give their children the best, many of them are unfortunately uninformed about the best way to achieve their hearts desires. The inability of staff in teaching and students in applying appropriate teaching techniques have also led to repeated failures in both internal and external examinations causing frustration and disappointment to students and their parents.
As we have said before we educators today must come to terms with the realities of our schools and the info-tech age. The methods used in the past to educate us are in the main not relevant to our children. There are too many distractions calling for their attention within the limited time available for studies. Unfortunately many students are often mistakenly labeled as lazy or lacking in concentration! But by the time you take out school hours, class assignments, home chores, family socials and commitments, PREMIER / CHAMPIONS LEAGUES, FACE BOOK/TWITTERS, IPOD/IPAD, BIG BROTHER AFRICA, NAIJA SINGS, NIGERIAN/AMERICAN IDOLS, X-FACTOR, BACHELORETTE, hand-held phones and web roaming one is left to ponder when these children can read seriously or ever take their studies seriously! Compare these to their parents who probability had only BONANZA, VILLAGE HEADMASTER AND IICC V RANGERS FOOTBALL MATCHES as “distracters”.
Above all, we know they have different abilities and competencies. Don’t we? Unfortunately many parents are under the illusion that sending children to boarding houses will limit students’ propensities for some of these time- eaters. What they seem to forget is that those dedicated teachers and boarding housemasters of old have faded away and only a few of those left are comparable. These days we have those who want to be bribed by parents for “taking care of their children” or “for organizing extra classes” for them.
So what needs to be done? This is where EDUPEDIA and its series of books under EDUGUIDE come in. If we had read books such as these in our secondary school days we would probably have graduated with top honors all the way to the University. Yes we had Grade 1 in WAEC but life was less complicated and distractions were few compared to what students face today. By the time we were in university we had been preloaded with some of the skills you are about to read in these books. But if the same programs are to be used to promote life skills to students today students would see them as through a glass darkly.
After University and while taking professional examinations from Nigeria and England we were lucky to come across a few teachers who opened our eyes about studying and taking examinations. But it was when we opened our tutorial and regular schools that the need and contents for this book started gathering steam from day-to-day problems we had to take care of over 25 years.
Our conclusion is that many schools need to reorder their time tables to conform to the National Education Policy’s specifications on Educational Support Services. These sections should be looked at closely and activated as we have done. Each school should consider specific programs to cover Academic, Co-curricula and Remedial aspects of education for their students.
TO BE CONTINUED