The Nitty Gritty of Accountability Problems in Nigeria Educational System

The problems of accountability in Education cannot be discussed without giving proper understanding of Accountability. Accountability, in terms of ethics, is seen as answerability, culpability, liability, and the expectation of account-giving.

In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment of and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies such as administration, governance, and implementation, including the obligation to report, justify, and be answerable for resulting consequences.

In governance, it is “being accountable for one’s actions”.

It is frequently described as an account-giving relationship between individuals, e.g. “A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct.”

Accountability plays a vital part in good records management.

Problems of accountability in Education

1. Poor Funding

Inadequate funding remains a significant challenge facing the education sector in Nigeria. It has persisted for decades. Funding of the education sector in the last 20 years has lagged the 15-20% suggested benchmark prescribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

UNESCO commissioned the Education for All (EFA) (2000 – 2015) project to recommend funding for education by various countries. In their recommendation, Education for All canvassed for a significant increase in education funding and national governments’ financial commitment to accelerate growth in the sector.

Developed nations owe most of their successes to substantial investments in made education over the years (King, 2011). Countries invest in education for several reasons, with the recurring purpose being skills acquisition to drive critical sectors of the economy, wealth creation, strengthen democracy, and the smooth running of society. The decline in the education sector became noticeable in the late 1990s when the government began starving the sector of funds.

The period was also plagued with incessant and prolonged strikes by university lecturers, which began under the military regime in the 90s to the present day over poor teaching conditions and lack of infrastructure to enhance teaching and learning.

The proliferation of academic institutions, government’s waning interest in funding education, and the excessive quest for foreign certificates accelerated the decline of the education sector.

2. Unqualified Teachers

Recognizing signs of incompetency in teacher is vital to improving the overall state of education.

Teacher incompetence is a major issue facing many school systems, students and parents.

However, the theory of incompetence states that personality flaws are at the root of an educator’s incompetence and that an incompetent educator is simply not suited to teaching.

How to identify incompetent or unqualified teachers

1. Illegal Activities

Incompetence and the participation in illegal activities are often related. Participation in an illegal activity falls under the umbrellas of ethical, administrative and personal incompetence.

A teacher’s involvement in any illegal activity, such as drug use, theft or public intoxication, violates a standard expected of a professional educator. When illegal activity is discovered, the teacher’s judgment and moral code is questioned.

2. Abuse

Abuse, whether physical, emotional or verbal, should never be tolerated in any school system. One characteristic of an incompetent teacher is abuse toward co-workers, superiors or students. Abuse falls under the ethical and personal levels of incompetency.

Abuse definitions can range from simply being indifferent towards a student all the way to actual physical abuse. Obviously, if proof of physical abuse exists, an educator would be immediately fired, but some levels of abuse are a bit more difficult to prove and discipline. Abuse can be something as simple as ignoring a student or making fun of a student’s work (or the actual student) in class. Not being aware and considerate of a student’s feelings further illustrates a level of incompetence.

3. Unprofessionalism

One sign of an incompetent teacher is the display of a general lack of professionalism. Dressing and speaking inappropriately can signal incompetence. This shows a lack of respect for the norms and rules set and expectations of educators.

A lack of professionalism is indicative of administrative incompetency, as it often results in the breaking of rules. By being unprofessional, a teacher fails to meet the standards already set.

Apathy toward work is indicative of boredom and incompetency. If a teacher is not concerned with the the needs of the students, the students’ education will suffer. Apathy is a form of technical and productive incompetence and can be inter-related with other issues. Apathy can be linked to other deficiencies, such as a lack of organization and planning. Losing students’ work, failing to grade papers on time and being late are all results of apathy. If a student senses apathy within a teacher, the student can become apathetic as well. Once the students stop caring, learning is hindered.

3. Lack of Accountability

The impact of a lack of accountability on education success is something that affected the nation in entirety.

In some cases, lack of accountability arises unintentionally due to various factors, including ambiguous roles, limited resources, or unattainable objectives.

Key strategies for holding individuals accountable, however, include defining clear expectations, providing necessary support and resources, and implementing systems to measure success. Successful leaders also assess their own contribution to the problem, initiate dialogues with team members, and collaborate in the development of an execution plan.

Furthermore, supporting and challenging team members, fostering a culture of accountability, and acknowledging accomplishments are essential aspects of promoting team success. This article aims to explore the impact of a lack of accountability on teams and provide strategies for achieving success.

The Root Causes of Accountability

Exposing the root causes of accountability requires a thorough examination of factors such as unclear roles and responsibilities, limited resources, poor strategy, and unrealistic goals.

Accountability gaps can arise when there is ambiguity surrounding the expectations and duties of team members. When roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined, it becomes difficult to hold individuals accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

Limited resources can also contribute to accountability issues, as individuals may struggle to meet expectations due to a lack of necessary tools or support.

Additionally, poor strategy and unrealistic goals can create a disconnect between what is expected and what is achievable, leading to a lack of accountability.

Addressing these underlying factors is crucial in bridging accountability gaps and fostering a culture of responsibility and ownership within teams.

4. Poor Implementation of Education Policy

There is an increasing awareness that policies do not succeed or fail on their own merits; rather their progress is dependent upon the process of implementation.

The normatively attractive  overview of policy and its implementation is predicated on three questionable assumptions: a chronological order in which expressed intentions precede action; a linear casual logic whereby goals determine instruments and instruments determine results; and a hierarchy within which policy formation is more important than policy implementation.

The understanding of Policy of this present society has greatly increased, hence, government at all levels have accordingly come to recognize that more needs to be done to try to ensure intentions are turned into results – in short, that policy failure is avoided.

Rather than just let policies drift into full or even partial failure, governments are now beginning to take an interest in measures in which the policy process – and especially the implementation phase – can be strengthened and supported.

Types of Accountability

The under-listed are the types of Accountability:

1. Personal Accountability

2. Professional Accountability

3. Legal Accountability

4. Moral Accountability

5. Political Accountability

6. Police Accountability

7. School Accountability

8. Government Accountability

Personal accountability

Personal accountability in education means taking responsibility for your own learning and academic success, such as pursuing opportunities, showing up and participating. In the professional realm, personal accountability means fulfilling job responsibilities, meeting deadlines, taking initiative and ownership of our performance.

Habits to Build More Personal Accountability

1. Make a Commitment

The first step to building accountability is deciding what you want to achieve, which will then make it clear what you’re staying accountable for.

Once you’ve decided, you have to make a commitment to being personally accountable – this isn’t really something that can come and go.

2. Get an Accountability Partner

One of the best ways to build more personal accountability is to find an accountability partner who will follow along with your progress.

An accountability partner is a peer who helps you reach your goals by offering guidance and making sure you do what you say you’re going to do.

3. Be Realistic

If you overcommit yourself, not only are you likely to forget something important, you also may start cutting corners in your work to get it done faster. This will only decrease the quality of your outcomes, so be sure to know your limits and be realistic when making commitments to others.

4. Eliminate Blame

Making excuses and blaming others can certainly give you some short-term relief, but it blocks any potential growth or improvement that you could make–and it doesn’t teach you how to avoid the problem in the future.

5. Gain Clarity

When trying to gain accountability, many mistakenly start by listing the tasks that they will be held accountable for. However, one of the first things you should do is specifically define people’s expectations of you (or your company).

This means you have to break your objectives down to the point where there is no room for interpretation about what the outcome should look like.

6. Create SMART Goals

To build personal accountability, you must work on setting goals. SMART goals should be set so that the manager or school administrator can measure his/her progress.

The manager or administrator should know exactly how to complete the goals to be able to measure the progress and assume accountability for what  have, or haven’t done.

Your SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. With this in mind, you know that you will need a clear deadline in order to claim victory.

7. Practice Holding Yourself Accountable

When you have accountability, there is someone (or many people) who are looking to you for an end result. People are counting on you.

Professional accountability

Professional accountability is an internally driven mindset.  It is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for your actions, decisions and performance in a professional setting. It’s about owning the part you play in your professional journey, including the successes and the areas where you may fall short.

This notion is not just about individual growth but the bedrock of organizational integrity and effectiveness.

Legal Accountability

Legal accountability refers to the theory under the law to find culpability such as a crime or a theory to receive money by way of a civil case.

It’s  the processes, norms, and structures that hold the population and public officials legally responsible for their actions and that impose sanctions if they violate the law.

The following is an example of a case law on legal accountability:

A person may be convicted of a crime committed through the conduct of another if s/he is legally accountable for the crime. One incurs legal accountability for the conduct of another by acting as an accomplice.

Moral accountability

It is responsibility that individuals have for their actions, based on their understanding of right and wrong. It involves being aware of the consequences of one’s actions and being willing to accept the moral, ethical, and social implications of those actions.

For example, if a person borrows a valuable item from a friend and damages it, they are morally accountable for the damage and should take responsibility for repairing or replacing the item. Similarly, in a professional setting, if a manager makes a decision that negatively impacts their team, they are morally accountable for the consequences of their decision.

Moral accountability is about recognizing the impact of one’s actions on others and being willing to take responsibility for the ethical implications of those actions.

Political accountability

This refers to the responsibility or obligation of government officials to act in the best interests of society or face consequences. Public officials should be held responsible for their actions.

In relation to Legal accountability, it is mechanisms by which public officials can be held liable for actions that go against established rules and principles.

Police Accountability

Police accountability involves holding both individual police officers, as well as law enforcement agencies responsible for effectively delivering basic services of crime control and maintaining order, while treating individuals fairly and within the bounds of law. Police are expected to uphold laws, regarding due process, search and seizure, arrests, discrimination, as well as other laws relating to equal employment, sexual harassment, etc.

Holding police accountable is important for maintaining the public’s “faith in the system”.

Government Accountability

This clearly states that those who govern are regularly accountable to at least a portion of the governed.

In a constitutional democracy, this accountability is owed to the electorate by all persons in government. Accountability can be enforced through a great variety of regular procedures, including elections, systems of promotion and discipline, fiscal accounting, recall, and referendum.

In constitutional democracies, the accountability of government officials to the citizenry makes possible the citizens’ responsibility for the acts of government. The most obvious example of this two-directional flow of responsibility and accountability is the electoral process.

A member of the legislature or the head of government is elected by adult citizens and is thereby vested with authority and power in order that he may try to achieve those goals to which he committed himself in his program. At the end of his term of office, the electorate has the opportunity to judge his performance and to reelect him or dismiss him from office. The official has thus rendered his account and has been held accountable.

School accountability

This is the process of evaluating school performance on the basis of student performance measures; its increasingly prevalent around the world.  School Accountability has become a centerpiece of both Democratic and Republican federal administrations’ education policies.

This is also concerned  with how school personnel respond to accountability in both positive and negative ways, and that accountability systems run the risk of being counter-productive if not carefully thought out and monitored.



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