Towards a Philosophy for Nigerian Education: Contribution from the Thomistic. Teilhardian and African Philosophical Stand-Points.

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Aniagwu, J.F.K.A.
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University of Lagos
Since the attainment of political independence by Nigeria in 1960, the need has been felt and expressed in various quarters to evolve a system of education that better responded to the genius, outlook and world-view of Nigerians, as well as served to meet their genuine "needs, values, aspirations and development" than did the system inherited from the erstwhile colonial masters. (Adaralegbe, A., 1972, p. xiii; of. also p. xvii). As such, there arose a problem of devising an educational system that was authentically Nigerian. It soon became obvious to most people, especially government policy makers, that every educational system anywhere needs a philosophy to undergird it, to hold it together, and give it direction. (National Policy on Education, 1977, Section I). Thus, there arose a problem also of formulating an educational philosophy upon which to erect the needed new system of education for Nigeria. Educational philosophy has been described to involve, among other things, "the application of formal philosophy to the field of education" (Kneller, G., 1971, p.5). Because Nigeria is an African country, and Nigerians, even today, still exemplify the characteristic traits of traditional Africans in their thinking and way of life, therefore, in selecting a system of formal philosophy that would lend itself to application in the education of Nigerians, the present work has opted for the traditional African world-view, understanding of man, and of morality, which can be termed a philosophy, at least in a broad sense. (Akinpe J.A., 1982. p. 2). Since, however, African traditional thought does not constitute a school or system of philosophy in the strict sense, this work tries to assign it a place in the worldwide phenomenon that is philosophy. That place is decidedly alongside the great systems of the spiritualistic tradition of philosophy. Two representatives of that tradition, namely, Thomism and Teilhardianism, which, as is later demonstrated, bear remarkable affinity to and congruency with the African Traditional thought are singled out. The three systems are then first expounded each in its own right, but African traditional thought more exhaustively than the others. There follows a comparatively analysis of the three systems intent on determining the areas and extent of affinity and congruency between them. In the same chapter, due consideration is given to the on-going debate about whether or not there is such a thing as an African philosophy. The position of this work on the said debate is also stated. Next, a major transition is made into the realm of educational philosophy properly so called, and this constitutes the second part of the present work. Here an application is made of the congruent and convergent materials in the formal philosophies of the three T's (i.e. Thomism, Teilhardianism, and (African) Traditional Philosophy) to the field of education in general. From such application, there emerge implications for the aims and objectives, content/curriculum, methodology, administration/control of education in general. In the conclusing chapter, the work gets more specific still by relating the said implications the three T's for education to the Nigerian context in the form of proposals for the theory and practice of education. In the proposals, the aims and objectives of education are so formulated that the principal overriding aim is seem to reside in the making of person, that is the integral development of man, via the development of the ability to think of character, and of the human body, all within the context of the essential sociality of man as envisioned by the three T's. It is established also that the curriculum of education would have to accord a status at least of parity to the humanities, religious education, moral education and cultural education with the natural sciences, the social sciences, and technical education, as against the undisguised bias of the current policy against the former set of disciplines in favour of the latter. (National Policy on Education, 1977, p. 16). In the area of methodology, an experimental, life-oriented approach to education emerges as normative; one also in which the role of the teachers in the educational process invests the character of exemplarily in relation to his pupils. Finally, the principle is established that educational control and administration should be vested primarily in the community; and any bodies engaged in the enterprise of education should do so only as agents of the community, and be accountable to the community. As such, the bodies in question cannot justifiably prosecute the educational enterprise without due reference to the community, or, worse still, in utter disregard of any contributions the community might be entitled to bring to the process of education, especially as regards the formulation of policies. Certain modalities for consulting the interests and desiderata of the community are indicated.
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Educational System , African Philosophical Stand-Points , Political Independence , Educational Philosophy
Aniagwu, J.F.K.A (1983) Towards a Philosophy for Nigerian Education: Contribution from the Thomistic. Teilhardian and African Philosophical Stand-Points. University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation Abstracts. 354pp.