By Segun Ige
“Thanks to quality education, Israel is one of the most advanced countries in the world… Israel is advancing in high-tech even more than other developed countries in the world” – Bill Gates
On December 3, 2019, I was particularly fascinated by the editorial paper of the Guardian: “Quality education for economic growth”. Why? By and large, it was because I am a Millennium Fellow, University of Lagos Campus Cohort, 2019. What immediately got me engrossed was the phrase quality education. Secondly, and far more importantly, I was enmeshed because my Sustainable Development Goal is Quality Education – simply put, “SDG-4: Quality Education”.
Yes, as I was saying, I was not so taken aback by the editorial stance of the Guardian regarding the phenomenology of quality education. To be sure, there abound discourses ranging from contradictions-to-conundrums definitional inexactitude of the economically serving architecture of quality education. I think I quite support the editorial stance of that said newspaper, which states: “We will continue to invest substantially in education and government has not relented in its efforts to ensure that education is used to fast-track Nigeria’s transition to modern society” – which is like other ‘deep-fakes’.
The Guardian claims that statement was made by Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, the National Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the 2019 convocation ceremony of the University of Ibadan (UI). Here in Nigeria, we have people of erudition and scholarly accreditation and reputation that even a few in Diaspora are not only acknowledged of their prowess and creative power, but also that their ingenuity and alacrity to provide answers to solution-demanding situations and circumstances are being affirmed and appropriated by ‘brain-tappers’. And so Nigeria REMAINS ECONOMICALLY FAMISHED AND DESTITUTE OF SUSTAINING GROWTH, all because there is no “quality education”.
Think about it: I went to a particular school to achieve my Sustainable Development Goal, in Lagos, and I was rejected and spewed out because “They have been told not to tolerate any thing that has to do with videos and pictures”. Sadly, most of those teachers are not even educated, considerably, to the point of appreciating the Fellows – indeed with one goal or another – who have been trained and tutored to effectively and opportunistically carry out their socially-informed academic outreaches.
Here we are, taking about quality education for sustainable economic growth. In my article, published in TheCable, entitled: “Business and accountable governance in Nigeria: The obligations of leadership”, I lament how (under-) graduates have been blinded by yet another kind of “SSCE”, “NECO”, and so on. By the way, I’m not surprised that Pastor Oyakhilome’s submission that “the Nigerian educational system would make you poor” becomes apt, economically speaking. I then began to apply my heart to wisdom: I thought of the fruitless years one would spend in school; the deception one had been driven into by societal constitution – that needs recalibration; the gross imbalance of graduates trooping out of these universities and trashed away by “economy that needs to be employed”; and so on.
What is embedded in quality education is development and sporadic economic definition. The backbone of nation-building is to invest in quality education. It’s not the kind of education that yearly or annually produces “5-Pointers” and yet there is no infallible proof of their readability and learnability. Nowadays, students are increasingly substituting “hustling” for “reading”. You know why? It’s because they know that the Nigerian educational system is not worth maximum and utmost consecration. What do they do then? They hustle, make some money, and when it’s time for exams, they take off some month and begin to study and read like “mad” men and women. Ultimately this kind of students graduates with “5.0” without being fully persuaded of their certification and conviction.
Can you imagine: That our universities are beginning to produce “best graduates in the world” without environmentally adequate and properly conditioned facilities that would make these students show their incontestable potentials over the years? Shaming and abashing, isn’t it – that “overall best students” here in Nigeria cannot even compete with “under-best students” over there? Little wonder, then, that we are on the verge of economic dearth: stationary economy!
We know the truth, but the truth does set us free from the incarceration of stunted economic growth in Nigeria and, in fact, its reincarnation. We cry: we be not born of economic predicament since Nigerian solely depends on oil production. That’s why employers yearn and churn so-called “5.0” graduates away. What will be the lots of “4-Pointers”, or even “3-Pointers”, if the “5-Pointers” could scarcely be saved? Notably, wise students who hustle hard and diligently enroll for international tests or exams that would give them some edge over those whose singular achievement would have just been an “un-hard” cover certificate that is no more than their SSCE – STAND OUT AND LAUGH LAST.
This is the “joy of motherhood”. The joy of motherhood is beyond sending a child to anyhow school. The joy of motherhood is having a child who works and walks in line with the demands of the country. Such a child does know the applicability of “the survival of the fittest” principle and daily and devotedly ensure that he/she earnestly contends for dear life. He/she separates from students who have been in the tutelage of “go to school; get your certificate; go and serve; hustle; do your Masters”. What a pity, isn’t it? The hustling these students ought to have wholeheartedly committed themselves is what they begin to engage themselves after years of delusion and ignorance. And yet those who have foresight and walk in a plain path of success have Mastered their minds, and fortified their inner men, simply because they have conscientiously given themselves to quality education that sustains economic growth in Nigeria.
Segun Ige (Public-affairs journalist, University of Lagos, Nigeria)