The Nigerian Graduate: Literate, But Not Educated, By Farid Labaran
The greatest disservice that our educational institutions have been doing is making literates believe they are educated.
When one goes to school, he does so with the firm understanding that he needs to learn i.e. he is aware of his intellectual bankruptcy. This is similar to the case of a person who knows not and knows that he knows not. This is good. However, upon completion of a 4,5 or 6 year programme at the tertiary institution and presented with a piece of paper called a certificate, he becomes pompous and begins to move with an air of authority, pride and arrogance believing himself to be superior to other members of the society. In fact, in his myopism and ignorance he feels qualified and entitled to air his thought on any and every occurrence in the society and even believes his opinion in some instances to be the only valid one and that nobody is entitled to hold any contrary view. This is clearly worse because it depicts the situation of a person who knows not but knows not that he knows not because he has been made to believe that he knows by virtue of a silly piece of a paper he has been awarded.
To better understand this point, one only needs to visit any social platform and peruse posts or comments of some of the graduates on any issue say politics or religion and see how empty, incoherent, lame and shallow the comments or posts are. Some malign and insult in an immoral, unethical and sinful way while responding to a dissenting view or criticism. One will be convinced that those posts lack depth, clarity, comprehension and some are confusing and leave one in no doubt as to how confused the author is. It is sad but true that some arrive at the University with some level of education only to be confused, robbed and then graduate with less than they came with. This is the state of a typical Nigerian graduate.
The root cause is not farfetched when one observes closely the substance being taught, the style as well as the methodology and the grading system of our Universities.
Innovation, creativity, thinking outside the box etc are stifled rather than encouraged. Students are not taught to think critically, solve problems and how to handle difference of opinion rather they are taught to read, assimilate, and write examinations and go with grades. Certain lecturers expect their students to give back as they were given as it is popularly called ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’
I can vividly recall a computer course I was made to offer in 300Level. The course was all theoretical and devoid of any practicality. I and my fellow colleagues did not cease to engage in tete-a-tete on the immediate and remote relevance of the course to law students. If anything, it is a non law course, irrelevant to present challenges, promotes time wastage which in turn results in frustration and anger leading to poor performance and disinterest. This is not in any way limited to law, it is a general problem in almost all courses wherein students are made to contend with courses that are abstract in content and would not enhance or broaden their scope and perspective and which have no direct bearing to the discipline they are running.
Another major challenge is the absence of a reading culture in the society. Nigerians don’t like reading. It is a bad situation indeed. A saying goes that one who can read but does not read has no advantage over one who cannot read. As it were, reading grows the mind by making it mature intellectually, morally, spiritually and ethically. Reading can seriously damage one’s illiteracy, broaden his horizon and sharpen his intellect.
Advanced societies have since realized that examination is not the most effective and most efficient way of testing education or intelligence of a student and have thus moved away to other more proficient ways that would assist in developing critical reasoning: What benefits do our research, thesis, dissertation submitted by our graduate have on our economy, society?
In conclusion, the process of education is a lifetime event, it is unending. It involves continuous and never ending research, reading, constructive discussions on various platforms. And one should not think that education and learning start and end within the four walls of a classroom or a theatre. No! It doesn’t stop there. This is so because knowledge is like a deep sea, its length, breadth and depth can never be exhausted. Moreover, the system of education as it is, requires total overhaul or reformation to bring it to standard in order to meet our diverse societal challenges. Education does not start nor does it end with mere certificates. Numerous personalities have existed that had never attended formal educational settings and had no certificates or attended and dropped out but have excelled in their various fields. Prominent examples include but are not limited to Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, Shaykh Nasriddeen al-Albani in Islamic exegesis, Bill Gates and Zuckerberg in the technological world to mention but a few. An educated person should possess characteristics which ought to distinguish him/her from others and they include but not limited to Tolerance, Humility, Gentility, Flexibility, Humanity and Patience. Their absence points to the fact that irrespective of one’s class of degree, he is simply an uneducated literate.
Farid S. Labaran Esq.
Facebook: Farid Labaran