Omoregbe opined that “since learned men began to appear among us good men have disappeared”. There is no doubting the fact that it is the disappearance of good men, brought about by replacement of indigenous values with western civilization. It must be stated that the submission made in this article is not to demonize western type of education but to rightly place indigenous education as Nigeria progresses with the rest of the world.
As Nigeria youths come under auspices of the Young African Leaders Initiative ‘YALI’ Abuja to commemorate the International Youth Day 2019 with the theme “Reforming Education” One of the speakers at the event Amb. Ndubuisi Kali pointed out the place of indigenous education in achieving sustainable development and how it should conform to our originality. While education within the four walls delivers to us the right skills for the labour market and the growth of entrepreneurship, while securing our economic future and enable businesses to grow and create new jobs, far more important, is the role of indigenous education.
The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines “Indigenous” as naturally existing in a place or country rather than arriving from another place. Indigenous education is a way of learning that carries the attributes and value of the culture it identifies. Indigenous education would allow for cultural alignment and continuity in individuals. An individual is what he/she is by virtue of his or her background (Culture). It reflects their values in all facet of their life and educational structure. It will put citizens in proper orientation and perspective.
In recent times, much attention has been devoted to the roles education is expected to play in the training of good citizens in Nigeria. The education we desire at this moment should not be used as an instrument for training within the four walls only, but it should be directed at the training of the mind and the development of values, and intellect. This form of education will engender mutual appreciation of our diversity which will create positive and constructive engagements, this dialogue promotes mutual understanding, knowledge, reconciliation, and peace, which are essential for social stability and ultimately national development.
It is the opinion of the writer that indigenous education is an effective instrument for promoting good citizenship and civic responsibility, it is also a channel for inculcating in citizens the attitude of tolerance, responsibility and moral uprightness. Indigenous education with emphasis on tolerance, can foster the much needed unity for the survival of the nation at this unfortunate epoch in Nigeria’s history of inter-ethnic and religious clashes including leadership crises that have become a common occurrence. It is imperative to encourage this form of education to inspire national consciousness and national unity. Education is a weapon as the Great Mandela said and it is potent instrument that can be used to foster peace and unity. Therefore we should evolve a type of education that will inculcate in the citizens the ideal of national consciousness and awareness.
This form of education must be a conscious effort by everyone to inculcate in the youths most especially, a set of values and attitude contingent on the need and problems of our country. This body of knowledge, propels and conveys set of values and behavioral orientation that are considered vital and necessary for the sustenance and well-being of Nigeria.
With the speed of globalization, it has become a necessity for syncretism of indigenous education to take place as well. This indigenous education will help reconfigure our negative mindset and change the bad attitude that has permeated every sector of our lives, such as, intolerance that cuts across religion, ethnicity and regions, neglect for our social values like respect for fellow human, moral uprightness, good conduct and good character, neglect for seeing our challenges from our perspectives and using alien solutions that will not address them properly, poor attitude keeping to time (African time). Through a more pragmatic method, that is, indigenous education we can inculcate in our young generation the right values and thus develop one into what the Igbos call “Ezigbo Mmadu” what the Yorubas call an “Omoluabi” what the Hausas call “Mutumin Kirki”
It is an application of trado-ethical methods as practiced by our people and the essence of this traditional methodology of education is to transform an individual into a good person and the sum of good persons result into good society which is in consonance with the coinage of Plato “Man writ large”. This process of education develop in the people the value of hard work, diligence, self-reliance, and the importance of acquiring character traits such as honesty and social responsibility, endowed with the ability to discharge his/her social and political duties.
Indigenous education can be seen as a movement aimed to break down established boundaries and stereotypes of “na so we dey do am” mentality that had been cultivated through several decades, that have affected us as a country in service delivery at all levels. This negative mentality is similar to the challenges that Charles Obiukwu, the Executive Director of Bolton White Hotels & Apartments and the founder of Ellington Electric had to correct while trying to bring Bolton White to a global standard. This indigenous form of education becomes very important because it defines beyond our outer image as a country but also as inner (spirit/essence) traits that become an evolving dynamic force relevant to Nigeria as a nation locally and globally.
Indigenous education sums up the total life in politics, economy, social life and technological system. Nigeria in particular is endowed with rich cultural heritage that can no doubt be used to address our challenges and put us on the same pedestal as other developed countries. A proper indigenous education should permeate and play significant role in the citizens’ social conduct and can be used as a tool for the overall development and to engender good governance. This form of education will take away the mentality of “no be my papa work” in public service that apparently and negatively affects the delivery of services.
Furthermore, the Nigeria development agenda, should follow Cultural (indigenous) approaches which will help to make development strategies relevant at the local level. Development responsive to place and culture empowers communities to engage with globalization on their own terms. It Recognizes and promotes social justice and equity within the framework of global ethics while enhancing cultural rights and identities, enabling democratization that empowers the country to exert an influence on the outcomes of development, empowering, marginalized groups to assume their rightful role in the state and enable them to benefit from development programs.
This obvious prescription of indigenous education is a mode of value reformation for Nigeria, one which is not an exclusive undertaking but rather an inclusive, conscious and systematic process of developing innate potentialities and acquiring experiences for positive integrative social benefits which is line with achieving sustainable development goals and if the attitude and values are right, it will effectively address the challenges we experience in our educational sector.