Education as a Tool for Effective Political Participation

Education as a Tool for Effective Political Participation

       Education and politics had been observed to be organically linked and inter-related. The level of ones political participation and awareness greatly depends on the level of the persons educational orientation (Okeke 1989). Uchendu (1995) declared that, the effect of education is felt by all and it is a generally held view that the educated young people are better equipped to forge ahead in life than the uneducated.

According to Spring (1991), the educational system supports the political structure while the political structure motivates the expansion of the educational system as a means of creating and symbolically, justifying new political goals.  It is evident that education plays a great role in socializing people to political ideas and norms and as well prepares people for political positions.

Spring (1991) further maintained that, education is viewed as an essential factor for political development or modernization because of its socializing functions to new and modern political structure. That education is used as a means to emancipate the citizenry and to create new elites.

Aminu (1993), in Africa, it is clear that the educated ones were in the leadership positions. In Aminu’s opinion, he posited that in Africa, teachers were the elites and they were on the lead during the colonial era and early independence period. They were pre-eminent in the politics of transition from colonial rule to independence. The roster of leaders who became national leaders at the time according to Aminu are; Alhaji Abubakar Tafewa Balewa of Nigeria, David Decko of the Central African Republic, Hamani Ilori of Niger, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kauda of Zambia, Medibo Keita of Mali, Hubert Mega of Dahomey now Republic of Benin, Lepold Senghor of Senegal and Francious Tombalbaye of Chad. Evidence of prominence of teachers and ex-teachers at the legislative level comes from a number of different countries  of one hundred and ninety-eight candidates to the 1961 Ugandan legislative council, sixty-seven (thirty four percent) were teachers and an additional fourteen (seven percent) were ex-teachers. The 1954 Ghanaian legislative Assembly contained one hundred and four members out of which (thirty percent) were teachers. Sixteen percent of the members of Senegal’s 1946-1953 territorial Assembly were teachers.

Aminu maintained that the above illustration shows the link between education and political participation, just as in Africa where teachers were regarded as the most educated segment of the society. A sober reflection on the Southern Nigeria, between 1952 – 1961 demonstrates clearly the significance of teachers in African politics as the following table will show, he stated.

EASTERN REGIONAL ASSEMBLY Head master/Principals Teachers Total
House of Assembly 1952 24 16 40
                            1953 24 4 28
                           1957 28
                            1961 34
House of Representative 1952 30 15 45
                                   1954 20 8 28
                                   1959 36
Western Region;      
House of Assembly 1952 24 5 29
                            1956 27 6 33
House of Representative 1952 25 0 25
                                   1954 17 3 20
                                   1959 19

Teachers in Nigeria Legislative Council 1952-1961

Source: James S. Coleman, Nigeria; Background to

Nationalism (Berkeley of California University Press 1958).

Eastern Nigeria, Ministry of information, know your parliament of the federation (Lagos 1961)

To drive the point home more, Aminu asserted that, at the ministerial level, six of the Eastern Region’s sixteen cabinet members of 1957 and six of the fourteen in 1961 were all teachers or ex-teachers.

According to Ijeh and Jeremiah (1996) the role of education in politics cannot be over-emphasized especially in developing countries like Nigeria. From 1914 – 1960, Nigeria under the colonial administration realized that education was necessary for her development, civilization and in fact, a prerequisite for independence. She accepted the view that it was through education that a dedicated, free and democratic government was possible as it gives sense of direction and focus. He further maintained that, if any government is to be effective, the people who elected the government, held offices, made laws, enforce laws and consecrated to be ruled, must be educated as responsible citizens.

In referring to the importance of education in political participation, James Madison, the father of the Bill of Rights, once stated according to Uchendu (1995:15) that;

A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a force tragedy, or perhaps both knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

Therefore, he maintained, lack of knowledge, which resulted from lack of proper education of the mind, makes effective government impossible.

According to Okpekwu (2004), it was observed that, education has always been essential to the achievement of our political and moral objectives. That it emerged as a necessary ingredient in our technological advancement. This view as Okpekwu posited, was shared by many as Uchendu (1995:52) observed that;

People all over the world, no matter what their political or economic ideology seems to be, regard education as the key to the future. Government in under-developed land has turned to education as a means of overcoming poverty and backwardness. Communists block nations with their emphasis on science and technology, treat education as a major weapon in the Cold-war.

Politics, Okpekwu asserted, is the science and art of government. It is a means of coping with conflict that human differences produce. Therefore, in any political theory, it is important to mobilize people, to convince them of your point of view so that they may accept, he concludes.

This awareness according to Okpekwu, has also involved all the developed countries and the developing counties are taking a cue from that. This is why Uchendu (1995:53) once stated that;

The object of all education is to secure growth and efficiency, to make a man all that his natural gifts will allow him to become, to produce self-respect a proper appreciation of others; as to beget a fullness for one’s sphere a life and action, and ability to discharge the duties it imposes.

The above assertion by Uchendu moved Morsy (1994) to say that, even parents have continually reinforced this view that the best way to obtain security and acceptable social, economic and political status for their children is through education. Education he said, provides the youth especially the opportunity to attain the basic and essential knowledge, skills, abilities and understanding necessary for future roles as an effective members of the society. This is why Herbert Hoover, an American, once stated that “education is necessary for democracy as the spirit of democracy can survive only through universal education”. Indeed, the importance of education cannot be over emphasized as the greatness of any nation depends enormously on it, Morsy maintained. He went further to state that, Lyndon B. Johnson, former American president in recognizing the importance of education, states that, “the greatness of America will depend in the classroom where children are trained to use their heads and imaginations well”. So, Morsy posited that, in all the developed nations of the world, educational institutions are regarded as the power house of political system. It is viewed that the youth as future leaders are trained there. So, he maintained by saying that, the feeling that education create awareness is certain. Most of the developed countries are aware of this fact. So, they believe and recognize that their strength, their wealth, their welfare and even their love for their country or their patriotism all depended on the happenings in their schools. As a result, they do all within their reach to give their children the education that will fully prepare them to play an effective role in modern society. These countries believe that democracy requires a basic training of the mind which will permit an understanding of its problems and formation of reasonable opinion upon them and the skills to see that it is acquired in school. In view of this, Morsy asserted, Theodore of the Cornell University once stated that, “in the United States of America, education is king, we believe in it for its own sake and we invest billions of dollars in it. Faith in education is well founded. Our billions of dollars invested in education have yielded superior and significantly, amount of social mobility”.

The facts above made the United States of America (U.S.A) government to treat its educational set up as a priority and other countries like Nigeria should take a cue from the United States of American example, he concludes.

According to Ochulayi and Adagba (2007) the educated in any society are those equipped with good knowledge about the political system which make it easy for them to work in harmony with the social norms of the society unlike the uneducated. He further maintained that, though few Nigerians in position of authority are uneducated but the new ruling class, drawing example from the present administration of president Umaru Musa Yar’adua are overwhelmingly drawn from the educated segment of the society. This has been the rule since independence even though it was not written but it was a widely accepted convention that the uneducated were disqualified from high political positions. Ibrahim Salisu Buhari, speaker, House Representative 1999, for example, was removed from office as a result.

In view of the aforementioned, Adebayo (2003), posited that, the need for active political management of the modern society calls for skill acquisition which can only be gained through formal schooling.

To lead others in the modern world, he stated, one should be somehow familiar with the language of economics, have some skills at accounting and other political legal intricacies of the social environment.

Ocho (1998), in recognizing the contribution of education of political workability stated that, democracy cannot work without educated citizens who are needed in the civil service, in the army and police, in the industries and agriculture. He states further that, it is only the educated citizens that can understand government policies and actions and are in a position to challenge obnoxious imposition of policies from the government.

According to Itodo (2006), education is a strong tool for effective political participation as it is generally acknowledged world over. It contributes immensely to the development of the third world countries like Nigeria where there are many ethnic groups with different languages. The only link for better understanding among these ethnics was achieved through education. A look at the African political arena Itodo asserted, shows that education motivated the few educated nationalists who learnt the secret of the western world to work together and raise local regional political consciousness among the Africans, a move which leads to establish that education was needed for active political participation everywhere and especially in Nigeria with multi-tribal ethnic and language differences as above.

More so, the importance of education in active political participation moved the early national founding fathers of Nigeria to travel oversea for quality education. They later became national leaders because of their western education he maintained. This education acquired helped them to secure a place in the national political arena. In line with this, they were made to understand that education was the only yardstick for leadership in Nigeria. They identify education as the important factor for political, social, and economic mobility. This made them not only to see that their children were given education, but that also some of the talented young people in the country to enable them meet with the challenging need of the society. To them, Itodo pointed, education was viewed as the only necessary factor to sustain independence. Therefore, the new emerging government at the time was moved hopefully to send their bright students to different oversea countries to learn the secrets of the western power. These students, it was aimed, would reinforce the political strength of young independent nations on their return. These early leaders, Itodo asserted, had great faith in education and that the faith was sheared by all. These early national leaders, Itodo posited, accepted Plato’s myopic view of the relationship between politics and education. As it was to Plato, he said, there was simply no difference between the state of the Republic and its educational system. The same view was shared by these early politicians. For both schools of thought, education was not an end but rather, the means by which the human nature can be shaped in the right direction to produce a harmonious state. They also believe according to Itodo that, the virtues citizen can only fulfill himself in the polis (state) and that the state must see to it that the training of the young was in consonance with the welfare of the state. If the educational system was good, almost any improvement was possible in the political order according to the school of thought. According to Plato, they as well swallowed the view that “education can create the perfect political order”.

According to Egwu (2006), political participation of any individual, group, cannot be effective without good political culture. This political culture will if properly impacted help bring sanity into the entire political system.

Political culture according to Egwu (2006), is the view idea of people in a given society or group towards politics as it is the totality or sum of the characteristic manner, attitude, value and belief systems that determines behaviour in a given political system.

Political culture according to Igba (2005), can be positive for example, belief in politics as a fair way of choosing members of government based on merit, patriotism and respect for the masses who voted or appointed those occupying public offices and that it may be negative as expressed in increased violence, ethnicism, rigging of election, thuggery, non-respect for the masses (electorates), accepting bribe in order to vote for an unpopular candidate, Igba concludes.

According to Egwu (2006), in any political system, individual or group attitudes and awareness are distinguished according to various levels. In considering these distinctive qualities, Egwu identified three (3) types of political culture.

  1. Parochial political culture. The group of people under this category according to Egwu, never have their political orientation, their attitude and values transcend above their local interest. They have no political inclinations outside their clan/village or community. This group find it hard to relate positively to general issues concerning their community as they have no time questioning any policy or programme of the government nor do they see themselves as being affected by the said policies and programmes. In this regard, they are very actively involved in their clannish, tribal or village politics and never see themselves as an integral part of the general government. Egwu further stated that many of those who belong to this group own allegiance to leaders from their clan, tribe or ethnic group alone.
  2. Subjective political culture: In this category, Egwu posited, the individual or group are passive. They are not actively involved in any electoral and political processes. They refuse to participate because they are not at all, encouraged by the nature of the political system. The non participation here is informed when the cognitive orientation of the person involved about the government in power and in the past seems negative and has no good impact on the person in question.

In line with the above, Orinya (2007), posited that education was not the only tool for effective political participation as majority of the people in Nigeria distance themselves from active politics due largely because of government irresponsiveness to the plight of the people and more so, the non commitment of the privileged few in authority to the peoples’ needs and so on. He explained further by saying that, in spite of the huge financial resources claimed to have been expended on the over all administration of the state, the provision and or the rehabilitation of amenities, the socio-economic and political situation of the people has been deteriorated almost irredeemably. He pointed out by saying that while political office holders are falling over one another in their quest for public resources, unemployment has almost reached unmanageable level, poverty remain a menace people must face and the fear of hired assassins have become the beginning of wisdom in Ado. For years now, he lamented, members of the government have it as a culture through their usual way as they demonstrated in their usual criminal manner, proving to the general masses that public resources are meant to be enjoyed only by those occupying position of authority and their friends and associates. He concludes by saying that, the lack of commitment to public duty by our representatives or agents contribute immensely to the discouragement of so many people in Ado not to have themselves actively and consciously involved in political activities as it is viewed as a waste of time, energy and other material resources to them so, they go about their businesses even at the heat of election, having considered political participation to be a wasteful venture.

  1. Participant political culture: In this category according to Egwu, people graduate actively into politicking. These class of people are fully involved in politics and are very conscious of political objectives. They are concerned in the process of input articulation and decision making.

The importance of education was what prompted Lord Bronghan (1989) to say that education makes people to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern but impossible to be enslaved.

Bronghan and Cicero were in the same line of thought when Cicero posited that “education should be viewed as that greatest gift a nation can give to its greatest citizens”. This was evident when he said, “What greater or better gift can we give to the Republic than to instruct our youth”. This instruction (education is very essential today as it was at the time.

According to Thompson (1991), education essentially leads man to knowledge, uprightness and pride of individualism. The deeper man understands his culture, the greater his wisdom. This position has made community education to gain its ground by making it possible for so many people to understand their culture and master their environment.

The afore profound role of education has greatly influenced men like Rousseau (1889) to view education as a tool with which to mould not only the individual but also the society. Therefore, put education as the social tool by which men and women are helped to prepare themselves to revolt against the injustice of the social contract that kept them in bondage.

Agbo (1990), accepted that education should be promoted because it is aimed at improving the quality of life which in the end, help to enhance political behaviour of the people for the growth and development of the society in the area of politics, economics and other social aspect of human endeavour.

In summary, education from the above reviewed literature is seen as the only veritable tool with which the basic and essential knowledge, skills, abilities and understandings necessary for future roles as effective members of the social structure can be attained.

Therefore, to effectively participate in the political life of our modern society, there is need for one to be trained educationally as that will help widen our knowledge and guide the individual and group behaviour of man towards achieving the central ideology of our civic society.

Education and politics from the reviewed literature are twin brothers. So, politics and education are inseparable. The demand for certain educational qualification as a criterion for one to occupy or vie for election into some certain political offices is a good example for this.

A true patriot who has respect and regard for the rule of law, abide always by the principles of democracy in a democratic society, where the citizens are given their constitutional rights to chose their leaders, rights to fair hearing, right to freedom of speech, right to life, right to freedom of movement, right to own property, are those who are educated. Therefore, an educated person sees injustice as an unthinkable habit.

Review of empirical Studies

          In writing the empirical studies of this research, it is important to bring out the objectives of the research, the method the researcher applied and the result of the research. This entails examining the findings of the previous studies and it includes:

Instructional Strategies;

   Musa (1991), studied education and politics in Jos Plateau State, using questionnaire as his instrument for the study. The population of his study was 500 people who were randomly sampled.

The findings include;

  1. In the investigation, it was established that people can only be awakened politically through education.
  2. It was revealed also in the investigation that those who are not educated show lesser interest in politics.
  3. The investigation also shows that it was the high level of illiteracy in the society that brings about electoral fraud.
  4. It was revealed in the investigation also that behaviourally, educational background of some citizens greatly influenced their political participation.
  5. Also that politics and education are inter-related.

In the research findings, it was discovered that more than 80% of the population lack political awareness as a result of their low level of political education. The few who are educated are aware of the political world around them but play it with greed. Hence, the need for political education and orientation in Ado Local Government Area of Benue State.

More so, Patrick (2003) studied; “the role of education in Democratic workability” in Jimeta Local Government Area of Adamawa State, His population of the study was composed of 1,000 people drawn from eight randomly selected villages within the area of the study. He used questionnaire to collect his data for the study.

His findings are:

  1. The finding revealed that there was a significant difference between those who are educated and the uneducated in political behaviour and participation.
  2. It was revealed that society can live peacefully in a harmonized and organized way through proper education of its citizens.
  3. The investigation shows that democracy can only survive through universal education.
  4. That because of its socializing function, education stands as the only essential factor for political development.
  5. It was revealed also that education equip the mind to know more about the political system which in turn make it easy for people to work in harmony with the social norms of the society.

—-This article is not complete———–This article is not complete————

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One Comment on “Education as a Tool for Effective Political Participation”

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