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Formal Education: A Catalyst to Nation Building

A Case Study of Nigeria


Anthony Ikechukwu Chimaka

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.
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Chapter Three: A Brief Historical Survey of the Development of Education in Nigeria

← 54 | 55 → Chapter Three


Education itself is as old as man himself. The early history of formal education in Nigeria lies heavily on the influences of two prominent religions – Christianity and Islam- on Nigerian way of life. Education formed an integral part of their missionary methods. However, it is important to point out that there was not at time an educational vacuum in Nigeria. There were already forms of education among Nigerians before the arrival of these religions and subsequently the western nations. These forms of education could be seen as Indigenous educational system. Makulu described this system as “the education for life which was part of the community life of the tribe in which the young generation was prepared for its role in the society through organized patterns and systematic instruction.”159 That means that this type of education was based on the tribal and traditional life of the people and was part of the social order of these communities. Therefore, practical education of a considerable developed pattern was already an essential part of social organization in Nigeria. The idea of education in relation to nation building, therefore, is not new among Nigerians; what is new perhaps is the form this education has taken which has differed in each phase of the Nigerian history. In this chapter we shall discuss these forms under the three major systems of educational development in Nigeria.

This system of education refers to the type of education offered in the pre-literate era, within the community, by...

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