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Nigeria’s Failing Education—Who Stole The Meat… By Prince Charles Dickson

I know the biggest crime is just to throw up your hands and say "This has nothing to do with me, I just want to live as comfortably as I can." ~ Ani DiFranco.

I know the biggest crime is just to throw up your hands and say "This has nothing to do with me, I just want to live as comfortably as I can." ~ Ani DiFranco.

I am a man of simple faith. I do not care so much about definitions. When I see that something works I say so, when it does not work I also say so. I stand on the side of truth. Although these days, the truth is equally part of the problem...
 Last week at the 15th Convocation and Investiture of new fellows for the Nigeria Academy of Letters, held at the University of Lagos, it was speeches, professors, academics, researchers, lettered men/women and white hairs everywhere, the verdict was nothing new—Summary: Nigeria was in trouble, the picture was bleak, we were under-developing, we had lost our past glory, and the raison d’etre was “education”.

This is the umpteenth time I am writing on the nation’s educational decay. In the next few paragraphs of this admonition, I would make some pertinent points/rants. The issues have been clothed with full bloated AIDS--primary/tertiary education: NUT/ASUU-P/NASU, teacher quality, JAMB/WAEC: admissions, strikes, tuition, infrastructure, sex for marks, plagiarism--an endless list.  

First and very quickly I find it very unbelievable for all the intelligence, the ingenuity and you name it, after some 30 years the best ASUU can do is strikes, the argument that all the FG listens to is strike—strikes me as lame, But I will leave that for another day.

With almost a 150 universities plus institutions of degree equivalent awarding status all producing graduates every year. The statistics of jobless graduates is all too staggering. Need I add the quality of the graduates remains another matter?
We have a system that places plenty of emphasis on “come to the interview with your certificate.” So the desire to acquire these colorful, ribbon crested paper called certificate continues to contribute in large proportions to the bastardizing of the whole system.

Quiet amusing that graduates of universities of Agriculture in Benue, Abia, Ogun, and so on would be walking the streets looking for job when we have available land for farming. Agricultural science is a theoretical subject and schools do not even have farms no more, Universities of Agriculture take more students for law than Agricultural Extension courses.
We are there acquiring all manners of certificates from, MBA, PDP to APC, yet a man who emerges from the university as a chemical engineer is looking for a job, when we need several thousand chemists or is it Business Administrators to go into the Ogogoro or Sapele water market (local gin) and give it a semblance of respect through proper distilling and packaging. Our education lacks orientation, a mind orientation, instead we are saddled with graduates with the odious idea that to get a job you must hold a certificate.

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Today what is the value of the education given to a young man who is doing his mandatory service year or lives in a guinea worm infested area and yet is incapable of causing a revolution in the lives of the villagers by transforming their drinking water into healthy supply?

Please what is the use of education given in physics to a young girl when the lights go out, she does not know what to do to get light again. I know a Nigerian who added a Boys Scout Merit Certificate as part of his educational certificates…

What we have today, in spite of innovations and the bold attempts to re-orientate it, remains, orthodox, slow foot, and myopic. The current ASUU strike holds no solution to the numerous problems.

Our once sharpened the head to near pin end quality educational pride is fading and even this was famed for making the possessors limb atrophied by long disuse.
Today how many young persons want to go home and at the beginning of the year cut the bush in readiness for the new year's planting; all the values kids see are big cars, big mansions and reality shows, add the football leagues of Europe.

The ASUU strike action will soon be over, the nation's tertiary institutions have been closed for two months, and they will 'just' resume like nothing happened, students go back to lectures like a rainbow that appeared without rain. In some schools, exams would be conducted in the following weeks. All really like nothing happened!

Our system has been abused, misused, disused and left in a state of disrepair. Show me a leader, a politician with so called popular mandate and I will show you an Oga at the top’s wife with her own private Montessori and international schools with fees from the outrightly outrageous to the unbelievably murderous, and off course they patronize themselves. It seems but a fact that the act is intentional, because you educate the children of today and you guaranty a future for tomorrow. But the reverse is the case; they educate their kids, by all means necessary and guaranty a future, a continuous oligarchy of crooks.
The technical and crafts schools have been bastardized, degraded and left in a coma, with little or no hope of regaining life.  
We are a nation of largely intelligent illiterates so we do not bother about statistics, we have scholars who have built reputation for 'xeroxing' texts of others word for word as handout on a ‘buy and pass basis’, that is when the teacher is not a Mr. Lecturer insisting that Bimbo must go the whole length of her skirt to pass. We smile at the number of school dropouts; we feign ignorance at the number of school age children that are not in school. We are ignorant of the rate at which some of our institutions produce pirated literate, unproductive literate and in many cases full illiterates.
Government at the center is confused, one minute it is 6-3-3-4 system, now its 9-3-4, for uniabuja were medicine is about ten years its 9-3-16.
In my daily routine with Newspapers I am beseeched with adverts from schools offering 'better?' education, from Uganda to Belize to Ukraine.
I can say that tomorrow, certainly is bleak; we don’t know who stole the meat from the cooking pot, so let the stealing continue. A nation where anything will always go—will this be the last ASUU strike, only time will tell.


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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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