Formal Education: A Catalyst to Nation Building

A Case Study of Nigeria

by Anthony Ikechukwu Chimaka (Author)
©2014 Thesis XII, 244 Pages
Series: African Theological Studies, Volume 6


The smallest and most remote villages in the developing countries are affected by the rapid and seemingly irresistible trend towards globalization. The limitless availability of information however necessitates education to stand out as the key factor for human and national development. But which conditions must be met by societies for education systems to perform this function effectively? Which benefits in turn must education systems provide to ensure social cohesion? These general considerations are exemplified by an analysis of the social situation of Nigeria, where one third of the whole population did not receive an education and thus cannot participate in the opportunities of modern social structures. As an advocate of the social values of freedom, dignity and charity the church stated clearly that education belongs to the inalienable human rights. The study argues that only a holistic development of each and every citizen of Nigeria will lead to the development of Nigeria as a nation. It portrays the areas where lack of formal education has slowed down the implementation and acceptance of modern techniques and as a result has hampered development. It critically analyses the Nigerian educational system and concludes by suggesting strategies towards national development.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Vorwort
  • Acknowledgement
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Content
  • General Introduction
  • Chapter One: Explication of Terms and Concepts
  • Introduction
  • 1.1. Education
  • 1.2. Formal education
  • 1.3. Informal education
  • 1.4. ‘Formal’ and ‘Informal’ Terms (Concepts) in Education
  • 1.5. Nation-building
  • Resume
  • Chapter Two: The Teachings of the Church on Education and Human development
  • Introduction
  • 2.1. The Development of the Peoples (Populorum Progressio)
  • 2.2. Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth (Caritas in Veritate – Charity in Truth)
  • 2.3. Declaration on Christian Education (Gravissimum Educationis)
  • 2.4. The Code of Canon Law on Education
  • 2.4.1. Right and obligation to educate
  • 2.4.2. School as important means of education
  • 2.4.3. Establishment of Schools
  • 2.5. Conferences of (African) Bishops on Education
  • 2.5.1. Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria
  • Resume
  • Chapter Three: A Brief Historical Survey of the Development of Education in Nigeria
  • Introduction
  • 3.1. Indigenous school system
  • 3.2. Qur’anic School System
  • 3.3. Western or Formal School System
  • 3.4. Observations on the Historical Development of Education in Nigeria
  • Resume
  • Chapter Four: Aims of Educational Acquisition
  • Introduction
  • 4.1. Education for individual (self) development (identity)
  • 4.2. Education for social development (identity)
  • 4.3. Education and Nationalism
  • Resume
  • Chapter Five: Formal Education and some factors of Nation Building in Nigeria
  • Introduction
  • 5.1. Education and Politics
  • 5.1.1. Democracy and Participation in Politics
  • 5.1.2. ‘Lingua Franca’ in Nigerian Political system
  • 5.2. Education and Economics
  • 5.2.1. Education as Productive Investment
  • 5.2.2. Education as Instrument of Economic Progress and Social Change
  • 5.3. Education and Culture
  • 5.3.1. Education and Culture transmission
  • The role of the family
  • The role of the school
  • The impact of Language
  • 5.3.2. The Effect of Culture transmission through Western Education
  • 5.4. Education and Poverty
  • 5.4.1. Population control
  • 5.4.2. Income stability (sustainable income)
  • Resume
  • Chapter Six: Targets (strategies) towards National Development
  • Introduction
  • 6.1. Educated manpower
  • 6.2. Manpower Development through Special Education (Handicapped)
  • 6.3. Agriculture and rural development
  • 6.4. Health
  • 6.5. Population
  • 6.6. Tribalism
  • Resume
  • Chapter Seven: Some Issues of Concern in Nigerian Educational System
  • Introduction
  • 7.1. The issue of Admission
  • 7.2. The Quality of Education
  • 7.3. Female Admission
  • 7.4. Educational Opportunities
  • 7.5. Examination malpractice
  • 7.5.1. Causes of Examination malpractice
  • 7.5.2. Measures to curb Examination malpractices
  • 7.6. Cultism and Social Unrest in Nigerian institutions of Learning
  • 7.6.1. Culture of violence in Nigerian society
  • 7.6.2. Measures against cultism
  • 7.6.3. Suggestions on how to combat cultism and social unrest
  • 7.7. Education for Character and Moral training
  • Resume
  • General Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Abbreviations

← xii | 1 → General Introduction

The rapid and seemingly irresistible trend towards globalization today affects even the smallest and most remote villages in the developing world. This fast changing world has given rise to the need for societies to work and struggle for direction and balance. The quest for direction and balance shapes a nation. The stability of a nation prepares the stage for an even development. Only those nations that are developed or are advanced in the process of development can participate actively in this drive to post-modernity. Realizing the need to build up their societies to match with the signs of the time, most of the developing countries have made “national development” the focal point of their aspirations in recent times. In a bid to achieve their aims, some of these countries have initiated numerous plans, strategies and programmes. They believe that man’s knowledge, his mastery and control of forces of nature in his environment are of paramount importance in building a nation. Therefore, most of these developing countries, which Nigeria is one of them, have come to accept the fact that in all cases, education is central to stands at the centre as the catalyst for the entire process of national development. The reason is because “development” which is a man –made multi-dimensional process involves man in his political, economic, social-cultural, psychological and philosophical, orientations geared towards the achievement of qualitative material and spiritual well-being.1

The issue of development and peace in the world has been of great concern to the church. Through her social teachings the church outlines the contents of development and the areas where development is mostly needed in view of the changing global prevailing circumstances. Pope Paul VI in his encyclical, Populorum Progressio stressed that “True development must be comprehensive; it must bear in mind each man and the whole man.”2 True development must “look out for a new humanism,”3 which wins recognition for the development of man and of the whole humankind in economic, political, social and cultural regard. He maintained that ← 1 | 2 → human dignity should be respected in the process of development since man is the centre and aim, subject and carrier of all development.4 The extent that man can go in carrying out this task of development depends on his level and standard of education. That is why Pope Paul VI gave priority of place to education in human development when he said:

We can even say that economic growth is dependent on social progress, the goal to which it aspires; and that basic education is the first objective for any nation seeking to develop itself. Lack of education is as serious as lack of food; the illiterate is a starved spirit. When someone learns how to read and write, he is equipped to do a job and to shoulder a profession, to develop self-confidence and realize that he can progress along with others.5

Literacy becomes, therefore, the first and most basic tool for personal enrichment and social integration. It is the society’s most valuable tool for furthering development and economic progress.6 It enables man to act for himself. By this means, people are enabled to cultivate in themselves an awareness of the common good and its demands upon all.7 In other words, education is one of the most vital and fundamental elements to be considered in the process of national development. In its formal form especially, education plays a major role as a social force in development, helping to induce change, and enable people and society to adapt to change, and as a political force, contributing to the strengthening of national role in training the technicians, administrators and others skills needed for development. It also helps in creating a common outlook and set of beliefs needed to adapt to the present day society, to strengthen the focus on citizenship and common nationality. To these advantages of formal education Pope Paul VI added:

By developing these traits through formal education of personal effort, the individual works his way toward the goal set for him by the Creator. Utilizing only his talent and willpower, each man can grow in humanity, enhance his personal worth, and perfect himself.8

Comprehensive development therefore, embraces income improvement, meaningful access to education, health etc and the ability for an active social participation. The content of this education should not be based on materialistic and ← 2 | 3 → atheistic philosophy but rather should show respect for a religious outlook on life, for freedom or human dignity.9 Therefore, comprehensive, integral development should be understood in the light of right ethical values. According to Pope Benedict XVI, such values as charity and truth, give development a substance, (make it meaningful). Therefore, to adhere to such Christian values is part of society building and integral human development.10 Anuna tactically put it this way:

Sound education is not only a sine qua non for effective human resource and national sustainable development but also for fostering meaningful democracy. Therefore, a well conceived, structured, articulated and properly operated educational system will invariably lead to a strong and bright future for the nation.11

Nigeria as a nation boasts of many scholars of international repute. However a good percentage of the population is either not formally educated or is poorly educated. Statistically, about 61 percent of Nigerian population has embraced education while 39 percent have not.12 Out of the 61 percent that have embraced education, a good percentage is poorly educated. The risk of many young people dropping out of school, at one level or the other, is still high. In a world almost saturated by the slogan of human rights, millions of Nigerians are not aware of their rights because they are illiterate. They have been overcome by what Plato terms the “culture of silence.”13 There are great and embarrassing differences in economic levels of life of the people. Many Nigerians live in poverty while some live in wealth and affluence. There is unemployment, which gives way to this economic imbalance. While some of those who are fortunate enough to be employed refuse to perform, preferring doing things in their own way, thereby forgetting their pleadings and promises of dedication to duty in their letters of application, the performance of others is restricted because of the level of their education. Incompetence and insincerity have institutionalised bribery and corruption as a Nigerian factor. Nigerians do not even trust and rely on each other any longer. Illegal business dealings have become the order of the day. Some rich ← 3 | 4 → Nigerians display wealth unnecessarily in public thereby raising the eagerness of the young ones to become rich fast and be like them. And the gap between the rich and the poor in our society is becoming wider. Students who are still learning and are being prepared to be leaders of tomorrow no longer want to be patient till that tomorrow before arrogating leadership roles to themselves. Examination malpractice and secret cult activities are becoming a way of life in our higher institutions. As a result, the dream of stability of the nation is far from being achieved. Most modern economic policies, health policies, legal systems, social services, trade and commerce, transportation, communication etc cannot function effectively. Modern techniques needed for development in industries and other sectors of the economy are most often not available and when available could not be adequately put to use. It is a known truth that factors contributing to unemployment are traced mainly to qualification, employment opportunities and mind set. Competition raises the level of requirement necessary for an ordinary job. Those without a higher educational qualification will lose out. These situations are crises situations that require urgent attention for nation-building or for the development of Nigeria especially in the era of scientific and technological development.14 And it is the responsibility of formal education – the Nigerian educational institutions – to encourage a critical examination of the Nigerian social, religious, cultural and traditional heritage and find the elements that can be useful in handling these crises. For immediate and continuous positive results in creating awareness and in sustaining the national political framework among citizens, especially among the young people, formal education is indispensable. Education entails competence. Education leaves a lasting impression on every human being. Education in Nigeria should be an instrument “par excellence” for effecting national development.15 In consonance with the Social Teachings of the Church, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria have maintained that education is part of the holistic development of the human person. Nation building and national development therefore should start with providing quality education to Nigerian citizens. In a recent Communiqué on education, they said:

Quality education produces citizens who will work for the establishment and maintenance of a just socio-economic and political order. It is the antidote for the recurring and related problems of poverty, corruption, insecurity and incompetence in our ← 4 | 5 → land. Indeed, the task of building a better Nigeria begins with the provision of quality education.16

In his opinion Mason as quoted in Anuna remarked that “Education today, more than ever before, must see clearly the dual objectives: education for living and education for making a living.”17 Therefore, education in Nigerian should deal with revitalizing, refocusing and redirecting of the present situations to respond to individual, community and national survival and development needs.18 These are parts of the activities that are involved in the process of nation building and national development.

This work discusses the role of education in nation building in Nigeria. It attempts to explain how the development of the society depends on individual self-development. Privileging the resources of the Church’s Social Teaching, it argues as well that a holistic development of each and every member of the society leads to the development of that society. The scope of this work is limited to Nigeria. It aims at investigating the areas where lack of formal education has slowed down the implementation and acceptance of modern techniques and ways of life, and as a result has hampered development.

The method of this research is expository and analytic. The expository method exposes the role formal education has played so far in the development of Nigeria as a nation and the analytic method undertakes the critical analysis of the contribution of formal education in view of making recommendations.

For our source, we tried to consult as far as possible, all books written on this topic or related issues till the present moment. We also made use of daily Newspapers, interviews and articles from notable Journals.

Structurally, this work is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter deals with the definition and explanation of some of the terms and concepts that are important in understanding the work. Like the term ‘education’ itself, its aspects, forms, and its importance in the drive to modernity and how it is viewed by scholars of different epochs. The terms ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ as they are currently used interchangeably in educational fields today is also discussed. Also discussed ← 5 | 6 → in this chapter is the term ‘nation-building’ with its various understandings and importance in the search for nationhood.

The second chapter deals with education and the social teaching of the church. It treats the Church’s great concern for human dignity and development in the world and the role education plays in maintaining respect for human dignity and bringing about meaningful development in the world. Some themes on development and education as contained in some papal encyclicals like “The Development of the Peoples” (Populorum Progressio) of Pope Paul VI, “Integral human development in charity and truth” (Caritas in Veritate: Charity in Truth) of Pope Benedict XVI, “Declaration on Christian Education” (Gravissimum Educationis) as contained in the Second Vatican II documents are discussed. Human development has to be comprehensive and this integral development has to be understood in the right ethical values. Education promotes ethical values in the society and as such is important for man’s self-fulfilment and development. Therefore, all men should have an inalienable right to education. This right to an education arises from the duty of man to strive for responsible maturity, the common good, and the love of God. This chapter also treats the Code of Canon Law as the principal legislative document of the Church which translates the teachings and doctrines of the Church into canonical language. It discusses briefly the right to Christian education and the involvement of the parents, the state (civil society) and the church in education. The chapter ends with the teachings and positions of the local church on education. That is, in fulfilment of the church’s divine mission, the chapter treats how the Bishops through their regional and national conferences applied the church’s social teachings in situations particular to their various local regions and countries.

The third chapter presents a short historical survey of the development of education in Nigeria. It traces the different stages of educational development in Nigeria, pointing out the positive and negative effects each stage (Traditional, Quoranic, Western system of education) had on Nigerians in other to appreciate the contributions formal education could make in the general development of Nigeria as a nation.

Chapter Four describes the various aims of giving and acquiring education among the missionaries, the colonial masters and Nigerians themselves. While the missionaries were more interested in spreading the gospel, the colonial masters were interested in their “civilisation.” This chapter emphasises the need for education to be directed towards the development of individuals and the society in general. It discusses education as not only an important tool for individual (self) development and the development of society in general but also as an agent for nurturing the feelings of national consciousness and achievement of national unity.

← 6 | 7 → The fifth chapter discusses formal education and some factors of nation building in Nigeria. In dealing with some factors that are considered here as necessary in the process of nation building and national development, the possession of a certain level of formal education was seen as being imperative in other to achieve a meaningful success. Drawing from the western classical philosophy that “Whoever controls the education system also controls the destiny of the nation”19 and “he who controls the education of the young controls the future of the nation,”20 the chapter points out that certain levels of formal education are required on the part of all citizens for the realization of Nigeria’s dream of being counted among the developed countries in the world.

The sixth chapter deals on the Targets (strategies) towards national development. Such factors as educated manpower, manpower development through special education, agriculture and rural development, health, population, tribalism etc, are considered to be some of the areas to be targeted in the act of nation building. The chapter maintains that skills and management manpower development is a force to reckon with in the process of nation building and national development, and education has much to offer in this area. The less-privileged or rather the handicapped should also be included in this manpower development. Because the majority of Nigerian population is rural and has agriculture as their mainstay, this chapter considers agriculture and rural development as an important target. Health is also considered because with good health, the citizens can achieve much in the process of nation building. Population on the other hand is considered a target because if it is not checked, overpopulation can bring about disorder and difficulties in managing affairs. Tribalism as a peculiar case in Nigerian situation due to the conglomeration of people with different cultures and world views is also considered a target. This chapter therefore discusses these factors, emphasizing their importance and the contribution of formal education towards their adequate use in the process of nation building and national development.

The seventh chapter deals with some issue of concern in the Nigerian educational system. The indispensability of education in national development has raised the quest to be educated in the present day Nigerian society. Going to school grants one the opportunity of improving his social and economic stand. Formal education therefore has become the parameter for achieving a relatively ← 7 | 8 → high degree of social, economic and indeed political importance in Nigeria. As a consequence the number of school enrolment increased at all levels of Nigerian educational system. However the increase in school enrolment does not match with the socio-economic development as expected. A lot of factors have been attributed to this imbalance. Such factors like irregularities in the admission of students into institutions of learning, under-representation, low quality of education offered at educational institutions, lack and also unequal educational opportunities, examination malpractice, cultism and social unrest in Nigerian institutions of learning, politicizing educational policies among others are seen in this chapter as contributing to the poor organisation of education which in turn reduces the standard of education and impedes development in the country. Also neglect of religion and moral training in our educational system is seen as a matter of concern. Relativistic tendencies in the Nigerian society of today have resulted to the lost of moral virtues among the citizens. Lack of proper religious upbringing has resulted in the abuse of religion, using religion to promote violence and unrest situations. Education and religion should be brought together so that faith and reason could meet to avoid crises situations. Education without morality is seen as an aberration to development. These factors and many others are seen in this chapter as issues of great concern in Nigerian educational system that needs urgent attention.

The last section of this work, the general conclusion, deals with an overview of the whole work. It analysis the points discussed in various chapters of this work and concluded with suggestions on the way to move forward. Its view that formal education holds the key to national development is clearly explained.

This work does not lay claim to an exhaustive treatment of the topic. Nor does it claim that formal education is the only solution to Nigerian problems. However, it is hoped that the work will elicit and provoke, among future research students, the curiosity and a new horizon on Nigerian’s quest for national development which demands a profound study and research.


1 Cf. Kosemani, J.M., and Anuna, M.C. (ed.), Politics of Education, The Nigerian Perspective, Ernesco Publications (second edition), Enugu, 2008, p. 227.

2 Cf. Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, no. 14.

3 Ibid., no. 20.

4 Cf. Müller, J., and Wallacher, J., Forty Years Populorum Progressio, A Milestone on the Way to World-wise Social Teachings in Stimmen der Zeit, 3/2007, p. 169.


XII, 244
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (August)
Staatenbildung Erziehungskonzept Bildungssystem Entwicklungsländer
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. XII, 244 pp.

Biographical notes

Anthony Ikechukwu Chimaka (Author)

Anthony Chimaka is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe (Nigeria). His academic background is in Philosophy and Theology, and his research focuses on Social Ethics.


Title: Formal Education: A Catalyst to Nation Building