By Rashid A. Aderinoye.
November 11, 2015.
The transmission of valuable, worthwhile experiences and culture is universally done through the teaching–learning process. It has to be emphasised that education is concerned with the process of transmitting all that is acceptable, good, and worthwhile in any culture such as; knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, which support the individual as he strives to survive in the environment where he lives. Thus, the fulcrum of the educational process is usually the teacher and learner: both adopt and response to varying techniques or strategies to ensure that learning takes place in the learning environment.
Remember the Motto of NTI, which states that no nation can grow beyond the education of its teachers. It is also a statement of fact that no nation can grow and make meaningful contribution to modern politics, economy, and socio-cultural development with its mass population being illiterate. Since education serves as an instrument or mechanism of change in the life of people or a nation, schools and varied programmes are, therefore, established to help in accomplishing the purpose of education. The major issue all nations, societies, and communities concern themselves with has been: how best can nations achieve qualitative and quantitative forms of education that will address diverse societal problems?
It should be noted that the National Policy on Education  considered good teaching and learning environment as sine-qua-non for achieving a desirable and positive outcomes. Based on this consideration, this paper is, therefore, written to address the following: a critical x-ray of the importance of teaching and learning environment in learning achievement; the implications of lack of equipment/ facilities, teachers, and good environment on sustainable learning achievement; and the role of the Nigeria Academy of Education in the advancement of education in Nigeria.
The Relationship between Education and Development
It is universally believed and accepted that education helps nations and people to grow, develop, and make meaningful and relevant contributions to political, social, cultural, and economic development. Denga, (1999) submitted that “no one can contest the fact that education is a veritable tool for national development”. In other words, for people to effectively contribute and participate in the political, economy, and socio-cultural emancipation and development of a country, education remains the greatest fulcrum.
The accumulation and advancement of a nation’s human capital, through training and retraining, largely depends on the educational operational structure. Thus, a well articulated and carefully planned educational structure will not only produce high quality human capital but also significantly address the societal problems and challenges.
Education, as simply defined by the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, is the “systematic training and instruction especially for youths in schools and colleges”. It is a systematically and sequentially designed process which leads to the acquisition of knowledge and skills that are significantly used to address societal problems.
However, education goes much more beyond mere acquisition of knowledge; it enormously involves the utilisation of knowledge acquired for personal and national development. The unemployable phenomenon, often associated with graduates from Nigeria’s tertiary institutions by some people, arose because of the observable difficulty or inability of some graduates to productively, effectively, and efficiently demonstrate the application or utilisation of knowledge acquired in the world of work. This difficulty has led to the unconvincing conclusion of some people that Nigeria’s educational system, which was hitherto very functional in the sixties and eighties, had become dysfunctional producing unsuitable and unemployable graduates as well as morally deficient youths who cannot contribute or positively influence the desired economic and social development of the country. Those who belong to this school of thought have advocated a surgery of the educational system for proper repositioning in line with the contemporary dictates of knowledge driven economy.
If the aim of education is to reform the citizens and improve the society, it can be asserted that the teacher must play a pivotal role in many contexts: as custodian of knowledge, as disseminator of knowledge, as evaluator of knowledge, and as guidance and counsellor. This, in essence, demands a rejuvenation of a functional qualitative, and an enduring teacher education policy and programme in Nigeria. The quality of an educational system can be measured through the quality of the teachers. It must be constantly remembered that a nation’s human capital remains the only basis upon which it can sustainably boost its economy, efficiently exploit its endowed natural resources, as well as rapidly advance the material, social and spiritual wellbeing of its citizens [Education Watch Vol. No. 1 2015]. If education is believed to unlock the door to modernisation, then the teacher holds the key to the door of modernisation [Ukweje B. O. 1979].
An Overview of Learning Outcomes and Achievement in Nigeria
The diagnostic assessment of learning outcomes and achievement in Nigerian schools generates and reveals information concerning pupil’s performances in different subject areas. Naturally, government investment in education ought to lead to the achievement of the stated educational and processes. The acquisition of knowledge, skills, and values by pupils is usually the yardstick for measuring learning outcomes and achievement. Internationally, as stated in the National Report (1997 and 2003) of the Nigeria Education Sector Analysis [ESA], monitoring of learning achievement, in order to ensure improved quality in basic education worldwide, was recognised in the 1990 World Conference on Education held in Jomtien, Thailand. This was followed by the establishment of a joint MLA project by UNESCO and UNICEF in 1992. The conference, with special focus on pupils’ achievement in organised programmes and completion of certificate requirements, mandated each country to adapt the outcome of the meeting to ensure that learning outcomes such as useful knowledge, reasoning ability, skills, and values are attained.
In response to this mandate, Nigeria, in 1996 and 2003, organised learning achievement tests in three core subject areas, literacy, numeracy, and life skill competencies. The result revealed that learning outcomes were not only falling but were also below expected national standards in primary schools. Specifically, the result revealed that only 30% of boys and 26% of girls could read part of a simple sentence and just over 50% could add two digits totalling less than 10. Similarly, the 2003 tests showed that urban schools performed better than rural schools; boys did better than girls, though marginally, while private schools did better than public schools. In the final analysis, the result concluded that the system, and not the child, should be blamed.
Okebukola, (1986), in a study conducted on Students Achievements in Senior School Certificate Examination[WASSCE] in West Africa, found that students recorded under-achievement in basic science subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics etc. He attributed the poor performance, in these subjects, to ineffective teaching, attitude of students and teachers, poor remuneration of teachers, lack of qualified teachers, high pupils-teacher ratio, poor student study skills, large class population, poor teaching methods, insufficient period in the time table, and teachers ‘‘lack of interest in their jobs”.
Similarly, Onunkwo , cited in Ndioho, investigated students achievement in integrated science in the Junior School Certificate Examination in Anambra State and reported poor achievement of pupils in the subject. He adduced the reasons for this to lack of integrated science teachers, lack of teaching aids, poor teaching methods, and large class population.
In the same vein, Jumbo  conducted a study on students achievement in short-hand, typewriting, book-keeping/accounting, office practice, and commerce in the Senior School Certificate Examination[SSCE] in Degema in Rivers State. The result revealed poor learning achievement of pupils in these subjects. He attributed the pupils under-achievement to factors such as: poor exposure of business education teachers, lack of equipment and other infrastructural facilities, poor remuneration of teachers, inadequate teaching periods, and the deployment of non-business education teachers to teach the subjects.
Similarly, Ahmed  evaluated nomadic education in North-Eastern States and revealed that nomadic schools were bedevilled with gross inadequacy of schools facilities and teacher supply. Out of the 313 nomadic schools evaluated, only 34 had permanent structures, 15% of the schools conducted lessons under the tree shades, and only 12% of teachers were qualified. While performance of nomadic schools, in the National Common Entrance Examination, oscillated between 30-40% that of the regular schools recorded between 60-70%. In addition, Mohammad  examined the educational achievement of primary five pupils in grammar and reading in Fulfude and English languages in Adamawa and Taraba states. The results of the study showed low level achievement of the pupils in both reading and comprehension. The study identified dearth of instructional materials, unfavourable classroom environment, and teachers’ low level knowledge of how to effectively teach reading and grammar as the potent factors responsible for the low level performance of the pupils.
In like manner, Asita  undertook a comparative study of the learning achievements of pupils in nomadic and conventional schools in Kaduna and Rivers States in literacy, numeracy, and life-skills competencies. The results revealed that conventional schools performed better than nomadic schools. He attributed the performance to factors such as: availability, or absence of, teaching and learning facilities and equipment, qualified teachers, and the utilisation of good instructional materials and infrastructure, among others. The result of this study corroborated an earlier submission of NCNE  which revealed that over 50% of teachers in nomadic schools are not qualified.
From the presentation and analysis of the above studies, it can be concluded that the following factors: lack of infrastructure, lack of adequately qualified teachers, lack of teaching and learning materials, poor remuneration, inadequate teaching time, large class size, poor students study skills, deployment of unqualified and in-competent teachers to teach subjects, and poor classroom environment, among others are responsible for the poor learning achievement of pupils in schools.
Teachers Quality and Quantity in Learning Achievement
From a reasonable deduction, it can be asserted that the quality and quantity of teachers positively or negatively affect learning achievement of pupils in both conventional public or private schools and non-conventional pastoralists or fishermen schools. The sustainability of any traditional and non-traditional educational system is largely dependent on the quality and quantity of teachers. Lassa  posited that the teacher is the initiator of the learning process, facilitator of the learning skills, coordinator of the learning sequence assessor of learning efficiency, and the pivotal element in the entire educational development. This view was captured in the National Policy on Education  and shared by Onunkwo , Jumbo , Gbamanja , Ibrahim , Ivowi and Gbamanja , and Muhammad . Similarly, Kabiru et al  stated that the quality and calibre of teachers are associated with pupils academic performances and thus serve as a valid index for determining a country’s development progress. Writing on the qualities of a good teacher, Gabamanja  stated that “a none teacher cheats, a poor teacher tells, an average teacher informs, a good teacher teaches, and an excellent teacher inspires”.
Asita  opined that an educational system placed in the hand of mediocre will spell doom. He further submitted that “a situation where unqualified teachers, headmasters, principals are employed in the school system will lead to pupils not actually taught which will invariable affect their performances in both internal and external examinations”. He concluded that the place of qualified teachers, as an essential ingredient in the educational system, cannot be under-estimated.
The issue of teachers’ quality has remained a central theme in the submissions of most educational scholars and practitioners. For example, Okebukola  reiterated that ineffective teaching and lack of qualified teachers are responsible for poor performances of students in basic science subjects in WASSCE. Nwangu , quoted in Akinsowon , identified qualified teachers as one factor that brings about disparities in the academic performances of students in Federal and State government colleges.
Similarly, many teachers, due to inadequate and insufficient number of teachers, are deployed to teach subjects in which they do not ordinarily have expertise, competence, or training. Wagbara  stated that conceptual difficulties of teachers in the explanation of certain principles are due to lack of knowledge and skills. Amoke  revealed that dearth of qualified teachers has led some teachers to teach subjects which are not directly related to the courses they studied in the universities. Ukwuje  noted that in most schools, especially the private ones, teachers are made to teach subjects outside their competent area or specialization. A biology teacher, he added, may be required to teach mathematics. Therefore, teachers must be assigned to teach subjects where they have the competence, expertise, training, and comparative knowledge advantage if they are to remain a veritable, an essential ingredient in the educational system, and a valuable asset to national development of a nation. Therefore, government expenditure in the training and retraining of teachers must be seen as a worthy expenditure and should be enormously sustained not only in the traditional conventional schools but also in nomadic schools.
There is also the urgent need for government intervention towards an improvement in the one, two, or three teacher school syndrome associated with nomadic schools. For example, the Monitoring Reports on Nomadic Schools (2005), (2008), (2013), and (2014) revealed that in some of the nomadic schools, there exist only one, two, or three teachers teaching from primary one to primary six. This is an unfortunate situation. One can imagine what percentage of the curriculum can be covered in such circumstance. The immediate employment of more qualified and competent teachers as well as the constant and continuous training of the existing teachers in nomadic schools become imperative.
Teaching-Learning Materials and Learning Achievement
As previously stated in this paper, the differences in performances of pupils in certain subjects, identified earlier, are related to factors such as: availability, or absence, of teaching equipment and learning facilities, qualified teachers, conducive learning environment, and the effective utilisation of good instructional materials like charts, pictures, film projectors, among others (Wales 1967, Castle 1969, Majasa 1969, Nwafor 1985, Somper 1976, Nwana 1987, and Dike 1985, as cited in Asita 2008].
In his opinion, Ukweje  regretted that the short supply of teaching and learning equipment and materials as well as inadequate classrooms (within two decades of the implementation of 6-3-3-4 educational policy) and, by extension, the Universal Basic Education Scheme have resulted in the characterisation of education- for-all as education-for-none.
Instructional materials are perceived as ready help to teachers in the classroom interaction process (Wales 1967); as teaching aids that give meaning to words and concepts by bringing out the real meaning (Castle 1969). Hence, instructional materials enhance the understanding of concepts. Majasa  stated that teaching aids facilitate the work of the teacher, enhance effective understanding by the pupils, as well as arouse pupils’ interest in the subjects taught. Somper  contended that pupils and schools could perform optimally only when there are adequate facilities. The effective utilisation of good facilities and instructional materials promotes high academic achievement. Similarly, Enahowo and Efrerkaya  cited in Asita , perceived school equipment and facilities as the “life blood of the school system”. The school system, according to them, is doomed to fail in the absence of these facilities. The effectiveness of the teachers in the classroom and the effective comprehension of the subject-matter by pupils are dependents on the availability and utilisation of instructional and textual materials. In the same vein, Ike  and Adesina  submitted that Nigeria Schools needed more facilities and equipment such as: libraries, laboratories, teaching aids, among others in order to achieve the set goals and objectives.
The near absence of textual materials and other teaching aids in some nomadic schools, as revealed in the Monitoring Reports earlier cited, is quite pathetic. There is, therefore, the urgent need for all arms of government, especially the federal government, to curtail this trend by allocating a reasonable and commensurable budgetary provision to the National Commission for Nomadic Education for the acquisition and distribution of these materials in order promote effective learning achievement of pupils in nomadic schools.
Learning Environment and Learning Achievement
Njoku  cited in Onyemerekeya , conceptualised environmental factors as “all changes in the learner’s surroundings which stimulate and influence his reaction and growth”. He noted that environmental stimuli consist of changes in physical conditions, objects and communication, as well as in the nature of the relationship with peers, teachers, and other persons who are active in the community’s institutions. Teaching and learning environment can be seen as a total stimulation from different environmental sources that an individual encounters from conception till death.
Onyemerekeya  identified two types of environment. They are: pre-natal and post-natal environment. Pre-natal environment, according to him, refers to all physical and social conditions that surround the foetus all through the stages of pre-natal development in the womb. Therefore, genetic endowment may stimulate or lead to abnormalities that can affect a child’s ability to learn in future. Finally, he asserted that a healthy pre-natal environment will lead to proper development of the child, thus laying a solid foundation for effective learning in the future.
The second type of environment is the post-natal environment. According to him, the post-natal environment includes the home, the community, and the school environment. Exposure to different social and physical environment leads to different learning experiences among the pupils in the classroom. He averred that the physical factors in the classroom such as the teacher, accommodation, space, furniture, ventilation, lightening, textbooks, peers, and the nature of interaction all affect learning.
Furthermore, Onyemereke  stated that classroom accommodation that is large with adequate furniture properly arranged to allow for free movement as well as a well ventilated and lighted classroom promote efficient learning and management. In his contribution, Wagbara  found that materially and culturally privileged children, whose parents have high status occupation, education, high income, better home amenities, and more material possessions perform academically better than children who lack such privileges. Similarly, Ndioho  asserted that children from culturally deprived homes are less able to verbalize and sort objects into homogeneous categories. This difficulty has contributed to their poor performance in school subjects.
Moreover, Omwirhiren  observed that children from educated and rich families perform academically better than children from less educated or uneducated and poor families. This is because such children are usually provided with the required textbooks, conducive atmosphere for reading at home, and the luxury of hiring home teachers to complement the efforts of school teacher. All these, he said, contribute positively to the academic success of the child. Odebumi  equally asserted that there is a significant relationship between the academic performance of students whose parents have high educational/awareness level of good schools than students whose parents have low awareness level. In like manner, he submitted that students whose parents have the ability to supervise their homework tend to perform academically better than students whose parents lack such ability. Supporting this assertion, Ike  stated that lack of laboratories and libraries has contributed to poor academic performances of students in Nigerian schools. Similarly, Bishop  found that urban and semi-urban schools have virtually all the facilities and amenities required for adequate teaching and learning apart from adequately qualified teachers. This helps to enhance better learning achievement. Akabue, however, identified parental neglect of their responsibilities to their wards as a major factor affecting performance of children. Failure of the parents to provide children with basic requirements such as textbooks, uniform, pocket money, among others, often leads to absenteeism, truancy, pilfering, and abandonment of studies. The resultant effect of this is usually poor performance. Sharing this view, Ezewu and Tahir  equally identified the involvement of children in economic and domestic activities as another contributory factor of students’ poor academic achievement.
In an investigation into the factors associated with late coming among primary school pupils, Ezewu  found that parental involvement of children in economic and domestic activities was the major reason responsible for the late coming of primary school pupils to school. Some parents also engage their children in domestic work like cooking, fetching of water and firewood, working on the farm, hawking of banana, groundnuts, fish, among other, (Ikekwem 1985). This engagement often affects the punctuality of pupils at school and their inability to read after school hours. This eventually affects their academic achievement of such pupils at school.
Summarising the views presented above, Tukur  concluded that availability and adequacy of classroom structures, school furniture, classroom sizes, laboratories and library, play ground or field, teaching-learning materials, and teacher resources positively affect teaching and learning and invariably improve learning achievements.
Nigerian Academy of Education and Sustainable Educational development in Nigeria
The Academy has eight key aims and objectives enshrined in its constitution as follows:
1. Serve as a forum for Nigerian educationists at the highest level, whose opinion on education commands professional authority and respect;
2. Improve the quality of education throughout the country by taking the initiative to express views on plans, programmes, policy and practice in education;
3. Promote the ethics of the teaching profession;
4. Advise on the minimum entry qualification into the teaching profession;
5. Promote excellence in education;
6. Commission studies on educational issues as they affect Nigeria;
7. Publish an educational journal;
8. Perform other activities that promote the professional standing of the Academy.
From these aims and objectives, it can be seen that the Nigerian Academy of Education was inaugurated to play laudable and recognisable role in educational policy formulation, policy guidance, and implementation. It has been widely acknowledged that the academy has had a greater impact on the growth and development of the education sector in Nigeria. In view of this, there is the need for the academy to fast track and accelerate its relevance in this sector. In this sense, the academy is urged to play an influential role in the appointment of ministers of Education, Head of ministries and parastatals of Education, and or state Commissioners of Education. Similarly, the academy must develop competence and expertise modalities for assisting Ministers of Education, the various Heads of Parastatals of Education, and State Commissioners of Education to record laudable achievements in terms of policy formulation advocacy, and implementation. In like manner, the academy must be seen to be alive and active in terms of the development of an acceptable and enduring curriculum, the review of the existing curriculum to reflect the contemporary realities of human existence and societal challenges, and lastly, the academy must become a relevant source of consultation by government on budgetary allocations and provisions to the education sector in Nigeria.
Recommendations on how to improve Learning Achievement in schools
Since Teaching Aids facilitate the work of the teacher, enhance effective understanding of pupils, and arouse their interest in the subjects taught, it is recommended that facilities such as libraries, laboratories, teaching and learning textual materials should be provided by all arms of government through a special and dedicated budgetary allocation if the overall goals and objectives of the educational system are to be attained.
Similarly, as stated earlier, the place of qualified teachers as a veritable or essential ingredient in the educational system cannot be underestimated. Government should, therefore, develop a policy framework, backed with budgetary provision for the continuous training and retraining of teachers in order to enhance their teaching and facilitating capacities.
Furthermore, classroom accommodation has been perceived as highly relevant for improving learning achievements. Therefore, it is recommended that school administrators should be mandated to adhere strictly to Minimum Standard for school management as provided under the Quality Assurance regulations.
In conclusion, it is recommended that a forum should be organised by parent-teacher associations where parents will be advised to limit the involvement of children in domestic activities and ensure that they are given enough opportunity to effectively participate in the teaching and learning process.
The issue of reactivation of what used to be the Inspectorate Department, now called Quality Assurance Department. Today teachers are on there own, no monitoring, no supervision. The School Based Management Committee (SBMC) that is being put in place to ensure effective monitoring, teaching and learning, is still at the take off stage. We must try and use retired head teachers to help with little allowance to do the job of inspectors if we are serious about quality.
And for the Academy:
Permit me to suggest that the academy should pay more attention to the following if it is to be accorded a distinguishing respect and recognition, especially by all stakeholders in the education sector in Nigeria. They are:
1. That the teacher, as a major factor in the teaching and learning process, must not only be adequate in quantity but also in quality.
2. Adequate remuneration, along with other incentives, should be considered for teachers
3. A comprehensive capacity re-orientation programme should be instituted for serving teachers. Similarly, there should be a review of pre-service training contents for teachers.
4. There is the need for the resuscitation of the Inspectorate or Quality Assurance Parastatal for effective monitoring of the schools as was diligently done the 60s to 80s,
5. There is the need for a justifiable investment on the purchase of vehicles that will be used to monitor the activities of teachers and pupils in schools.
6. There is also the urgent need for state governments to access the huge funds locked up in banks through UBEC for the purpose of providing adequate infrastructure in schools.
7. The need for a comprehensive data on status of population in both public and private school is highly desirable.
8. There is the need for State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEB) to provide the desired and necessary assistance to Nomadic schools in term of staffing, infrastructure, and welfare. Furthermore, there is the need for the NOMADIC Commission to be empowered with full responsibility.
9. There is the need for the complete removal of dichotomy between Polytechnics and University graduates. The academy is urged to work out the modalities for this removal.
10. How do we evolve a robust research programme, improved infrastructure as we record increase in student population and mass capacity building for both academic and non academic staff in our various tertiary institutions.
In conclusion, I have the strong conviction that if these suggestions and recommendations are given due consideration in this conference, a new ROAD MAP for effective and management of Nigerian educational system will eventually emerge in preparation for the United Nations 2015-2030 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS.
Thank you all.
Prof. Aderinoye, Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE), presented this paper at the Nigerian Academy of Education’s (NAE) Annual General Conference, held between Nov 1 and 5, 2015 at the National Teachers Institute (NIT), Kaduna.