BURNING POT BY PRINCE CHARLES DICKSON, PH.D.
Our Isi Ewu Education and ‘zations
Ani DiFranco, said 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.
For me 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 has equally become part of the problem.
Some four years ago I wrote under the title "Nigeria’s Failing Education—Who Stole The Meat" again I am reinforcing the issues I raised then because they are not only still there, but have got worse.
So we have just dissipated much energy on the conversation of Christian/ Islamic Religious Knowledge popularly referred to as IRK and CRK. It again brought to the fore the Islamization narrative and the Christianization phobia. Everyone threw and flexed weights; there were denials, counter denials and after the long missionary journey the FG and National Assembly made proclamations.
The noise that attended the entire episode was less a penny that which was witnessed the removal of History as a subject of study. It got me thinking what really is our drive, like a local musician put it "who these studies epp". If the anomalies of our isi-ewu education were about these two subjects then we would have been rejoicing uhuru.
The issues have been clothed with full bloated AIDS--primary/tertiary education, foreign education: NUT/ASUU-P/NASU, teacher quality, JAMB/WAEC: admissions, strikes, tuition, infrastructure, sex for marks, plagiarism--an endless list.
With LAUTECH on my mind 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 150 universities plus institutions of degree equivalent 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, if only it was about C/IRK?
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. And we add the CRK and IRK certificates.
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 now a theoretical subject and schools do not even have farms, Universities of Agriculture take more students for law than Agricultural Extension courses. And we bicker about being Islamized and yet we remain a den of crooks.
We are there acquiring all manners of certificates from Bsc, 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.
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…so are you surprised that C/IRK is part of our problem.
What we have today, in spite of innovations and the bold attempts to re-orientate it, remains, orthodox, slow foot, and myopic as a curriculum.
Our once sharpened head to near pin end quality educational pride is fading and even this was famed for making the possessors limb atrophied by long disuse.
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 out rightly outrageous to the unbelievably murderous, and off course they patronize themselves. For a fact 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, and we are fighting 'zations.
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.
My conclusion is in this story; an alcoholic father raised two twin boys. One grew up to be an alcoholic and when asked what happened he said, ”I watched my father”.
The other grew up and never drank in his life. When he was asked what happened he said, “I watched my father”.
But it didn't have to end the same way. The other son chose a different path. You and I can be just like that.
Nigeria's problem is not in taught religiosity or spirituality but in imbibed faith on right and wrong in shared humanity.
We are all role models. Like it or not, other people look at how we behave and model their lives after us. John Wooden, the great basketball coach, wrote a wonderful poem that goes like this:
A careful man I want to be,
A little fellow follows me;
I do not dare to go astray,
For fear he’ll go the self-same way.
It’s something that we need to keep in mind for all the people we care about and influence. We can learn from others. It’s much better to learn a lesson from someone else’s experience than to have to experience it.
We all have the power to choose. We don’t always get to choose what happens to us or around us, but we can choose how we respond. We can’t control the circumstances, but we have total and complete control over our reaction.
These two sons started in the same place, with the same circumstances. However, they chose completely different paths as a result of their situation. Nigeria is faced with choices, tough ones but at every turn it seems that we are for unexplainable reasons choose the path of isi-ewu and plenty alcohol and no sense; for how long—Only time will tell.