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culture that it overshadowed the presence of our African culture and made our culture seem archaic, relegated and outdated in the global world.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 cultures/beliefs.
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 local languages.
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 on English.
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 background.
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 African culture.
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 study.
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 research work.
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.
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