WESTERN EDUCATION AND THE NIGERIAN CULTURAL BACKGROUND
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Between the eighteenth and nineteenth
century (1890-1900), these periods will always remain remarkable in the
history of Nigeria, even as it left an indelible mark on the sands of
time of the country. It was characterized with the end of slave trade,
beginning of commerce, coming of the Europeans (missionaries),
introduction of western education, and cultural imperialism; of which
all these amounted to colonialism. Colonialism in this context means
that Nigeria was ruled by the foreigners whereby our political, social,
economic, religious and cultural lives were manned by the colonists (the
whites), scrapping our traditional indigenous ways of life. European
missionaries were the brains behind western education in Nigeria.
Western education was the useful tool they used in colonizing and
pacifying Nigeria, but the truth remains that this same tool was later
used by the Nigerians to decolonize them, what a paradox! It is against
this backdrop that the issue of western education still thrills the
history of Nigeria.
However, this does not mean to say that
before the coming of the Europeans there were forms of education in
Nigeria, of cause there were though their coming changed our traditional
forms of education and paved way for civilization. Abdou Moumouni
asserted that our traditional or local form of education which was
passed through songs, stories, dances, etc were used quite early in
inculcating our norms and values into our children at the early stages
of their lives. This attitude has the advantage of making Nigeria
culture become a part and parcel of Nigerian children, knowing their
culture at their finger tips (Moumouni 1968, p. 16). Education at that
time was basically children learning by example and doing what is taught
(Magnus Bassey 1991).
Western education and culture began to
have its way into Nigeria after the meeting of the whites with Nigerians
as a result of the Berlin conference. Colonialism disrupted the growth
of our African culture and integrated us with European culture. It so
permeated into our African culture that it overshadowed the presence of
our African culture and made our culture seem archaic, relegated and
outdated in the global world. Western culture and civilization were
imported and our Nigerian culture swept underfoot (Kasongo 2010:316).
This therefore stands as a threat to every Nigerian that decisive steps
need to be made to revive our culture before it goes into extinction. It
is appalling to note that about two hundred years of colonialism robbed
Nigerians of so many potentials she is blessed with.
However, it is worthy of note that the
purpose of the education by the European missionaries was to aid spread
Christianity, so Africans-Nigerians might easily accept the faith;
though this purpose was forfeited as it inversely made Nigerians to be
over-dependent on the whites (Fanfunwa, 1974). It ends up making even
Nigerian students Nigerians only from their lips, but English in their
opinion, moral behavior and intellect (Ukeje 1976).
Inasmuch as education is offered, be it
western or traditional, its main thrust is to mold the citizens into
shapes that they will contribute meaning into the structurally of their
society for sustainable all-round development. For such individuals to
achieve this, the culture of their society must never be neglected,
reason being that for education to be effective and meaningful, it must
be spiced with culture. Even before the whites and the missionaries came
into Africa, they came with the mindset of scrapping our
Culture is an aspect of life that makes
an individual unique while education is equally an aspect of life that
equips an individual on how to participate in the development of his
country. Therefore, one of the purposes of education should be
empowering an individual with the necessary skills of preserving his
culture, heritage, identity for the sake of posterity. The main
important of western education is to enhance good living, but it has
gone too far to wipe off our culture.
There is therefore need to examine the
damages caused by western education on the Nigerian cultural background
and make recommendations on how there will be corrected in other to
uphold the Nigerian culture.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Over time, our Nigerian indigenous
languages seem to going into extinction. English language has swept over
our local languages, this is very clear in our Nigerian homes were
parents converse to their wards in English language phasing off our
Similarly, 95% of schools in Nigeria
teach in the English language and when they are taught with it of cause
less should not be expected from the students because every speech made
around them is in English language. Nigerian local languages are barely
taught in schools. Infact, some schools’ management have laws in place
to punish any student caught conversing in his/her local dialect.
In addition to the aforementioned,
Nigerian parents prefer bearing their kids English names to some of our
local names like Seun, Chiwe, Edidiong, Fattima, etc. pertinent things
that would help promote our culture (material/immaterial) are centered
However, our good morals and virtues are
being relegated as well. Good morals like good sense of dressing,
respectful manner of speech, honesty and hard work. With the advent of
western education, obscene dressing has now become a part of us which
our forefathers greatly opposed. Also, materialism has overshadowed
honesty and hard work which Nigerians were known for.
Consequently, one of our good morals was
the respect Nigerian youth’s accord to their elderly ones. Before now,
some parts of Nigeria, the Yoruba’s to be precise prostrate to greet
their elderly ones. These days, that is gradually becoming a fairy tale
as some youths find it difficult to greet and even when they try,
respect will be lacking in it.
Even our African mode of marriage is
gradually phasing off with time, all these and more are the
disadvantages of the western education on our Nigerian cultural
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is to examine western education and the Nigerian cultural background.
Other specific objectives include:
a) To determine the impacts of western education on the Nigerian cultural background.
b) To examine the possible ways we can revive our African culture.
c) To examine the benefits of western education on the Nigerian cultural background.
d) To determine the mean difference between western education and the Nigerian cultural background.
e) To make recommendations on ways to promote our Nigerian cultural background.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions are generated to guide this study:
a) What are the impacts of western education on the Nigerian cultural background?
b) What are the possible ways to revive our Nigerian cultural background?
c) What are the benefits of western education on the Nigerian cultural background?
d) Is there a mean difference between western education and the Nigerian cultural background?
1.5 RESEARCH OF HYPOTHESIS
H0: There are no impacts of western education on the Nigerian cultural background.
H1: There are impacts of western education on the Nigerian cultural background.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is meant to educate, inform,
sensitize and enlighten the general public, the government and policy
makers on western education and the Nigerian cultural background.
The general public need to be aware that
our Nigerian culture is gradually phasing off for the European culture
and this is an error. It therefore beholds on every Nigerian big and
small, great and mighty to do the needful in other to revitalize our
The government has a great part to play as it can put meaningful programmes in place to correct such discrepancies.
Also, policy makers are not left out as they need to formulate policies that will reappraise our Nigerian cultural background.
This study will be of immense benefit to
other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be
used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study
contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study is restricted to western education and the Nigerian cultural background.
Limitations of study
- 1. Financial constraint-
Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in
sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in
the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
- 2. Time constraint- The
researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic
work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
- WESTERN EDUCATION: Is a system originated from the
west and penetrated to the world after Islamic education in the earliest
15th century. Its main approach was the modernization of social life
through science and technological advancement (Farid, 2005).
- NIGERIAN CULTURE: Nigerian culture is as
multi-ethnic as the people in Nigeria. The people of Nigeria still
cherish their traditional languages, music, dance and literature.
Nigeria comprises of three large ethnic groups, which are Yoruba,
Hausa-Fulani and Igbo. However there are other ethnic groups as well.
Thus culture in Nigeria is most positively multi-ethnic which gives a
lot of value to different types of arts, which primarily include ivory
carving, grass weaving, wood carving, leather and calabash. Pottery,
painting, cloth weaving and glass and metal works.
- CIVILISATION: This is the stage of human social development and organization which is considered most advanced.
- COLONIALISM: This is the policy or practice of
acquiring full or partial political control over another country,
occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.
Abdou, M. (1968). Education in Africa. New York: F.A. Praeger
Magnus, O. B (1991) “Missionary Rivalry
and Educational Expansion in Southern Nigeria,1885-1932,” Journal of
Negro Education 60, no.1 (winter 1991).
Kasongo, K. (2010) “Impact of
Globalisation on Traditional African Religion and Cultural Conflict”.
Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences. Vol.2. N01.
Fafunwa, P.O. (1977). History of Education. Benin City. Osasu Publishers.
Ukeje, B.O. (1979) Foundation of Educations. Benin City. Ethiope Publication Company
Farid S. A (2005). from Jamiah to University. multiculturalism and Christian Muslim dialogue. International sociological association, National University Singapore.