Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's called 'Western Education' today

Sadly, the North continues to be synonymous with religious crises. Sometimes it is called a political upheaval, but recently it’s supposedly about Western education.

As someone once pointed out, the youths encouraged to carry out these horrific deeds are the uneducated ones who have not reaped the benefits of Western education; the people who believe that “the world is flat and rain is not caused by evaporation…”, as The Times of London quotes.

Right now there’s temporary peace, abi, so it’s time for people to vamoose while they still can. In places like Kano, Kaduna, Plateau State, numerous folks have packed their things and relocated to more peaceful(at this time) states. That September 2001 Jos experience really rocked us, but we still weren’t prepared for a repeat… followed by another… and another. It becomes useless for struggling businessmen to pick up the few pieces they have, only for them to be destroyed again & again.

Those who stay behind are to remain vigilant; their lives depend on it. It’s so bad; when folks have finally managed to relax, hell erupts again- and it doesn’t help that it starts in the early morning hours (the last thing on the mind at 2am is fada (fight) -unless you’re having a vision inspired by God or by excess beans in the belly). So the advice to “check if the elderly beggars are still on the streets” is clearly out (this was the advice I was given when schooling in Minna. The theory behind this is that beggars are warned about impending riots).

But I still thank God; I shudder as I realise that for some countries, life is infinitely more uncertain than this. War is a daily reality. Mass burials, decay, no food to stock up on, no place to hide, agony... things I’d rather not dwell on. But while we thank God that our portion is not as heavy, the fact remains that Nigeria is in trouble and we all know what the problems are. It’s how to move from ‘here’ to ‘there’ on the back of a totally lame government that confounds.

Still on somewhat related news…

I get confused sometimes. ‘Why did I stress myself to go to the university again? Erm, so that I could/can get a good job.’ This answer usually pacified me, until I was faced with a class full (kai, school full) of young ladies who were uninterested in schooling. ‘Is it enough for me to say ‘Yan Mata (young ladies) you need to get to Uni too so that you can get a good job’? Not really. I’m sure I could have attached the you-will-become-an-independent-woman tag, but it wasn’t the correct answer to me. In the end I just shut up and focused more on forcing Chemistry down. If only I had come across this article sooner:

“What is the purpose of education?”
By Luke Onyekakeyah, The Guardian Nigeria Newspaper, 4th August 2009.

“…Though the fundamental philosophy [of education] has always been to impart and acquire knowledge through teaching and learning procedures as is done in school or any similar institutions, the purpose of spending time, energy and resources to impart and acquire the knowledge depends on the society’s needs... The Eastern world has a distinct educational system tailored to solve problems in those countries… I discovered that because Japan is an earthquake prone country, their educational system is tailored to handle this problem. School curriculum is designed to produce experts that would effectively tackle society’s problems. Consequently, Japanese engineers, architects, planners, etc are trained to carry out their profession with the country’s problems in mind. Thus, buildings, bridges, highways are designed and built to withstand earthquakes…

[But Nigeria’s]educational system is blindly tailored to the colonial education system [whose target then was to produce clerks, accounts officers, administrators, managers and other white-collar job oriented manpower]. But the colonial education purpose in Africa is no longer relevant. No country in Africa has been able to develop a homemade education system that is tailored to address local development needs. That partly explains why most countries in Africa are retrogressing…

One of the greatest problems facing this country since independence is energy. At the same time, we have in this country abundant solar energy, gas resources, coal, wind and geothermal energy to name a few. We have abundant solid mineral resources that can’t be exploited because the educational system has failed to produce the needed manpower to exploit these minerals…”

Of course, the universities offer the necessary courses- petroleum engineering, geophysics, environmental science, etc but you know now: output is negligible.
His solution: We need an educational revolution. Mercy Ette says she knows that the solution she profers is likely to vex folks, but sha, the educational system can be revamped only when all the institutions are closed down and re-structured. Ahh! I can imagine not only the President’s face, but undergrads’ too. They certainly won’t be doing this:

Well, we hope a revolution will happen on that elusive “one day”.
Till then.