I read an article today that really had a profound effect on me. The story was told of a fifth grader that was once asked to define what it means to be educated. This kid got on her feet, chuckled and defined an educated man as ‘one who never does any work’. As I ponder over the content of the discourse, I came to realize this kid unconsciously embodied in her answer a blatant truth. The article goes further to explain that “the biggest and best part of life lies in supplying yourself the things you need and to be able to earn a living is quite as necessary as getting education. This, in a way emphasizes the need for a curriculum that will embrace earning a living and mental growth and have them move together hand in hand”. He stressed that “the best way to learn to be useful is to be useful. To take a young man from life for some four to six years and send him to college in order to educate him for life that he may thereafter be useful is to run a grave risk that you will not get him back into life”.
As much as I believe education is so vital to development, I also subscribe to the idea of men earning a living while getting the education because it’s like the reason our colleges are constantly graduating incompetent people is our inability to inculcate doing things with talking and formulating theories about them. In a country like ours that pays so much lip service to education, the situation is even a far cry from what obtains in some other parts of the world. Our schools and colleges churn out en masse ‘half baked’ or in some cases ‘unbaked’ graduate year in, year out. These graduate then had to compete for the very few available jobs in the market. As a result of the large turnout, employers had to resort to even in some cases unrealistic standards during recruitment. Some are eventually recruited by whatever means and a larger percentage then left to roam the streets looking for non existing jobs. Their obvious flawed education and inability to direct their energies into useful channels while feeding their expanding minds in schools thus reducing their chances of taking their destinies into their own hands for the man who can weld life and education together is actually the one that has ‘real education’.
I have always argued that the reason why a substantial percentage of the movers and shakers of our world are without college degrees is simply because life, which is greater than college, reviews your theoretical education, quietly ignores them and then test your requisite ability to apply such knowledge to practical issues. This, I guess is life’s way of making us realize that our vicious belief that education is one thing and life is another is null, void and of no effect. There is nothing wonderful about a college professor except perhaps his density in an area of his specialty outside of which he is likely to be very lopsided. This explains why some of these professors are even deemed unfit to hold administrative positions in their respective colleges. Real education entails not just being knowledgeable about specific subjects but also being able to practically adapt such acquired insights to solving life’s unending puzzles.
The Nigerian situation is such a pathetic case in question. Our education is in shambles. School are not conducive for learning. Basic infrastructures, materials and equipments practically non-existent and when they exist, outdated. Our single effort at combining talking, learning and doing thing, the Industrial Training Scheme is grossly inadequate and poorly coordinated. Students spend a huge chunk of the period looking for placement into industries that eventually absorbed them for maybe three or four months and they ended up learning little or nothing at all. Most of these companies, maybe due to the students’ incompetence and/or their trying to cut down on idle time do not even allow students handle their equipments long enough grasp operating and maintenance procedures as the case may be. There is therefore, an urgent need to completely overhaul our system of education. We need to provide infrastructures that will enhance learning, develop curricular that will plug all loopholes in the current ones and then inculcate financial and entrepreneurial/on-the-job training such that our schools will evolve men big enough to captain both education and industry. Providing ‘real education’ where schools’ curricular has work directly in line with education will positively transform our socio-economic national life and consequently place us in an enviable position among the comity of nations.