Statement of the Problem
The desire to read, write and equip oneself for life is generally pursued by people and nation across the globe. Education is geared towards self actualization. No wonder, Nwafor conceived that “education is designed to equip individuals with desired knowledge; skill and attitude that will enable them live a fulfilled life in the society. Hence, education enhances national transformation”.1 The knowledge, skills and positive dispositions or attitudes acquired in school are applied towards the well being of the society. Thus, education is a worthwhile engagement, which is valued in every society.
The school and society are meant to complement each other. On this note, Onwuka portrayed that “education should take into consideration the cultural background of the people where it is situated”.2 However, true education cannot be actualized outside the terrain of philosophy. Philosophers are conceived as the ultimate educators of mankind. Plato was a renowned Greek philosopher, whose educational theory is geared to reconstruct the Athenian socio-political situation of his time.3 According to Barrow, “the formal Athenian education propagated by the sophists in 5th century B.C. was inadequate to address the problems of Athenian society”.4 The aim of Athenian education of his time was to inculcate the art of rhetoric and persuasive speech at a high cost for the rich or upper class who might use it to achieve their selfish political ambitions. Plato was aggrieved by the way his master, Socrates, was killed by the corrupt Athenian government. “He sought to form an ideal state in his Republic where future leaders will be educated in order to remedy the ills in the society”.5
This disfunctionality of the Nigerian education system is the alarming stage. It has become a source of worry to many Nigerian educationist and the non-educationists alike. The contemporary Nigerian education system has failed to address the basic issues in the nation’s life. For instance, unemployment, illiteracy, poverty, disease and superstition are on the increasing rate.6
It is regrettable that even in the 21st century, an era dominated by science and technology, the Nigerian system of education has little or nothing to contribute to the globalization process. The nation’s education system cannot best be said to be useful for its sake while at the same time being irrelevant to the individuals (recipients) and the nation at large. Of what use is a graduate who cannot perform creditably in the defense of his certificate?7
Knowledge gained from education should be used to solve the social problems. If however, the recipients of a particular system of education cannot apply their knowledge to solve the societal problems, such graduates are simply ‘educated illiterates’. Such is not the type of graduates a nation requires for its development. Plato regards education as “means to achieve justice, both individuals justice and social justice”.8 It is worrisome to note that when courses taught in higher institutions of learning do not depict justice and its tenets, hence, the society becomes problematic due to the failure of incorporating the real virtue of educational standard needed to guide graduates at the long run. The courses offered in the nation’s universities in the most cases are irrelevant to societal needs, while the more relevant ones are not taken seriously. A situation where a country is faced with the problem of food security and yet, the number of students admitted to study agriculture and agro-allied courses are on yearly basis far less than the number required shows the lack of planning for manpower requirement in that economy.
Another dimension of this problem reveals the lack of interest or inability of the graduates to use the knowledge acquired from school to solve the immediate problem of the society. They rather prefer executive’s offices to field work. The manpower requirement of the Nigerian society is in every respect discovered from the choice of University courses available and offered. Consequently, Nigeria still looks up to the developed countries for her manpower needs. The graduates of this system are in most cases termed unemployable, skill-less employment seekers rather than having practical or entrepreneurial skills which should help the products of the school system to become self-employed.
Plato avers that virtue can be obtained through three stages of development of knowledge: knowledge of one’s own job, self-knowledge, and knowledge of the Idea of the Good. According to Plato, “social justice can be achieved when all social classes in a society, workers, warriors, and rulers are in harmonious relationship”.9 Plato believes that all people can easily exist in harmony when society gives them equal educational opportunity from an early age to compete fairly with each other. Without equal educational opportunity, as the case in Nigeria, an unjust society appears since the political system is run by unqualified people; timocracy, oligarchy, defective democracy, or tyranny will result.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of the study is to examine Plato’s theory of Knowledge and its relevance to educational development in Nigeria.
This essay defends the thesis that Plato’s theory of knowledge is of relevance to Nigerian educational system and if employed, will assist to improve the educational system in Nigeria.
The methods to be adopted in this essay shall be expository, evaluative and argumentative. This means that Plato’s theory of knowledge is explored and is evaluated by showing its relevance to educational system in Nigeria.
Sources of Materials
Relevant information to be used for this essay shall be derived from books and journal articles. The research will employ a qualitative method and source for information through journals, articles, newspaper publication, textbooks and any available text relevant to the subject matter. Also, materials will be source from Olabisi Onabanjo University library.
Scope and Limitation
This scope of the study shall cover Plato’s theory of knowledge and its relevance to educational development in in Nigeria.