By Sulaiman Maijama’a
If there is any country on earth where education is as worthless as a waste dump, derided and treated with disdain, Nigeria is the perfect example. It has been 271 days since the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked upon industrial action, owing to some grievances yet untreated for over a decade. The president, whose all children studied in the most expensive Universities in the UK is, unfortunately, sitting comfortably in the Presidential Villa, the Minister of Education, Mal. Adamu Adamu, who was in the past a critic of the lackadaisical approach towards education of previous administration, is equally seating comfortably in Abuja, while the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Christ Ngige keeps on making fake promises to the striking ASUU members, thereby, leading to delicate agreements that breaks-down on annual basis. How on earth could this be happening in a country that is aspiring for greatness?
The prospect of every society actualizing its lofty dream of attaining greatness, relies solely on the level and quality of education it provides to its people, especially the young generation. Nigeria is blessed with academically ambitious people who if an enabling environment is provided for them, surely, they will rise and shine like a flickering TV screen at the global scene. However, the show of no interest about education by our leaders is killing their zeal and hiding our golden fish in the darkest of dungeons. This is indisputably frightening and discouraging!
“Collapsing any nation does not require use of atomic bombs or the use of long range missiles. But it requires lowering the quality of Education . . .” is what is boldly written at the entrance gate of a University in South Africa. This is exactly the greatest threat Nigeria is facing. With all the natural and mineral resources Nigeria is proud to have; the crude oil, this and that, if education continues to be neglected and taken for granted like it is now, I envisage a poor nation, with poor infrastructure, poor leadership, poor health condition and terribly uncertain security situation.
For Nigeria to revive its former version, a memory tour must be taking into the glorious days of the likes of Malam Sa’adu Zungur, Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, and Sir Ahamadu Bello, who invested so much in education, and who out of their love and patriotism for the education of their people refused to accept the Nigeria’s independence, until the time they were comfortable that their people had relevant and requisite qualification and literacy, which they could be given opportunity to rule. This among other antecedents bespeak nothing but the enormity of their love for education and the educated society they envisioned.
During the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, suggested that Canadians’ education was the nation’s greatest resource.
“We need education to enable people to learn, think, and adapt,” he said. “Our natural resources are important, and they always will be. But Canadians know that what it takes to grow and prosper isn’t just what’s under our feet, it’s what between our ears.”
Today Canada tops the list of the most educated countries in the world. According to the OECD over 56 percent of adults in the Great White North have earned some kind of education after high school. Do you think it’s an overnight miracle that just happened, without dogged determination by their leaders?
NO this was/is only actualised by dint of hard work, perseverance, commitment and huge investment in the sector. And I see this as nothing but a pay-off to the aforementioned!
Canada is followed by highly educated countries like Japan, Israel and Korea. The United States ranked sixth on the OECD’s list. According to the OECD, 45.7 percent of American adults between the ages of 25 and 64 have completed some kind of tertiary education in the form of a two-year degree, four-year degree or vocational program. The U.S. Census estimates that about 33 percent of American adults possess a bachelor’s degree or more. Is Nigeria ready?
In Nigeria today, to graduate a four-year or five-year degree programme within the stipulated time, is impossible. This is mainly because of the incessant strike that is becoming an obstacle to the journey. If one sets his/her feet into a University, the graduation year is uncertain, only God knows. Universities across the country have been closed for nine months, a whole academic year is wasted. Those who would have graduated are still in the system plagued by unadulterated pain, others who intend to make a carrier in business or other endeavors are delayed, some who are waiting for graduation to settle and start a family are equally delayed. Is Nigeria ready?
Unless Nigeria begins to understand and appreciate the value and power of education, our challenges will keep deteriorating by the day; the dream we have will continue to be a mirage till eternity and the insecurity challenge threatening the fabric of our social structure can hardly be contained. Nobody who is educated will, in all conscience, avail themselves to be brainwashed and given a weapon to kill innocent citizens arbitrarily.
The greatest weapon to every developed society in the whole world is sound education. The remedy to dozens of our problems, therefore, is rebuilding a robust educational structure that we take for granted here. Developed countries have since keyed into that. We must also adapt to the challenges and the changing realities of the system. The world will not wait for Nigeria!
Maijama’a is of the Faculty of Communication, BUK, Kano.
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