AN APPRAISAL OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHIEF OBAFEMI AWOLOWO IN RELATION TO NIGERIA EDUCATION
The paper considered Chief Obafemi Awolowo Philosophical thoughts and attempt relating them to the Nigeria education.
The paper studied in brief the background of Awolo which cast light in to tracing what influenced his education thoughts, activities and his legacies. The paper further explores Awolowo believed that intellectual enormity of the people is most important because when a person is educated, his mind and body would be developed an transformed; hence such a person would approach issues correctly, rightly and timely. The paper also considered Awolowo’s introduced a similar programme, universal primary Education with strong commitment, determination and political will that helped him meet the objective of his programme are what government can apply to sustain and advance the current universal Basic Education programme.
The paper also considered the relationship between Awolowo’s educational thoughts and the Nigerians educational system which to a large extend agree especially in curriculum, teaching method, school, and goal of education. Control of education though where the paper also made critique of Awolowo thought. The paper also recommends the sustainability of Awolow philosophy in relation to Nigeria education.
Education is said to be powerful instrument of change and development of the human person as well as the society. Most of societal challenges are often times believed as finding lasting solutions only in education, education as a construct has developmental stages from the ancient down to the contemporary. It is of outmost importance that a students of the disciplines under the foundation of education who shall measure both as and educational instructor administrator and or policy maker be well eqvipped with these historical stages of the development of education.
The Nigeria educational standard seems falling with each passing day hence, the need to study the contributions of scholars with an aim at understanding the basics which will help in the building and revival of the falling standard of Nigerian education.
The paper shall focus on conception analysis targeted at understanding the contributions of Awolowo philosophy and how they relate to the Nigerian education system. This will help in uncovering the loopholes that possibly give way for the fall in standard of education and also serve a lead way to possible solution to challenges currently in the Nigerian educational system.
A brief Background of Awolowo Chief Obafemi Awolowo was born on 6, March 1909 in Ikenne, in present day ogun state of Nigeria. His father was a farmer and sawyer who died when Obafemi was about ten (10) years old. He attended various schools, including Baptist Boys High school (BBHS) Abeokuta, after which he qualified as a short ham typist.
Subsequently he served as a clerk at the Wesley college Ibadan, as well as a correspondent for the Nigerian time. It was after this that he embarked on help raise funds travel to the UK for further studies. (James, 1981)
Following his education at Wesley college Ibadan in 1927 he enrolled at the University of Landon as an external student and graduated with the degree of Bachelor of commerce (Hons). He went to the UK in 1944 to study law at the university of London and was called to the Bar by the Honorable society of the Inne Temple on 19 November 1946, in 1949 Awolowo founded the Nigerian Tribune, a private Nigerian News paper, which he used to spread nationalist consciousness among Nigerians. Awolowo died peaceful at his Ikkenne home, the Efunyeal Hall (so named after his mother) on 9 May 1987, at the age of 78 and was laid to rest in Ikenne, amiel tributes across political and etno-religious divides. (James, 1981).
WORKS AND INFLUENCE
He worked as a “provisional Teacher” in 1928 at the Wesley an (now Methodist) school, Ogbe Abeokuta before returning to lagos in 1920, where he worked at various time as a typist, newspaper reporter , money lender, trade unionist, and later as a produce buyer. (Awolowo 1982).
He proceeded to obtain the B. comm. Degree of the University of London in 1940. He qualified for the LL.B of the university of London and was called to the English bar the same year.
His three years stay in London was according to him, his most productive years in which he formed the Egbe Omo oduduwa (that consequently joined other forces in agitating for Nigeria’s independence) and completed writing. He wrote many books, his first book, path to Nigerian freedom.
Among his other works are “The voice of Reason, The voice of courage’, The problems of Africa: The Need for ideological Reappraisal, and the peoples Republic. (Awolowo 1982)
Awolowo was a thinker, ideologue, state man and political prophet. Being the first premier of the western Region in 1954, his Sojour through the rank and file of Nigerian politics is remarkable because of his immense contribution to the Nigerian project. His numerous works remain a testimony to the fecundity of his mind.
Awolow’s Lagacies include his progressive political ideas on fiscal federalism, socialist democracy, ethnic autonomy, fairness and equity in resources allocation, planned development and liberal and scientific education.
The personal experience in life. He lost his father when he was only eleven years old. This sudden death of his father change the course of his education as he had to take care of himself because there was no assistance form his uncle. (Awolowo 1968) He attended four primary school served as a houseboy and engaged in firewood business. All this he did in order to finance his elementary education.
ON AWOLOWO’S EDUCATIONAL THOUGHTS
Awolowo’s general philosophy is based on his Metaphysical and socio-political thought. Thoroughly idealistic in character, his Metaphysical position is a concern for a harmonious universe and the human nature grows out of his understanding of the nature of the universe, so that the kind of society he visualizes is that which will enable the individual human being, Awolowo tells us is dual in nature he / she has a body and mind greatly influenced his educational thoughts .
However Awolowo takes the mental to be superior to the physical. He holds that “the fundamental Law is that thoroughly is the cause and the maternal word only an effect” (Awolowo 1968) Awolowo conceive the human being as a prime mover in every activity a creative, free and purposively dynamic being in nature. He believes that the kind of individual he conceptualizes can best be moulded under conditions that are democratic and socialistic in nature.
A gains the backdrop of his general philosophic outlook, Aweolowo provides some of the strongest arguments for universal and free education in Nigeria. For him, education is a systematic course of instruction involving giving intellectual and moral training to persons, brining up the young; helping the young to develop, to lead out the best in him, and to evolve an integral personality (Awolowo 1981).
Awolowo’s conception of education lays emphasis on the three most important aspects of human growth, namely, mental development, spiritual selfrealization and physical well being.
AWOLOWO UNIVERSAL AND FREE EDUCATION
As a socialist, Awolowo espouses universal and free education. Basic to socialism are the ideals if justice and equality, which stipulate that natural resources belong to all citizens equally. Consequently, Awolowo canvasses for equal educational opportunities (Awolowo 1970). In order to make education accessible to all, he recommends a system of Free education.
In this regard, Awolowo rejects the practice of boarding schooling, accusing it of only catering for the few rich. He even rejects giving of loans or bursaries to off setting family economic inequalities, because for him, such an offer is based on the earlier false presuppositions of an equal chance of in school by all. He does not even Shane some of what have become official policies in the Nigerian educational system. For instance, he does not support the quota secondary and post-secondary institutions. This is due to his belief that these measures amount to accelerating the educational advancement of some sections of the country at the expense of others, which, in his view, will generate ill feelings like the ones it is attempting to address.
For Awolowo the best approach to the problem of the numerically inferior backward areas (like the Northern part of Nigeria), which will not at the same time undermine the development potential of the advantaged sections (such as the southern state of Nigeria) is free and compulsory primary education. In very overwhelming, the principles of equal educational outcomes, which simply the provision of equal opportunities for employment of those with the same level of edycation and intellectual capabilities.
In defense of his socialist philosophy of free basic education Awolowo argues that education alone provides are avenue for the equal enjoyment of other human rights. Politically, he believes that the educated individual stands a better chance of playing an active role in the affairs of society than one without education. Education brings about full personality development. To make education a right of everyone, is to Awolowo, a guarantee that the general population will be elevated to the point where other human rights can be demanded and defended Awolowo predicates the economic advantages translate into other forms of inequalities , education can be relied upon to effect some degree of corresponding equalization.
A philosophy of education that supports free and compulsory education for the entire citizenry must, at the same time, be concerned with issues of control of the educational system. Awolowo does not advocate a single pattern of control of the nation’s educational system which centralized the system with the federal government in charge Rather, he identifies with a centralized, decentralized and dual control pattern of the educational system. This pattern implies that education should be the responsibility of the different levels of government local state and federal. The state is to have full control over all the levels of education. Adult education is to be the responsibility of local government with the overall coordination provided by the state government secondary and teacher education is to be the responsibility of the state government. The state and the federal governments are to have concurrent responsibility for the establishment and management of polytechnics and Universities (unity party of Nigeria n.d No.6) Such responsibility involves among other things financing the system, formulating and executing polices that will regulate the system, and putting controls and monitoring mechanisms in place in the running of the system.
Frame the fore going exposition, it is evident that the major concerns of Awolow’s educational thought are two-fold, namely, the goal of education and the enabling environment through which it can be implemented.
GOAL OF EDUCATION
The goal, of according to Awolowo, is mental magnitude and the means to it is social democracy. Mental magnitude is the position that the mental aspect of man is superior to the physical element of a person and should take control over the emotion, desires, and actions of man-Awolowo defines mental magnitude as freedom from:
Negative emotions of anger, hate fear, envy or jealousy, selfishness or greed.
Indulgence in the wrong types of food and drink, and in ostentations consumption.
Excessive or immoral craving for sex. (Awolowo 1968).
Mental magnitude is therefore a state of intellectual greatness a state of conquering what Kant can “the tyranny of the flesh”, thereby becoming free Awolowo insists that the goal of education should be mental magnitude, and that social democracy is a necessary condition for facilitating the approximation of this ideal.
On the platform of social democracy, Awolowo believes that education with mental magnitude as its goal can lead to effective training of the mind the development of the individuals physical and spiritual well being and the subject of appetite to reason. In other words, the type of education which aims at achieving mental magnitude emphasize insight, cognition and the disposition towards intellectual development over the body. The goal of education ought to be the development in each individual of the knowledge , interests, ideals habits and powers that can be used to shape the individual and the society for the better.
In other words, education ought to be designed to achieve democratic ideals that uphold the dignity of the human person through the promotion of freedom, equality and human rights. (Awolowo 1968)
Awolowo curriculum is designed to favour such discipline as mathematics, Religious studies and other subjects in the humanities. For Awolowo, then the effective approach to teaching is the Socratic method, as it gives room for interactive dialogue that enhances human reasoning capacity and the cross fertilization of ideas. (Makinde 2007)