Education and the (aspiring) writer

 It is not news that Nigeria's standard of education has been in slow decline for the last 30 years. As a recent article in This Day newspaper pointed out, Nigeria's education budget has been getting smaller and smaller with each passing regime.

At independence, according to the article, the nation spent nearly half its budget on education. Today, it is about three percent.

Unfortunately, this lack of attention to the education system has resulted in a generation of people who are less educated than their parents were, despite achieving higher educational levels.

This can be seen in the most recent West African Examination Council (WAEC) results which show that only 31 percent of test-takers in the May/June 2011 session scored credits in five subjects including English and Mathematics. It can also be seen in the quality of manuscripts being produced by those who have gone through the nation's public schools system.

A common criticism of the Nigerian publishing industry is that it seems to prefer writers from the African diaspora over home-grown talents. While this can be argued, the fact remains that those who don't read good books, can't write good books.

Unfortunately, a poorer education system has meant that fewer people are being exposed to good literature in the classroom - which is where most of us are introduced to the classics.  More people find it easier to slip in a Nollywood VCD than open a good book and so more aspiring authors are writing stories that read like Nollywood scripts.

Publishers look for good writing anywhere they can find it – in Nigeria or abroad. If the Nigerian government fails its people by not providing them with the good, solid education needed to tell their stories well, then those stories will go unheard. And that will be an even bigger tragedy than poor exam scores.


  • cut the crap, because even aspiring writers can’t find a way to get heard.

    Posted by Baruch Michael on August 12, 2011
  • What you said makes a lot of sense with young adults in other international regions as well, Chinelo. Of course, the digital technology and age have definitely contributed to a change in the ‘bookish’ attitude overall. Baruch Michael outlines an important point also. It’s really tough these days for aspiring writers anywhere at all and I think, that a disciplined practice in literary talent and the first open door that comes along should be viewed as essential opportunities. Thank you for this thoughtful informative piece.

    Posted by Susan Abraham on October 18, 2011

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