Background of the study

The story of Geography’s development as a popular subject in English schools is both fascinating and complex. This chapter attempts a personal overview of the evolution of geography education and this inevitably is influenced by the writer’s long-standing involvement with the Institute of Education as both student and member of staff. A number of publications have discussed the history of geographical education but probably the most succinct and accessible are the four articles by Boardman and McPartland (2003a, 2003b, 20093c, 2003d) in successive issues of Teaching Geography, to mark the centenary of the Geographical Association (GA). Marsden too has written about the history of geography education in various places, for instance 2005, 2006 and 2007. The most recent and substantial work is that of Walford (2000) and unsurprisingly Balchin’s history of the Geographical Association (2003) is a story closely intertwined with the subject’s evolution.

During most of this century regional geography has been the dominant paradigm in school curriculums. A key influence was Herbertson, former Director of the School of Geography, Oxford University, whose seminal paper in 1905 divided the world into major natural regions. It is probable that his influence on what was taught in British Schools was enormous and has since been unsurpassed’ (Graves, 1975). This was not only because he used modified natural regions in his successful series of school textbooks (written with his wife), but because the concept was used in textbooks written by schoolteachers. For instance Brooks, Pickles and Stembridge produced a textbook series covering continent by continent. Indeed the prolific textbook writer Dudley Stamp acknowledged his debt to Herbertson and the natural region concept in 1957. A good illustration of the longevity of the regional framework underpinning syllabuses was the success of Preece and Wood’s The Foundations of Geography (1938), ‘The dominance of the regional framework in syllabus design continued during the post-war years’, (Boardman and McPartland, 1993).

As recently as 1960 the Ministry of Education lauded the regional framework, which it claimed lay at the ‘very heart of geography’ (1960). The main criticism of this approach was its lack of intellectual challenge and that it tended ‘to degenerate into the repetitive learning of factual information’ (Boardman and McPartland, 1993). Some argued that the sample studies approach was introduced as a counter to the disadvantages of the regional approach. The argument went that such a detailed study of any geographical unit such as a farm, village, valley or factory required the knowledge and understanding of ideas and concepts that could be generalized and ‘was grounded in the lives and occupations of real people in real places, giving it the sanctity of authenticity’ Boardman and McPartland, (1993). The ‘study’ element of sample study implied data description, analysis and evaluation. So successful was this approach that its popularity ranged from Fairgrieve and Young’s Real Geography, the first of six books to be published in 1939, to the Study Geography series of five books by Rushby, Bell and Dybeck (1967).Over the years, books written for geography teachers have been influential on practice and have reflected the content and pedagogies of their times. One particular early moment was James Fairgrieve’s Geography in School, first published in 1926 and running to a fourth edition in 1937. He had left William Ellis School in 1912 to become a lecturer in the London Day Training College (later to become the University Of London Institute Of Education). The book presented his views on geography as developed over 20 years at the Institute and contains the well-known remark that ‘The function of geography is to train future citizens to imagine accurately the condition of the great world stage and so help them to think sanely about political and social problems in the world around

The Nigeria Educational policy places much emphasis on the study of science subject at the secondary school level. This led to the adoption of 6-3-3-4 of education being practiced in Nigeria and if well implemented could bring about self – reliance.

Geography school of thought defined geography as the study of the earth, more precisely, as a science of spatial relationship which focuses attention mainly on the interaction between man and his environment. Geography is perhaps the oldest discipline and, indeed it is called the mother of the science and no science can claim a longer genealogy than geography. (Ofomata, 1960).The very of the subject as revealed by eminent scholars made it the darling subject. The content and scope of Geography in the present syllabus if properly handled ensure enough ground or higher studies, which may serve as springboard for related fields of study like survey, cartography, geology, civil and structural Engineering and Quantity surveying.

Geography provokes and answers questions about the natural and the human worlds, using different scales of enquiry to view them from different perspectives. It develops knowledge of places and environments throughout the world, and understanding of maps, and a range of investigative and problem-solving skills both inside and outside the classroom. As such, it prepares pupils for adult life and employment. Geography is a focus within the curriculum for understanding and resolving issues about the environment and sustainable development. It is also an important link between the natural and social sciences. As pupils study geography, they encounter different societies and cultures. This helps them realise how nations rely on each other. It can inspire them to think about their own place in the world, their values, and their rights and responsibilities to other people and the environment.

Statement of the Problem

Despite the enviable position of the subject in the school curriculum, students still fail to show the required interest in Geography. Geography Education is not just a body of knowledge, it is activity. It deals with the observations of the natural phenomena.

In the past decade, concern about ‘’geographic illiteracy’’ have been the catalyst for a new focus on geography education in the country. Our future as a nation depends substantially on our knowledge base, and many observers agree that current problem with productivity and competitiveness can be traced in large part to deficiencies in this knowledge base among our fellow citizens. One of the most glaring of these deficiencies is in our knowledge of geography education, which is the reason for this part.

The latest happening in the country and other parts of the worlds have shown how little we understand interdependence which forms the basis of our existence as effective human beings constantly struggling to change the face of the planet on which we live. In the past, the world was spatially a narrow one. It remains so many years especially in the traditional societies; In order to live and survive on any part of the planet ’EARTH’. It is useful however, to recall that man as an observing, comparing and reflecting animal has always been a geographer.

Again, on all counts geography is a popular subject at both school and university levels. Some countries, like Russia, United States, did at one time on the other, make the study of Geography compulsory at school level. Yet it has never been agreed what geography can do, apart from teaching. Many still believe that geographers, are trained so that they can train more geographers, outside the classroom, the geographer is thought of merely as a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about places and phenomenon on the surface of the earth. Geography is an academic discipline, and a far more serious and worthwhile occupation geographers have a great deal to contribute  towards achieving society’s desire for better living condition through better  management of human affair especially, the environmental and human resources. Geography graduates as a result of the training and special program, are capable of performing a variety of specialized and general duties to the satisfaction of any employer. But there is appointment of jobs they are well qualified to do. This trend as omission which we believe has arises out of the fact that our employers of labor and employment agencies are not fully aware of what geographers do and what duties they can ably perform. The situation is being redressed in the more developed nations of the world through the publication of career guides, such as those put out by Royal Geographical society, Balchim, (1998). The Geography Association, Lawton (2000), Ologe (2005). Outline such a guide for geography graduates in Nigeria.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to:

  1. assess the effects of geography illiteracy in Nigeria;
  2. highlight the importance of geography education in Nigeria; development.
  3. identify the problems facing geography education in schools; and
  4. proffer solutions to the identified problems facing geography education in school.

Research Question

The following research questions are formulated and put in place to guide the relevance of geography education in higher institution of learning of geography facilitate the development of regional and urban planning in Nigeria;

  1. Does the teaching and learning of geography contribute to the National development of Nigeria?
  2. Does geography education has any relevant to organization of population census?
  3. What are the various problem facing geography educations in schools?

Significance of the Study

Right from its inception in Nigeria in the 1960’s as an academic discipline in the university, geography has demonstrated a governing concern to National development.

The study is significant as it will go a long way to helping the lecturers of geography in solving whatever problems that may arise.

Potential researchers will also find the result useful to them and would serve as stepping stone for future research studies.

Scope of the Study

This study aim art examining the relevance of Geography Education in tertiary institution of learning to National Development.

The emphasis can be trace in large part to deficiencies in the knowledge of geography, which calls for Attention to geography illiteracy. It has been frequent not only from academic and federal government but from business and state government as well. For instance, we as a nation are constantly surprise by world political and economic events. They occur in place we never heard of for reason we do not understand; also we often do not realize the importance of these events in our daily lives. The problem is that geography in this country is frequently taught poorly.

This study is limited to College of Education Ikere – Ekiti in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State. More also the study is on the relevance of geography education in tertiary institutions of learning to National development. The investigation will cover Degree II to Degree IV, likewise N.C.E II to N.C.E II


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