The Role of Media in the Nigerian Educational System.

I put this on my blog for students who might have this assignment. I don’t want them to search too hard for materials.


(a paper by cisi Uduh.  Twitter:@cisi_uduh)

The media doesn’t exist in isolation. It must interact with the society in which it operates. The media influences the society and in the same way, the society influences the media. Powerful media vehicles such as printed materials, television, sound recordings, movies and the internet, influence all members of our society. One of the areas that affect the destiny of any group of people most is education. Education is a universal practice engaged in by most societies at all stages of development. This paper seeks to explain the positive and negative ways the media has affected education in Nigeria. In addition, this paper will examine how the media can help in the education process.

One of the school of thoughts in Sociology, the Functionalist School of Thought, avers that all aspects and institutions of the society interact with one another to bring about balance in the society. In addition, this school of thought is of the conceptualisation that all institutions in the society are dependent on one another to function. Looking at the society, one can say that the media has inadvertently pervaded many aspects of our social life. This is why the media is an agent of socialisation.

Socialisation is a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms values, behaviors and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.  This definition is similar with the definition of education, which is the continuous process whereby individuals learn and acquire skills, values and competencies needed in the society in which they live. From the definitions given, one can say that there is a big similarity between socialization and education. Ergo, if the media is an agent of socialisation, it is an “agent of education.

The media, referred to as the fourth estate of the realm, has a very important role to play in educating individuals in the society. In the course of discharging their functions of informing and educating the people on matters of importance to the society, the media plays a pivotal role in raising the understanding of people on those issues and events for which they have interest.

Media serves four main purposes that are listed below:

Of these four, education is relevant to this paper.

The objective of this study includes:
Examining the effect of the media on the Nigerian educational system.
To know how the media has contributed positively and negatively to the education in Nigeria.
To give recommendations on how the media can improve the standard of education in Nigeria.

1.3.1What is media?
Media is the main means of mass communication regarded collectively. It is the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society. There are two types of media:
a. Traditional media
b. New media

Traditional media includes television, radio, newspapers, magazines, tax press and other print publications.

New media is a term used to describe new generation of digital, computerized, or networked information and communication. This takes the form of blogs, wikis, Facebook, Whatsapp, e.t.c.

1.3.2 What is role?
A role is the function or position of something. It is the designation that denotes an associated set of responsibilities, knowledge, skills and attitudes.

1.3.3 What is education?
Onabajo (2000) cited Plato’s definition of education as a process through which we foster in the individual desirable and relevant changes in behaviour and attitude.

Education is a process of continuous all-round development of the individual for life.

It can also be said to be the process of imparting or acquiring knowledge or habits through instruction or study.

One of the most comprehensive definitions of education is that; education is the aggregate of all the processes by which a person develops abilities, attitude, skills, beliefs and other forms of positive behaviors and become of positive value in the society in which he/she lives in.

Education is learning and learning could be achieved through formal or informal means.

Types of education
A child gets education from his experiences outside the school as well as from those within. Different societies operate different educational systems in accordance with the historical and cultural experiences of its people. A society adopts the educational system that best suit its hopes, dreams and aspirations.

There are three types of education. They are:
Formal education
Informal education
Non-formal education

Formal education
Formal education is a hierarchically structured, chronologically graded educational system running from primary school through the university and including a variety of specialized programs and institutions for full-time technical and professional training.

Informal education
This is a lifelong process whereby the individual acquires attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experiences and the educative influences and resources in his or her environment.

Non-formal education
This is any organized educational activity outside the established formal system whether operating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity that aims to serve identifiable learning objectives.

To understand how the media came to be important in educating Nigerians, one must examine the history of the Nigerian media.

According to Akin-Ojo (2014), Print journalism started in Nigeria in the year 1846 with the installation of a printing press at Calabar by the Presbyterian Mission. The aim of installing the printing press was to increase the level of literacy among local people in order for them to acquire more knowledge from reading short stories and essays on various subjects. It should be noted that the Efik people owned a writing system known as the Nsibidi writing system.

In 1854, Henry Townsend founded the first newspaper, Iwe Irohin, in Abeouka for the reading delight of the Egba people. The newspaper was published in Yoruba. In 1860, it became bi-lingual when English language was added to the publication.

The newspaper folded up in 1867 when there were socio-political conflicts between the Europeans and the Egba people. After this, some newspapers came in and went out of existence.

The year 1932 saw the advent of radio broadcasting in Nigeria. This was as a result of the desire of the British colonial authority to link the colonies with the mother country.

The first educational radio programmes were for English language and were broadcast once a week in the early forties by the Radio Distribution Service (RDS) Under the Post and Telegraphs Department (P&T).

Babalola (2012) wrote that in 1959, Nigeria commissioned the first television station in the whole of Africa. The government in Western Nigeria realised that the television was a better medium than the radio which could be used to educate the masses. To back it up, it was written in the charter establishing the Nigerian Television Authority, a provision for fixed amount of time per week for educational television broadcast.

Educational television broadcasting to school dates back to 1959 when the television was first introduced in Nigeria. As has been stated earlier, the prospects
for using television to enhance formal and informal education were uppermost in the minds of the founding fathers of the country’s television industry. The direct involvement of the federal government in educational broadcasting began in 1964 when Schools Broadcast Unit (SBU) was established for the production of television programmes for schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

When Western Nigeria Television was established in October 31, 1959, education was seen as one of the main reasons for introducing television in Nigeria. It became the responsibility of the state to install television sets in schools, as well as supply sets to community viewing centres. The subjects aired elementary science, arts craft, English and history. During that time, educational broadcast were daily from Monday to Friday, between the hours 10am and 1pm.

According to Onabajo (2000), during that period, educational broadcasting was divided into three:

Extensive Educational Broadcasting
The major emphasis of Nigeria television has been in the area of extensive educational broadcasting, that is, programming geared towards providing information and informal education largely addressed to adults. Nigeria television has used this in assisting government in its campaign to mobilise the people towards higher agricultural output and increasing industrial development.

Intensive Educational Broadcasting
This is a process of harnessing television to the formal educational system.
The result was less than satisfactory because the programme was not properly articulated.

Education: Key to a Better Future
Nigerians have always realised the importance of formal education as a means of advancement and increased social status. The post-independence Nigerian government understood that education was the key to a better future. The electronic media (radio and television) were set on achieving that goal.

The first major breakthrough in educational broadcasting came in 1984 with the establishment of National Educational Technology Centre (NETC) under the control of the federal ministry of education.

In recent times, private radio and television programmes have emerged and they help in educating individuals on a wide gamut of issues ranging from HIV/AIDS awareness to classroom subjects such as English and Mathematics. Not only has the electronic media succeeded in educating Nigerians, the print media has contributed immensely in the education process. When one studies the history of the media in Nigeria, it is ostensible that education was the primary reason the media came into being.

Print media such as books, journals, newspaper and magazines and these influence the social, emotional and intellectual development of individuals. The most common medium encountered in school learning is still the book, which happens to be a channel used to send messages to the receiver. Publications help individuals in research. Through illustrations and cartoons, people can find learning easier and more interesting.

Broadcasting is the mode of spreading information widely by sound or vision to a group of people through electronic devices of several kinds (Ogunmilade 1988).
This can be done via radio or television broadcast.

Radio (audio) media is relatively inexpensive and is readily available. They are simple and easy to use. People who can’t read can learn from audio media. Radio messages are very stimulating to the human emotions. Also, they are available in a wide variety of subjects. Asides radio, audio CDs help people to learn.

Television is most effective for instructional education programmes. It provides audio-visual stimulation that makes learning interesting to students. It helps students grasp abstract concepts. In addition, it supplements the classroom instruction in subject areas where there are limited classroom resources. Films and music are also channels that the broadcast media uses to send information to the audience. People learn a lot just watching movies, soaps and listening to song.

The new media has made a huge impact on education. Now, people can read up on a wide gamut of topics. In addition, they can download books and videos that will help them in their research. The social media has made the world a global village according to Marshall McLuhan. People can interact with people in different time zones.

The media, as stated earlier, affects the society. It influences the way most people eat, dress, walk, and all the aspects of their lives. The media plays a vital role in shaping the culture of a society. People learn; they are educated, from using the media. The question is this: what is the function of media in the Nigerian educational system?

The media is very important in many countries as a source and tool of teaching. It is used for formal, informal and non-formal education and can be attached to the school curriculum and timetable.

Firstly, the media is ought to highlight the education system in the country. Investigative reports, editorial comments, opinion polls, blogs etc., are channels or platform through which the media can perform this function. This will enable the government and stakeholders in the education sector to know what is wrong in the educational system and seek for ways to contribute positively.

Secondly, the media enhances the quality of education. Due to media, people have more materials that are educational at their disposal. This will help them with research when the need arises. Teachers can read books and eBooks in order to teach their students effectively. Media comes to the aides of teachers who don’t have adequate information on what they are teaching.

Thirdly, the media has helped in reducing students’ dependency on teachers. Students don’t have to rely on their teachers for everything they need to know. They can read books and even watch programmes that will supplement what their teachers have taught them in the class. A physics student can go online to check the definitions of some concepts his/her teacher didn’t explain in details while in the classroom.

In addition, the media stimulates the senses (audio and visual) thus making it more interesting. It concretises abstract concepts and ideas. Seeing is believing.  Concepts that seem difficult in theory will be easier when they are explained in  the different channels of media. An example is biology students who have been taught photosynthesis in the class. It is likely that not all of them will grasp the concept. However, if they were to watch a video on how photosynthesis takes place, it would be easy for them to understand that which is been taught to them at school.

Furthermore, the media enables distance learning. Students can form online study groups. This brings about uniformity of learning. When people use the media in learning, it enables them to have access to educational materials even when they are far from the teacher. Schools like the Nigerian Open University make use of online materials. The students don’t have to be in class mandatorily. From online communication, students can interact with one another. There are times students in different countries communicate amongst themselves in order to get more knowledge.

Also, it promotes culture. By watching indigenous programmes, like Nigerian movies on television, people learn some things about their culture that they didn’t know. Some non-Hausas have learnt how to speak Hausa by watching Africa Magic Hausa. Through audio learning, people have learnt how to speak better English. The role of media in education is very salient and it cannot be overlooked.

Online interaction with people from other countries can also portray the Nigerian culture in a different light from what they hear. When an American chats with a Nigerian online, the American will be educated that not all of Nigeria has been ravaged by the Boko Haram menace.

Not to forget, the media inculcates values in the public. Education was likened to socialization earlier in this paper. The media is not restricted to teaching courses of study. It can also teach values, norms and mores in the society in which it operates. An example is a child who watches Disney cartoons. He/she will definitely pick some character traits like honesty, loyalty, e.t.c.

In the same vein, people learn how to behave in their everyday lives from their exposure to the media. The audience can learn some certain behaviors. People
watch their favorite actors and might decide to walk as they do. Some families might read about other families and decide to model their families after them. Media educates us informally by sending us messages that will be beneficial in our dealings with people and concepts in our environment.

Once more, it creates awareness. Education is not only restricted to the classroom. We are educated in our daily lives, too. The media helps in spreading awareness on a gamut of issues by airing programmes or writing publications that are pertinent in our everyday existence. HIV/AIDS awareness programmes on television and radio, publications on good hygiene, etc., are a very good examples of programmes that aim to educate the members of the public.

Yet another point is that media increases productivity. When people read up or watch topics pertaining to their profession, it helps them to learn more. This can improve their output and productivity level. An architect who goes online to read up new designs will be more productive than an architect who doesn’t.

Lastly, learners can learn at their own pace. When people have educational materials, they can stay at home and learn at a pace that is convenient for them. Ostensibly, people have different learning capacities. This will inadvertently help the student because he/she is not under pressure to learn.

The duality in nature is a concept that has been from the inception of time. In good, there must be evil. Conversely, in evil, there must be good. Inasmuch as media plays a pivotal role in education, it has its dark side.

Many students have become lazy because they know they can rely on the accessibility of information on social media. Nowadays, when students are given assignments, they go to the internet to “copy and paste”. They don’t research anymore. There are software applications that even help students do their assignments. When a student knows that he/she doesn’t have to wrack his/her brain to do their assignment, it encourages them to wallow in laziness.

Another way the media has contributed negatively to the education system is that
students now have reduced focus on learning. Social media or television distracts them. Instead of reading, students keep their eyes glued on the television screen. Alternatively, they could be typing their fingers away because they are chatting about irrelevant issues on social media platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp e.t.c. In some cases, they read are caught reading publications that are not beneficial to their studies. An example is a student who hide novels, especially romance novels in their textbooks. These students read the novels instead of focusing on what is going on in class.

Furthermore, the students engage in less social interaction. They don’t know how to make and keep friends in real life because they are used to their online friends. What happened to social and emotional intelligence? They find it difficult handling real life situations because they are used to living in Cyberland*.

In addition, people have developed a lax attitude to spelling. Some students don’t know how to spell words correctly because they are used to abbreviating words online. Instead of writing, “where are you going”, they write “whr r u goin.” How can this kind of student pass an English examination? Some adults can’t even write their application letters correctly because they are used to abbreviating everything they write.

The same way the media inculcates positive values in people is the same way it inculcates negative values in people. An example is a young boy who watches Prison Break. He might be tempted to think prison life is “cool”. This might encourage him to indulge in acts that will take him to jail.

Media should report more on education. This will enable stakeholders contribute to improving the educational system.

There should be more focus on education in lieu of entertainment. This will make it easier for students not to be distracted from schoolwork. If possibly, the media should make learning fun by airing programs and publishing articles that will encourage students to be more interested in education.

Private media organisations should understand that the government alone is not responsible educational programmes; the onus also lies on them too. They should be involved in getting personnel and equipments to facilitate educational media. This can be done by getting sponsors.

From the definition of media given earlier as the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, it can be said that without media, there cannot be education. If people don’t communicate, people cannot be educated. The media has contributed a lot to the educational system. It will have a strong influence on education in Nigeria.


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