Democracy and Education – How the former impacts the latter

By Guteng Walnshak Solomon


This piece is not a scholarly paper that aims to empirically look at how democracy has impacted our educational system in our journey so far as a country, neither does it claim to capture all the ways democracy has influenced our educational system. It however desires to help us look at the journey so far from a different perspective and whet our appetites into charting a new beneficial course for the education of Nigeria.

From the onset

I grew up and had my early developmental years in the rural areas. As a son of a retired village pastor, I had the mindset and worldview most or all kids in the village had about life, education, leadership, governance, religion, democracy and all other organized societal concepts about life.

Farming and school were all that mattered to my kind of community, and as a good son that I was, reading hard and becoming something later in life was the major preoccupation. Little did I know that there are so many variables that play pivotal roles in the journey of one’s life such as democracy or quality of leadership of my nation.

My story could be a blueprint representing kids growing up in rural areas, and those in the cities as well; who have a chance to secure a beautiful future but have to contend with the effects and outcomes of governance as it relates to quality education.

The Mirror

Indubitably, we all know what democracy entails. The machinery that makes democracy work is governance and what breathes life into the art and act of governance is the people elected into various public offices of governance.

No society is greater than the quality of its educational system and nothing (education inclusive) functions effectively in the society without a workable and functional democratic system. More succinctly, education and democracy mirror each other, and democracy in turn influences all other organized endeavours of the society. Hence it is safe to say that wherever the democracy of a nation is faulty, not only its education but every sector of the country will suffer.

In an interview with Charles Polok of SELL Foundation Bauchi (Sharing Education and Learning for Life), this is what he has to say on how democracy influences and impacts education:

“Democracy and education should or are inseparable pairs. The effectiveness of one enhances the effectiveness of the other. The role that Education plays in liberating the oppressed makes it the darling friend of democracy. Democracy is after all a system of government in which power is vested in the hands of the people. In essence, democracy

empowers the led, more than it does the leader. These powers of the people are enshrined in a document called the constitution. Democratic nations like the United States of America have to a large extent enjoyed the liberty and freedom that democracy facilitates. This is largely due to the level of national democratic literacy that comes from long years of democratic practice and reasonable quality of citizens’ awareness of their rights within the democratic space.

In Nigeria, it is not yet uhuru as our democratic practice is laced with flaws that are traceable to ignorance. The people are yet to fully grasp the numerous privileges that democracy offers, this is largely due to the deliberate manipulation of the political class to perpetually keep the masses ignorant through poor education, poverty, divisiveness and polarization. All geared towards the sub-humanization of the public. No wonder Paulo Freire, a Brazilian education philosopher, argues that Education is the biggest enabler of liberation for the oppressed.

Therefore, we can only get our democracy right when we ensure qualitative curriculum and non-curriculum education for the citizens”

His thoughts portrayed the mirror relationship between democracy and education. It further raises the problem of the poor and ineffective relationship between the two variables discourse. Therefore, for a nation like Nigeria to truly commemorate democracy on the day as of June 12th, a conscious and deliberate effort must be made to refine, redefine the education sector of Nigeria. And in doing this, it has to be wholesome, taking into cognizant formal, informal and semi-formal education, so that those that have not visited the four corners of the school can be included as well.

To wrap this us

Here is why this needs urgent attention; the economy, medical field, academia, research and development, politics, leadership, governance and even democracy itself have education as their bedrock. Every government that fails to look at it this way and make the right move and take the right decision in ensuring that education is given the right and urgent attention, the future of such a nation is in jeopardy.


…research shows that many children who do not have enough to eat wind up with diminished capacity to understand and learn. Children don’t have to be starving for this to happen. Even mild undernutrition-…can do it.

When people were hungry, Jesus didn’t say, “Now is that political, or social?” He said, “I feed you.” Because the good news to a hungry person is bread.

The #COVID19FOODDRIVEJOS was born out of deep concern for families who do not have food to eat during the lock down period resulting from the spread of the COVID-19 Virus. This concern pushed us at TCLI to go ahead to start a food drive.

This was not a vision we could pull off alone and so our Executive Director put out a call on Facebook and Twitter for any interested persons to join in the team. A number of peoplesigned up and we immediately started creating awareness for the #Covid19FoodDriveJos. This team of voluntary Nigerians have been AMAZING!

To the best of our knowledge, this was the first food drive in Jos, Plateau State during these COVID times, and it has spurred other food drives in Yola, Benue, Abuja and many other places we do not know of.We used social media to our advantage and in 5 days we were able to raise about half a million naira, sort out food requests, and package and deliver 178 food packages to 178 families. We also sent financial support to some needy families outside of Jos. The first phase took place on April 4th, 2020.

A second phase took place on April 18th, 2020 and we were able to package and deliver 174 packages to needy families.

For the third phase, we collaborated with the Jos Community COVID-19 Response Food Driveto facilitate the distribution of One-hundred (100) food packages to needy families in Jos. The distribution took place on Sunday, 26th April, 2020.

The food packages contained a mixture of:

  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Garri
  • Corn
  • Onions
  • Palm oil
  • Groundnut oil
  • Salt
  • Seasoning
  • Sugar
  • Cornflakes
  • Tomato puree
  • Spaghetti
  • Yam
  • A bottle of sanitizer
  • Face masks

The recipients were extremely grateful. Amongst them are widows, single moms, elderly people, disabled people, jobless people, people who depend on daily pay and have lost their source of income cos of the shut down, teenage moms and so on. We collected food requests via our helplines and followed up with phone calls to know their exact situation and also arrange for drop off.

We have reached the following locations so far:

Faringada, Tudunwada, Utan/Rock Haven, Rukuba Road, Shen, AngwanRukuba/Tina/Eto Baba, Bukuru, Zawan, Terminus, GadaBiu/Satellite Market, BusaBuji, Millionaires quarters, Gold and base, Rayfield, Old airport, Low cost, Abbatoir, Anglo Jos, La’mingo, Bauchi Ring Road, Rikkos, Furaka, Masalachinjuma’a, Miango, Heipang, Jenta, Hwolshe, Federal Secreteriat, Mangu and BarkinLadi.

We also took time to pray for and encourage the recipients. These three (3) phases brings us to a total of 452 families reached so far in April, 2020 alone! We hope to do more phases as long as the lock down lasts. The food requests keep pouring in daily! We may not be able to feed EVERYONE, but we sure can keep as many children as possible away from hunger and also away from stealing and other vices. According to Mother Teresa, “If you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

It has been such a PLEASURE to serve our community in this capacity and we hope to do more!

If you would like to help us feed more families, you can send in your donations through the following bank accounts:

Christine Vihishima
Guaranty Trust Bank
Thinking Cap Literacy Initiative
Zenith Bank

If you also know a family that needs food, please send us a request via our helplines: +2348031146813 or +2348065745896

A short video compilation of the phase one of the food drive can be found on Youtube:

You can also stay up to speed with our activities on our social media pages:

FB: Thinking Cap Literacy Initiative

Instagram & Twitter: @tclinitiativeng

“If you want to eliminate hunger, everybody has to be involved.” (Bono)

Welcome to Thinking Cap Literacy Initiative

TCLI is a non-profit and non-political organization founded in the year 2012, whose major aim and purpose is to promote literacy among Nigerian children using various creative channels.

Our vision is to roll back illiteracy in Nigeria’s next generation. We believe in the training of the younger Nigerian population because foundation matters and therefore, if they are given a solid foundation, they will excel in their future academic and life pursuits. Our vision is in line with the SDG number 4 which is Quality Education.

The aims and objectives of TCLI are:

  1. To promote literacy among children and young people using creative channels in line with the Sustainable Development Goal number 4 (Quality Education).
  2. To create literacy awareness
  3. To organize programs, clubs, and literacy competitions such as spelling bees, writing competitions etc.
  4. Funding and stocking libraries with academic and inspirational materials.
  5. Encouraging the development of core moral values and language and cultural heritage.
  6. Providing educational and financial support in the form of scholarship, and bursary to deserving young people.
  7. Executing projects which are aimed at tackling issues that keep underserved children away from school, in order to ensure they rise above such challenges and remain in school.
  8. Collaborating and network with potential partners to achieve the above.