It is a common knowledge that the standard of education in Nigeria does not prepare Nigerians for competitive jobs, especially in the private sector. This poor education standard is caused by various factors, which include poor funding of schools by the government, use of inappropriate teaching methods by the teachers, overcrowding in public schools, dilapidating infrastructure, poor incentives for teachers, theory-based curriculum, and so on. Many parents send their children to private schools, hoping that they will obtain the best education the country could offer. However, despite efforts made by many Nigerian schools, their products encounter challenges when dealing with world class projects. They feel lost because they lack knowledge on how to handle certain issues.
To date, many Nigerians believe they should be taught everything they needed to know by their teachers. For any knowledge they lack, they blame their teachers. People like this insist that learning only takes place within the enclosure of a classroom, where a rigid curriculum is used by a teacher to impart knowledge, give tests, grade the tests, and determine the right the best person in the class based on the class grading system. These people assume that only people that pass through such an education system are bound to succeed because they have been taught everything they should know. As a result, when they leave school and meet a different world out there, which their classroom knowledge could not subdue, they turn around to blame their teachers, schools, education system, and, indeed, the country. Of course, no one should blame them because they were not told the entire truth.
However, this same Nigeria that has a low standard of education has been able to produce world class intellectuals, inventors, entrepreneurs, athletes, and so on. This makes one wonder whether those progressing pass through the same school system others did. Of course, many had the opportunity of going for further studies, training, and courses abroad before they achieved their feat but there are still those that did not cross the Nigerian border before they wrote their names with the indelible ink. The only secret here is that these men and women did not depend only on the knowledge they gathered from schools; they were products of informal education.
Informal education is simply the type of education that takes place outside the classroom. It is the type of education that is not restricted by curriculum, formal tests, grading, and other conventions found in formal schools. It is the form of education that existed in some parts of Nigeria, especially the Eastern part, before the coming of the colonialists. It is the type of education that focuses on students’ interests and nurtures them to bring out the best in them.
The importance of informal education can never be overemphasised. As implied earlier, it helps students to acquire the knowledge they missed in formal learning. Because it has no rigid curriculum students must adhere to at any given point in time, informal education makes learning relaxed and stress-free. Furthermore, its teaching method is practical and not theory-based as seen in formal education. And it teaches through real-life experiences instead of abstractions. In a country like Nigeria, where formal classroom activities could not provide students with information and prerequisite training that will give them the advantage to compete with their peers from different parts of the world, informal education is the best way out of lack of knowledge.
Sources of Informal Education
There are different places an individual can obtain knowledge outside the formal classroom. Family, religious organisation, and peer groups are the ones to come to hand easily. However, for professional development, it is best if the following avenues are considered:
- Webinars, seminars, conferences, and other gatherings that allow exchange of real life ideas between experts and amateurs.
- Coaching and Mentorship: These methods have been in existence since the beginning of time; and they work all the time.
- Tutorials and Courses: This can be online or offline. The good thing about tutorials is that they target those specific areas at any given time. People who avail themselves for courses and tutorials, even free ones, become experts within a short time. One of the best ways of learning something quickly right now is through YouTube channels. It has brought informal classrooms to everybody’s doorstep.
- Articles in blogs, newsletters, and magazines. Even though some of these articles may be opinion-based, they are still related to the writers’ experiences and perspectives. At least by reading them from time to time, you will have access to people’s experiences, discoveries, methodologies, mistakes, and victories.
- Books: Irrespective of topics and genres, books of any sort can pass on knowledge. There are many free e-books today donated by their writers to spread knowledge and wisdom. Those who discovered this early have been ruling the world.