Factors Militating Against Academic Excellence In Nigeria

By Peteroyewole → Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The two terms 'militate' and 'excellence' are contradictory. On one hand, militate denotes to oppose or have negative influence on something. On the other hand, excellence implies being outstanding, proficient, exceptional and to achieve a task in a unique way that goes beyond the norm. When we consider the above definitions with the title, we would have two pathways that each student can take. First, is the road that leads to academic excellence and second is, the other road to academic disaster. Meanwhile, the factors that militate against academic excellence and successes of every student are often, common. It now depends on the decisions that each student make to either overcome or subscribe to such factors.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Factors

Most importantly, when we talk about Militating factors against academic excellence, it can be grouped into two, either extrinsic or Intrinsic. By extrinsic factors, we imply externally-based challenges while Intrinsic factors are internally-based challenges that can affect a student's optimum performance in his/her academic endeavor.

Using Nigeria as case study, there are obviously more extrinsic than Intrinsic factors that may militate against student's academic excellence. The most critical among these factors is:

1). poor leadership: It has been a bane resulting to many socio-political crises in the country and cuts across all sectors. (i.e. education, economy, governance). It is simply a condition in which inefficient personnel occupy leadership offices in a state. In such case, the leaders may implement unfavourable policies that contradict educational soundness. For instance, many Nigerian students have been victims of incessant strike actions by certain educational bodies. During strikes, the academic curriculum and agenda of affected institutions are fractured and destabilised. There have been situations where students spend months running into years at home idle and waiting for the government to reach an agreement with concerned educational bodies/agitators. In such case, by the time a student would resume his/her academic work, s/he may not record significant success.

In addition, still connected to the issue of poor leadership are curricular reassessment and low-budget for the educational sector by the Nigerian government. In Nigeria, there have not been any significant reassessment of educational curricular and quality control since Independence. The general and current curricular was bequeathed to the nation by Europeans. There is currently, a dire need to reassess the Nigerian education sector, owing to the increase of unemployed graduates leaving tertiary institutions yearly. Apart from this, there is need for reappraisal of curricular which is meant to meet current not post demands of the nation and must include entrepreneurial and skill-acquisition programmes. Such programmes will grant focus not only to students at the tertiary level but those in secondary and primary levels. Having said this, a nation that refuses to invest in the education of her citizenry may not enjoy the benefits of enlightenment.

2). Family challenge: Beyond the ever-increasing governmentally-induced challenges, there is also the family challenge. Every student is a representative of a home therefore, positive or negative situation in a home may affect the performance and potentiality of a student. A case where a student is a child to an unstable, abusive, divorced or separated parents, s/he may become traumatised psychologically and will inadvertently, affect the student's academic performance.

3). Societally-induced challenge: There are also societally-induced challenges, for instance, in Nigeria there is the "get-quick-rich-syndrome" among Nigerian youths. They have been fed with vague idea of success without hard work or labour. There is an assumption that there is alternative to success gained from education. This idea is fostered by celebrity stories of dropouts and the advent of internet scamming. The social media, technology as well as social realities have brought a decline to ambition and passion of many Nigerian youths for education. Such social realities include unemployment of graduates which brings discouragement to the few with drive for education.

4). Poor educational background: As a corollary, there are some Intrinsic factors which are offshoots of extrinsic factors. For instance, students with poor educational background may experience fear and failure as students. In Nigeria, some well-to-do parents influence their children's academic performance through bribery and other schemes that create shortcuts for them out of rigorous academic processes. Children in such instance, may be unable to perform excellently in their academic endeavors.

5). Inefficient or unequipped teaching personnel academic institution: An academic institution with inefficient or unequipped teaching personnel may result to poor performance of students. Having said this, there are self-induced factors such as lack of drive to pursue success, laziness, truancy, low-self-esteem, poor study habits, la k of preparation for exams, inattentiveness in class, juvenile studentship, lack of mentorship, wrong choice of career and distractions through technological gadgets and romantic relationships.

As complement to the above factors, Crosnoe, Johnson and Elder (2004) identified thirty-two (32) general factors that may affect student's success and they include: fear, anxiety, confidence, concentration, health and well-being, social factors: peer group, family crisis, economic factors: financial problem and stress, environmental factors: good learning environment, class size, environmental condition (peaceful atmosphere within the locality of institution), teaching and training method, personal factors: lack of reading habit and reading plan, unwillingness to take responsibility, time mismanagement, lack of desire, decision and determination, negative attitude towards education, lack of initiative, poor literacy skills of students, immaturity, apathy, poor exam preparation, academic factors: imbalance of theory and practice of a course of study and heavy course workload by teachers.


In sum, through this study, we have been able to highlight several factors that can affect a student from recording outstanding academic success. However, a careful observation at the above factors indicate that academic success is a combined effort of several personnel (i.e. parents, society, government/non-governmental organizations, educational bodies, proprietors and teachers) and then, the student. On this premise, we therefore, recommend that the Nigerian government should increase the quota for academic sector and also, create a regular reassessment of educational policies, teachers as well as educational bodies should be given sufficient motivation. Moreover, educational bodies should create fascinating online resources that students can engage while learning at the same time. Significantly, there would always be challenges working against the academic excellence/performance of students however, each student has the self-will to determine what outcome s/he wishes to have.

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