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Relationship between Education and Politics in Nigeria

See the Relationship between Education and Politics in Nigeria. Education they say is the best legacy right? But politics and the political climate of a country affects the kind of education students will get. A state will always like to teach its political ideologies in its schools, therefore it can be said that politics shapes education and education in turn modifies politics. This article is an attempt at understanding the relationship between education and politics in Nigeria.

Relationship between Education and Politics in Nigeria

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We would all agree that it is impossible to separate politics from education, especially in Nigerian government schools; perhaps we would wish politics wouldn’t exert any influence over education, but again this would just be a wish.

This relationship is something everyone should be concerned about, as it is not restricted to a particular sector of the economy; it concerns everyone from the politicians themselves to parents and the industry (as the educational system prepares the students for work in the industries).

Concept of politics; as usual we will start the definition of the important concepts. Of course there are many definitions for this concept. The BBC English dictionary defines politics as the study of the way in which people are governed; it is also the activities in which people use to achieve power in a country. It is also has been defined as the governing of men and women.

Harold Lasswell, an American political scientist defines politics as who gets what, when and how, now that is the exact way Nigerians understand politics, and to a great extent it is also the reality in all of black Africa. Politics involves the allocation of scarce social, economic and cultural resources to individuals, groups, regions and classes.

Politics has also been defined as the governing of men/women. Among academics, politics is often defined as the authoritative allocation of values. Emphasis is put on how resources are allocated by the system of authorities in society.

Politics could also be defined as all activities that are directly or indirectly associated with the emergence, consolidation and use of state power. Some also see politics as a civilizing agent and a way of ruling in divided society without violence.

Concept of education; education is now considered a basic human right, but it wasn’t always so.  It was once considered the sole privilege of the rich and influential in the society, it wasn’t then controlled by the state. For example the Greek philosopher, Plato had his academy just outside of Athens, there his philosophy was taught. This school of thought has come to be known as Platoism, in the time of Socrates and Plato and other Greek philosophers this was pretty much how people got educated. Only rulers and other influential families could afford such luxuries.  Education took other forms in other climes, in some places like in the middle-east; it was mainly religious, as Hebrew children were taught to read the Torah in the synagogue. Education which has been defined by some as the training of mind and character for effective performance did not become a basic human right until sometime in the 20th century.  In our time education and educational policies are mainly controlled by the government.

Relationship between politics and education in Nigeria

It has been stated in the past that politics and education don’t mix, but we have now realized how untrue this is. It is actually very difficult to separate politics from education in Nigeria; politicians have always been at the fore front of education. In our time the government has used education as a tool for producing skilled workers, and knowledgeable personnel. The expansion of industry and technology is proportional to the amount of qualitative education received by the citizens of a country.

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Before independence the case was quite different; for instance, there was collaboration between the state and the church in education. The missionaries used the establishment of schools for purposes of conversion, the education of would be lay readers, catechists, teachers and other literate personnel for commercial houses. The British colonial government when they came had a different agenda. Its own purpose was mainly to produce literate and clerical staff who would keep the colony in a subordinate position for continued exploitation.

According to some Nigerian researchers, a distinction has been made between two types of politics in Nigerian schools; micropolitics and macropolitics. The term micropolitics refers to the use of formal and informal power by individuals and groups to achieve their goals in organizations. Cooperative and conflictive processes are integral components of micropolitics. Conversely, macropolitics refers to how power is used and decision making is conducted at district, state and federal levels. Macropolitics is generally considered to have noted that micro and macropolitics may exist at any level of school systems depending on circumstance.

The educational system is in a way an extension of the political system, education is funded by government and propagated by its policies. So the educators are very reliant on the politicians, if the educational system is well funded and good policies are enacted, and then the politicians and the educators can coexist peacefully.

The government needs the educational system as much as the educational system needs it, because schools can be used to inculcate and spread a political party’s ideology. Some governments who have used that to their advantage (that is spreading their ideology) include Germany while Hitler led, Lenin’s Russia and some African governments.

The state enacts educational policies, for example the 6-3-3-4 system of education which was once adopted in Nigerian. The educational curriculum of Nigeria is modeled after those of metropolitan countries, developed countries. This kind of education is inimical to the proper growth and development of Nigerians, as it doesn’t put into consideration our stage in development, diverse cultures and languages. Our native languages are put on the back burner in our schools and history is not taught.

The decline in our educational system can be placed at the door steps of the politicians. They are in-charge of appointing commissioners and other leaders in the educational system, and a lot of times these people are not employed based on competence but based on political affiliations and who they know.   Also the non payments of salaries and non fulfillment of promises made by the government is not helping our educational system. All these lead to strikes which further cripples our educational system.

The policy of sending people with the lowest Jamb scores (the least intelligent people) to Colleges of Education is also not very good for our education.  In countries like Finland and Japan which are top 5 amongst countries with the best educational system, the reverse is the case. The top ten percent of their students are sent to teacher training colleges, and they are paid as well as doctors, lawyers and other professionals. If this is done in Nigeria we can expect the best brains in our schools, because teachers will be able to pay their bills while teaching.

So until the government of Nigeria takes education as seriously as it takes foreign exchange, the teachers can only do so much. The educational policies need to be good, and executors of these policies need also to be good. This is the relationship between education and politics in Nigeria.

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Chinedu Oparah

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