Education, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the action or process of teaching someone, especially in a school, college or university. It further defines education as the knowledge, skill or understanding you get from attending school, college or university.
According to philosopher, Socrates, "Education means the bringing out of the ideas of universal validity which are latent in the mind of every man". It is a conversion of the man; a complete turnaround from the world of appearance to the world of reality, the sole aim being the transfer of knowledge leading to the development of the mind for better living.
Since the introduction of formal education in Nigeria by the colonial masters, schools - in this context- tertiary institutions in the country have continued to churn out hundreds of thousands of graduates annually. Statistical evidence from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (N.B.S) reveals that about 1.8m graduates enter the labour market annually in the country.
However, this massive turnout of graduates across Nigeria has increased the woes of the country instead of bringing in the needed economic revival. As noted by a former minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian graduates are unemployable and thus the high rate of unemployment among graduates has led to a larger percentage of people raising eyebrows as to why parents should "waste" money training a child in a tertiary institution, only for him (child) to end up roaming the streets in search of jobs; dependent on them (parents) for the basic needs of life.
At this point, one begins to ponder on the essence for education, if those who have graced the four walls of the Ivory Towers roam about the streets, looking for jobs after graduation. It thus implies that the educational system in the country is defective and not living up to its billing. Education's main aim is to equip the individual for life, but how can a student who was raised in a school with defective structure compete with his peers across the globe and use his wealth of experience from school to turn around his fortunes?
Most schools in Nigeria run on dilapidated structures, some of them only fit for archival materials in advanced nations of the globe. Students are taught in preparation for the 21st century with a 19th century curriculum, copied or handed down by the British.
The Nigerian school system is deficient in entrepreneurial content which ought to prepare the ground for grooming of entrepreneurs. According to The Director General of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, (NOTAP), an arm of the Science and Technology Ministry, Umar Bindir, "the education system is meant to tailor our young people to be entrepreneurs" but "our school education system...lacks entrepreneurship content".
Thus, the real definition of education as the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn, would have been defeated if our institutions of learning are bereft of the entrepreneurial flavour which will better position them for the future.
Furthermore, we must unlearn some outdated ways of acquiring knowledge and tap into the reality on ground. It will do no harm if players in diverse industries are consulted and liaised with so as to develop robust curricula in line with industry needs. It is pertinent to note that in spite of the emerging new information platforms/technologies, schools in Nigeria are yet to fully map out courses that can position graduates to key into the latent opportunities that such modern technologies bring with them.
I would for the sake of analogy quote Paul Brennan, Vice President of International Partnerships of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges who noted that in order to bridge the gap between academic institutions and employers in the Canadian system, all institutes and programmes are mandated to work closely with employers to help them develop and constantly adjust the content of their programmes.
“Our deans and faculty must meet with an advisory committee of employers twice a year to discuss emerging needs for jobs in the Canadian and global marketplace and what improvements to the curriculum need to be made so that it better prepares our learners to find jobs and keep them,” Brennan said. What this implies is that as graduates, the knowledge people get from schools should be adequate for them to become creators of job opportunities.
What we get from the school system is mostly out of sync with the reality on ground. The teaching methods usually take a theoretical format with simple ideas which would have been hitherto taught using local examples, coming as mysteries which require some esoteric powers to comprehend.
Although over the years, succeeding governments have mapped several programmes, notably the Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) and the Youth Enterprise with Innovation (YOU-WIN) in reaction to the looming gap created by the defective educational contents of the country; it is instructive to mention that such efforts have not effectively addressed the problem.
It is high time we began to reorient ourselves that passing through the four walls of tertiary institutions, without being attuned to the realities of modern day life, is only but a surefire way of ending up with dashed hopes. A situation where priority is accorded to university education alone, does not portray a good attempt at equipping graduates, especially those who are technically oriented, with prerequisite skills to face life. It is not everyone that is academically oriented and therefore, specialized, technical schools should be given utmost interest, after all, as Darwin said “It is not the most intelligent or the strongest species that survives but the one that is RESPONSIVE TO CHANGE".
Emmanuel Egobiambu is a corps member and writes from Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti state.
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