The Universal Basic Education system in Nigeria was launched at a time when Nigeria was realising the consequences of its mono-economic background. The then administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo, rtd, introduced the Universal Basic Education. It took into consideration, the plight of the Nigerian educated citizens, who instead of graduating out of school to be self-reliant and independent, end up still as educated dependent citizens, bereft of entrepreneurial skills, who wait endlessly for white-collar employment. That sector appears to be too saturated that it cannot absorb the teeming number of graduates tertiary institutions in the country turn out on yearly basis.
The goal of the Universal Basic Education was, among others, to provide the child with diverse basic knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship, wealth generation and educational advancement as well as provide opportunities for the child to develop manipulative skills that will enable him function effectively in the society.
Apart from the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) which captures children from age 0-5 years, Universal Basic Education could best be described as a foundation for life-long learning.
For a country that has been considering agriculture as an alternative to oil exploration which had been the sole source of revenue for the country, one would have expected an early introduction of agriculture as a compulsory core subject from Basic One (1) through Basic Nine (9). The reason is to acquaint the child with the nitty gritty of agriculture as a revenue earner. The fact that agriculture can be undertaken with little take-off finance makes its early introduction worth-while.
Unfortunately, from Basic One (1) through Nine (9), agriculture was not considered among the core subjects instead it is to be chosen as an elective.
This goes a long way to express the extent of our sincerity and seriousness in addressing the problem of Nigerian economy through agriculture. The truth is that societal values and problems are best addressed through the instrument of the school.
The embodiment of the attitudes, knowledge and skills which a nation intends to impart to her citizens can only be facilitated through the school via the curriculum.
The school curriculum content is a very viable tool used by any nation to achieve greatness. It is an organization of subject matter, which addresses the needs, problems, desires, values and dreams of a society designed to be achieved through the school.
When Nigeria saw the need to make her citizens computer-literate, coupled with the problem of girl-child marriage (early marriage), she was able to address these issues through the integration of computer education, the population and family life education with other related subjects. Today, the outcome is a teeming population of computer literates, which has facilitated the learning of information and communication technology, (ICT) since the knowledge of computer is made available to all and sundry.
Ozturk, Llhan, in his article: “The Role of Education in Economic Development: a Theoretical Perspective, published in Journal of Rural Development and Administration, vol: xxxiii, writes that education in every sense, remains one of the fundamental factors of development, hence no country can achieve sustainable economic development without substantial investment in human capital.
He contends that education enriches people’s understanding of themselves and the world, improves the quality of their lives and leads to broad social benefits to individuals and society.
Suffice it to say that education raises people’s productivity and creativity while promoting entrepreneurship and technological advancements in addition to its role in security, economic and social progress as well as improve income distribution.
Amidst numerous definitions or explanation of education that have been advanced by various scholars, its relevance to the society via the impact on humanity has remained one salient point that keeps education outstanding. Whether formal or informal, education remained a veritable tool for societal transformation.
In recognition of the auspicious role of this all-important course of life, in the overall development of humanity, which is evident in the society, Federico Major, a director-general of UNESCO once asked, “If not through education, can the common welfare-development as we would term it today, be advanced and ensured?”
Of course, in UNESCO, education is not only considered an end, it is also viewed as a means to an end hence its enshrinement in the universal declaration of human rights. Those who understand the working of education consider it a principal and if possible a sole means of action.
The relationship that exists between the society and the educational sector could best be described as a symbiotic one; this therefore makes it difficult to anyone to treat any of the nomenclatures in isolation. It takes the educational sector to analyse the problem(s) of the society so as to use its pedagogic principles to bring about a lasting solution to the societal problem(s).
I think we may actually be running after the shadows if we fail to pass through the early child-care programme, the Universal Basic Education programme of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to send a message of the need to redirect the strength and focus of Nigerians to agriculture as an additional revenue base of the country.