Education occupies position of prime importance in all developmental efforts
of any nation. This is so because education is key to human development as
human beings are required to engineer and sustain development and
progress in all spheres of life. It is from this perspective that the
international community came together in the year 1990 to deliberate on
how the benefits of education can be brought to every citizen in every
society. This initiative was termed ‘Education for All’ and its specific aims are
to: expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education,
especially for the vulnerable and disadvantaged children; ensure that by
2015 all children particularly girls, those in difficult circumstances, and those
belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and
compulsory primary education; ensure that the learning needs of all young
people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning
and life skill programs; achieve a fifty percent improvement in adult
literacy, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing
education for all adults; eliminate gender disparities in primary and
secondary education by the year 2005, and achieve gender equality in
education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to
and achievement in basic education of good quality; and to improve all
aspects of the quality of education and ensure the excellence of all so that
recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially
in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills. (World Bank Group 2014).

Nigerian education is faced with myriads of problems ranging from decaying
facilities, poor learning environment, poorly motivated teachers, problem of
access, examination malpractice, graduate unemployment and host of other
It is not surprising that a country as large and as complex like Nigeria faces
such challenges when one considers the level of planning and resources
needed to sustain such a complex system. Exponential growth in population,
no doubt, is putting pressure on education facilities, but must this
necessarily be allowed to impact on the quality? It is estimated that
enrollment at primary school level alone in Nigeria was over 16 million as at
2005 (Dike 2005:3). This figure was almost half the combined population of
Ghana, Togo and Benin.
The basic goal or agenda of SDG 4 is “Quality Education for All”. What then
is quality? Or Quality Education? Quality can be conceived of as fitness for a
purpose. It is one thing for a thing to have some peculiar characteristics; it
is another thing for it to be fit for a particular purpose. Quality can be
conceived as per excellence, standard and fitness for purpose.

Education is a transaction which goes on between generations of human
beings in which the newcomers to the scene are initiated into the world they
are to inhabit so as to expose them to the character of the world and the
methods, procedures, and devices which are believed to be appropriate to
human engagements (Oakeshott 1972:19). It follows that for education to
be of good quality it has to inculcate in its recipients’ intrinsic values that will
enable learners to survive in their culture and partake constructively in the
development of their society. While the intrinsic quality of education
recognized the role of the mind in acquiring knowledge, the extrinsic quality
will focus on utilitarian, practical and vocational aspect of education. Quality
education should, therefore, have a good balance of both intrinsic and
extrinsic qualities because the two are essential for producing a truly
educated man.

In the same vein, knowledge just for knowledge sake without taking
cognizance of man’s practical problems would be inadequate in our
contemporary world. Therefore, quality education should stress value and
not just information. It should aim at developing the mind and not just the
head and hands.
The question of quality usually arises when there is a mismatch between the
competence of the product of an educational process and the certificate he
or she possesses. For instance, according to the Nigerian National Policy on
Education, the number one goal of the primary education is: inculcation of
permanent literacy and numeracy, and ability to communicate effectively
(NPE. 2004:3). In a situation where a large number of those who have
passed through primary schools and are so certified are found wanting in
literacy, numeracy and effective communication, one can say that the
quality of such primary educational process is questionable.
This is because the best way to assess the quality of any educational process
is to assess its products against the set standards.

In view of the current wave of globalization across the world, another
indicator of quality in terms of efficiency is the ability of the products of
education to compete globally and for institutions of learning within the
country to be highly ranked in the international community. According to
2015 University Web Ranking, only one Nigerian university is among the
best ten in Africa. The best university in Nigeria according to the survey,
University of Ibadan, was ranked eighth in Africa while six South African
Universities are among the best ten. Many would contend that there has
been serious decline in quality of Nigerian education because of facts and
figures of this kind and because of failure of Nigerian graduates to compete
globally especially in science and technology. This can hardly be attributed
to any inherent intellectual weakness on the part of Nigerian students but to

lack of exposure to state of the earth facilities, lack of motivated teachers,
incessant closures and the like. Many students that have been adjudged
average or below average here in Nigeria, have performed excellently
outside the country when they found themselves in more conducive learning
Quality education is that which is of relevance to the needs and aspirations
of the learners as well as the society. This needs are usually not static but
dynamic, hence, educational goals and objectives have to shift when need
be. In the early days of formal western education in Nigeria, emphasis was
on grammar, handwriting and literary studies simply because there was
acute need for clerk and catechist that require such skills. In the like
manner, education of today has to focus on contemporary needs and
challenges as education ought to prepare its recipients for the present and
the future and not for past. It would not profit us to continue measure or
asses the current educational system against the past. We have to be more
concerned with the extent to which our educational system can meet
peoples’ contemporary needs and aspirations. For example, the world is now
moving in the direction of Information Communication Technology (I.C.T).
How compliant are Nigerian schools, colleges and universities to this trend?
Are our schools adequately equipped and to what extent is our present
curriculum in terms of content and delivery adapted to these innovations?
Our current reality as a nation is far from what is on paper in the educational
policy or what is attainable in terms of sustainable developmental growth of

Abdullahi Idris Turaki
Program Manager
School Connect Africa