The best part of man’s education is that which he gives to himself”—Walter Scott
Nothing can be deadly than turning blind eyes to a critical sector that makes a man! Often times, most of the columnists, social critics, commentators, analysts and writers in the country focused most of their attention on the leadership problems bedeviling the nation, leaving out the sector that determines what entire generations become to fend for its self! It is no longer news that the nation’s standard of education has nosedived, but it has become terribly Mercier than what anybody can imagine today.
Currently in our tertiary institutions, there are two rules at work! The conventional rule which every student is asked to abide by when he or she is admitted to the school, and the “systemic rule” which has being entrenched across our tertiary institutions of learning. This system is what has nearly-destroyed our higher institutions.
When students are leaving their parent’s homes for schools, they leave with strong belief that they would be transformed and adequately equipped to face any of the life’s challenges, especially in a very competitive and highly globalised world of today, where survival depends on adaptability and skills! So, when these students get in to campus, they will have two decisions to make! Either to stick to their principles and maintain their parents advises with its attendant threats and pressures, or to compromise their principles and play along with corrupt system which is anti-thetical to our national aspirations. This system promotes mediocrity over merit. It promotes shadows over substances!
Because we have a policy that was originally intended to promote hard work, discipline, integrity and patriotism by way of rewarding students with certificate on graduation, some money conscious individuals have succeeded in tailoring or attaching some unethical practices to efforts associated with the implementation of such policy. To make point clearer, let me use the most recent example that happened in one of our tertiary institutions, where it was reported that a student who could not donate one of his kidneys to save his dying father, was compelled by irrational academic circumstances to sell one of his kidneys so as to graduate with first class result from one of the nation’s universities. Similar stories are found in most of our tertiary institutions. The practice has become too entrenched that if you want to dare it, then, it must be clear to such fellow that, he or she must graduate with a pitiable result! This is not to say that we don’t have some patriotic individuals in our school system, but, most times, they are few, and in most cases, they are the few voices crying in the wilderness.
What is the need for still depending on the 20th century policies to correct the shortcomings and challenges posed by the 21th century realities? As society advances, relevant policies that suit the realities of the situation at hand should be formulated. Some of the existing policies in our educational system have served the purposes there were intended to address! For example, a man who ended his educational qualification at standard six in those days is more than some graduates of this century. At independence, most of our educational policies were formulated so as to produce manpower that will be the engine or driver of the new nation. But, today, realities have changed, yet, we still depend on some of the faulty policies to take us to the Promised Land. It is like still hoping that a $900 billion GDP projection by the year 2020 can still make us one the 20thlargest economies in the world without knowing that Saudi Arabia with a GDP projection of about $1.2 trillion has pushed us from that ladder!
One of the horrors of the present situation in our tertiary institutions is that when the current crops of professionals running the affairs of the country are gone; Nigeria would not have competent replacements for them. Today, we have the best doctors, engineers, editors, lawyers, journalists, accountants and other professionals who can compete with their contemporaries in any part of the world because the educational policy of their time suits the realities of those days. But today, we have a policy that has no correlation with the realities in our tertiary institutions today. According to reports, our educational system is the third most corrupt sector in the country! This is because of the activities of some administrators and lecturers who impart corruption than they impart knowledge, who plagiarizes people’s works without giving credit them, who have turned academic freedom to academic anarchy, who understands no any other academic language than sorting or brown envelop from people they are quite better than, who have made our tertiary institutions to become the breeding ground of all forms of vices, who use threats and victimization to harass and take undue sexual advantage from our female students.
Because our educational and labour policies have made the acquisition of good certificates “a do or die affairs” with little or no regards to competence, some of the half-baked lecturers with high sounding degrees have turned a sector that is supposed to be rendering selfless services to humanity in to a “black gold” milking students and their parents dry! “Nemo Quad Non Habet”, can the so-sold “brown envelop” lecturers give what they don’t have? Yet, we allow them to remain in the system where they infect sound minds with their academic insanities.
Finally, as it is often said: “Successful men without successors are saboteurs”, the fight to restore dignity and respect to our tertiary institutions should not be viewed as one man’s fight, but, it should be viewed as a fight thrown at all men of goodwill in the nation. If we allow the flame that was handed down to us by our founding fathers to quench in our hands, posterity will never be kind to us!
Comrade Edwin Ekene is an activist and a public affairs commentator. He is also the National President of Young Nigerian for Change.
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