When it comes to the difference between Western and Nigerian education, thinking makes all the difference


Why would a 4-year-old child from Nigeria who is able to recite the alphabets A-Z, numbers 1-100, States and Capitals etc, still be seen not to be as smart as a child of the same age from UK who at the best try can only read 1-20 and identify a few different colours?

The answer will most likely be that the UK child possesses a deeper cognitive knowledge which can be attributed to their different methods of learning. While one was taught how to read, the other was taught how to think.

Due to the ever-accelerating pace of a changing and uncertain world, there is a need to expand our definition of learning from an emphasis on listening to lectures in classrooms and comprehension of page text, to the need for a broader set of skills that requires more activity-based competencies across a wide range of subjects and disciplines.

We have heard many CEOs mention that average Nigerian graduates are unemployable. This is true because opportunities for learning in Nigeria to a large extent are determined in classrooms only by teachers, and by the activities and experiences offered to the learner.

The world is changing but the Nigerian learning system is not. Other countries are developing deeper learning methods of constructing and transferring knowledge through active learning but we are still stuck in our linear mode of learning through cramming. The Nigerian students appear intelligent on paper but in reality are not learning anything new.

Active learning, which is a newer approach to learning adopted by Western countries, recognises the importance of allowing students to take control of their learning and move beyond the role of passive listeners to the constructors of their own knowledge. The students are not only given the freedom to think but also to create meaning by the application of concepts being learned to real-world contexts. This is the only kind of learning that can bring meaningful developments to any society.

I have taken the pain to dig into the learning system in Nigeria compared to that of the developed nations just to highlight the reason why we do not have Nation Builders. We do not have society changers because we are not raising any.

We are relying on foreigners to come and help build our land because we have failed to raise our sons and daughters to be able to perform this task.

So Nigeria at 56 years has zero amenities, no defence, all sectors are non-functional, high national debts, more places of worship than factories, and high crime rate because we only appear intelligent on paper but are foolish in reality.

I’ll submit by referring us to what happened recently on our political scene, where rather than focus on the articulateness and substance exhibited by one of the presidential candidates in several of his interviews, the whole of Nigeria went in search of his certificate. We chose not to see the deeper knowledge this man has over the other PhD-certificate carrier with no substance because that is how we were raised- to be superficial.

We are not being raised rightly.
We are learning with no content.
We are being taught how to read not how to think.

Thinking makes all the difference.

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