Essay Series: Education Reform: The crucial link in Nigeria’s quest for human capital development

by Anointed Ifekrist

It is said that on our way to the form, we have to clear the pathway, in relation to this; I’ll like to draw out some keywords from the topic before me and adequately provide their meaning. The first would be Education and Education Reform. Education is the natural, harmonious and progressive development of man’s innate powers. (PESTAL O221, H JOHANN 1997). This view of Education was to emphatically bring to notice that man is naturally created with inner power and capabilities by his creator and the function of education is to develop this. Education Reform is the name given to the goal of changing public education. Professional Michael Omolewa (2007) said Educational reforms emanate from the basic conviction that considerable progress can be made in a nation by its people through careful engineering of the educational process. The second keywords would be human capital and human capital development. Human Capital refers to the abilities and skills of human resources of a country. Human capital is all embracing; it is inclusive of persons who works now or are likely to be productively employed sooner or later. It is a continuous, a continuing process from childhood to old age (the link of educational reform and human capital development, which would be discussed later) and a must for any society that wishes to survive under the complex challenges of a dynamics (Okojie, 2005). Tadaro and Smith (2003) as cited in Noko (2012) sees human capital as a term econoists often use for education (the crucial link), health and other human capabilities that can raise productivity when increased. Human Capital Development on the other hand is the process and policies adopted by government, firms to increase the stock of human capital of any nation, in their quest to achieve sustained economic growth and development. It is the process of acquiring and increasing the number of persons who have the skills, education and experience that are critical for economic growth and development of a country’s economy. (Okojie 2005).

The way I see it, it’s as if Nigeria is blindly chasing after human capital development but ignoring the tit-bits that can actually bring the achievement of this development. We have completely ignored the role education plays in this regard. Education reform enhances the comparative advantage  of the nation in the global market in preparing the personnel that serve in the military and providing the knowledge base for technological training. Nigeria in attaining this feat of human capital development to its maximum is ignoring an important bridge which is “good and reasonable” education reforms.


 Education reforms in Nigeria started right at pre-independence era, it was serious agitation of Nigeria for freedom from the colonial rule of the British rule that led the British colonial rules to change the educational system in operation in 1954 from 8-6-2-3 system which is 8years primary, 6years secondary school, 2 years higher school certificate and 3year university to 6-5-2-3 system which is 6year primary, 5year secondary school, 2 year higher school certificate and 3year university. Nigerians then, were concerned about education, it was regarded as a patriotic struggle to effect change in the educational structure on the governance of the country. The hopes were re-ignited after independence, we were free from external control, it had to show in our education structure. This led to the creation of the 6-3-3-4 system. This was directly copied from the then American education structure which the Japanese also copied, with the phrase; “O Lord shall we succeed as Japanese did”. The system was badly handled by the central government at that time and the crisis of education began with the UPE (Universal Primary Education) that the implementation came before the policy. Mission schools were taken over by the government and when they couldn’t cope they had to return the schools and it has been on and on.


Basically, a country that seeks to experience rapid economic growth must give high preference to ensuring that a high percentage of its population is entitled to quality education. We must note that education reform is necessary condition in regenerating the deteriorating education structure in Nigeria. Dr. Condolezza Rice, former Secretary of State of the United States of America said; “quality of education of a nation is a direct function of a country’s national security.

Urgently, there should be an education reform in Nigeria, because it is the basic foundation of the human resources needed in the human capital. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of universities in Nigeria, but insufficient funds to adequately run the system, incapability of lecturers, bad teaching environment, overcrowding of students and many more. We have ‘Americanized’ our institutions already, offering junk degrees, also mandating the degrees, while those we are copying make it optional.

The traditional theory of human capital postulates; as more investment is made on capital development, it tends to increase the productivity of the workforce thereby increasing the economic growth at large. Implicitly, the human capital of a nation is a derivative of its quality of education and the quality of education is as important as national security.


The crucial link in attaining maximum human capital development is education reform. The president should establish an Education Reform Commission made up of experts to adequately prepare good policies that would elevate the educational structure of Nigeria to meet up with scientific and technological advancement.  The reform should be reasonable. We have had reforms in Nigeria that had gone upside down which put the educational structure in its present state. Instead of our education reform over the years to be a bold step towards human capital development, it has been a “disunifying” factor. The poorly trained personnel from the educational structure forms the human capital, and that amounts to “fairly baked bread” resulting to haphazardness in the economy. The economy depends on the education system to grow better.



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