My Perspective On The Phrase, “SCHOOL NA SCAM” __By KALATIUM
If you’re a student in Nigeria, then you must have heard the controversial mantra ” School Na Scam” parading itself in arguably every tertiary and secondary institution across the country.
The ardent bearers of this slang believe and profess, in a metaphorical way, that tertiary institutions are equivalent to scam, that these tertiary institutions only extort from us and only offer in return what will prove to be of no relevance at the end. Although it is not that they propose education has a scam but rather school is scam.
But how true can this be? Has school become a genuine metaphor for scam? While I feel inclined to give a quick, direct response to these two questions, especially the second, it is better to first dig deep and explore the reason for the assertion.
I want to address the issues responsible for this ideological shift among our youths. While not endorsing the idea that school/education is a total scam, let us examine the issues that have necessitated such a mindset. First, our society has over the years degenerated in terms of morals and values, celebrating those who make money by all means.
The educated ones are ignored while illiterates and semi-literates parade the corridors of our social fabric and politics, legislating and enforcing a fetid moral code for the populace. Many of them have taken to menial duties to survive.
All the lectures, assignments, projects, fieldwork, and thesis they wrote amount to nothing since they eventually revert to menial jobs, suffocating the space for those who never went to school.
We have a lot of youths who try as much as possible to go to school but the irony is that after school they have nothing to show for their tireless effort in school.
While Growing up, i use to hear stories of how immediately one left the university, the government had a well-paying job and a vehicle waiting for him or her. Well, that was decades ago, right now the state of the Nigerian educational system is so decayed, recovery would be a miracle.
In those days, education paid off. I heard that school certificate holders got jobs automatically while university graduates were demigods. Now Graduates are disappointed and feel undervalued. However, the winner of Big Brother Nigeria, a reality TV show of about 2 months gets much more money than all the best graduating students of a Nigerian University combined who spent (5+xyears) studying in the university.
Welcome to Nigeria where your destiny is changed. Someone study chemical engineering and end up being a teacher. Someone reads economics and now a bus driver.
When you go to school your lecturers will sugarcoat you with all sort of promises to make you believe school is the solution to all problem that education is the key to success.
They will even assure you will get a job. It is after one graduates that they face reality of life .
I have seen where graduates struggle to get internship which is just for a yet i wonder how it will be when they look for job.
It can be argued that schools give individuals the option of security i.e. getting a white collar job (a 9 – 5), but there are millions of people in this country with good degree without a job( About 80% of graduates are without jobs). I dare say then, that, schooling makes you employable and not employed.
All the individuals whose opinion i sought attested to the fact that the present formal institution (school) doesn’t prepare individuals for the reality of life.
Nevertheless, Job employment today is as a result of Nepotism rather than meritocracy due to our nation’s state of kakistocracy.
Ever since Nigeria discovered oil, the majority of the government’s focus has been turned towards the discovery, refining and production of crude oil, leading to huge neglect or underwhelming of other important government parastatals.
The lack of funding has led to the hiring of undercooked teachers who are willing to take the peanuts government can pay, thus leading to the universities producing undercooked students year after year; the result, a vicious circle of incompetence and rot.
It not uncommon for one to spend five, six years in school for a four-year degree programme due to the incessant internal and external strike actions. The persistence of strikes persuaded many Nigerian students to seek formal education abroad, not only in America and Europe but also in neighbouring countries in Africa. Anywhere but Nigeria, at least you were guaranteed an uninterrupted schedule.
When two elephants fight, the ground suffers. Whenever ASUU goes on strike it the students that suffers. ASUU claims they are going on strike for the benefits of students. However, we are the ones being affected by strike not the federal Government Even in the midst of COVID-19 ASUU is planning on further keeping the students at home even after they have languished at home for six months (almost an academic session)
AN ANTIQUATED CURRICULUM
Our curriculums are not evolving with the requirements of the labour market in the 21st century. Students are not directly trained for the labour market.
Lecturers and tutors in many institutions still use old handouts and lecture materials, once a student try to update, he will be failed.
I heard a story of a first-class Nigerian student who travelled abroad to further his education but was told to restart again because his education was not up to par.
There is also a story of a Nigerian who went to seek a job abroad, but the job was given to someone else even though he was better qualified for the job. His employers advised him to take a lesser role in the company while he brushed up his education. His experience supported a hunch that employers were wary of employing Nigerians because they felt Nigerian graduates lacked proper education.
POOR TEACHING METHODS
Students should be taught not only theory but also practical. I mean, it is only in Nigeria you would find an engineering graduate who has never had to take apart a machine talk more of building one, a Mass Communication/broadcast student who has never stepped into a studio or a printing press. Theories are good and fine, but it becomes a total waste if you cannot put them into practice in everyday life.
A lot students have been in school for a few years and they have nothing to show for it. They cannot remember what they were taught in their year 1 neither do they have the professional skills to back up their course of study.
The Nigerian curriculum needs a massive facelift, such that PhD holders can rub shoulders with their counterparts the world over. We need a more pragmatic approach in school instead of the rote method of teaching.
A typical student after spending 4-5 years in school and finally graduates, will still be train by the industry before being employed full time. The school doesn’t give the necessary skills we need after school (in the industry).
It is no wonder students forget what they learned in school. As a Science student, you are not being taught practicals and you are expected to be academically complete.
I have seen where a lot of our lecturers are not serious. Some of them don’t lecture on time until a month to exam them they start rushing students, when students fail they are seen as unserious.
80% of what we learn in school is not what we apply outside and 80%of what we apply outside school is not taught in school.
We are not pragmatic in our teaching at all. Our school system exalt cramming. No wonder students don’t remember what they learned the last semester.
LACK OF GRADUATE EMPOWERMENT
Our graduates are not empowered to succeed independently or through government assistance. Therefore it seems like a scam when youths go through the rigour to acquire education, pay all the fees, and finally return to square one.
It is more painful because our society does not celebrate educational achievements.
While the winner of a beauty pageant is rewarded with millions of naira, a trip around the world, and a brand new car, a first-class graduate is rewarded with a paltry N50,000. In some cases, nothing is given except a hand-shake from the Vice-Chancellor. Some lawmakers, governors, and high-ranking public officers who occupy leadership positions are either half-educated or bought their degrees from obscure European universities.
I have seen university graduates ride keke tricycles, okada, and uber. In Nigeria, survival has become a challenging reality for young graduates in the face of government’s insensitivity.
Our society does not care or respect education, they care and respect money no matter how it is acquired. We venerate positions, titles, and inchoate accolades as long as money is attached to them.
If nothing is done generation unborn will continue to see school as scam.
The way school celebrates first class students one will think they will always be the best in life. But after school, reality sets it.
Is the formal institution a prerequisite for success given the great number of witnesses like Mr. Maduka Cosmos?
Mr. Maduka Cosmos dropped out of school to become an apprentice where he learnt fundamental business skills and later became the founder of Coscharis Group; the sole distributor for BMW and Ford cars in Nigeria and most of West Africa. Also, Mr. Vincent Obianodo, a renowned vulcanizer in the Northern part of Nigeria, founded The Young Shall Grow Motors)
Zuckerberg and Gates are school dropouts, yet one invented the world’s most popular social media app and the other is the founder of Microsoft.
Nevertheless, we have PhD holders who do not have a working thesis, who only garner degrees, and make fancy, generic speeches pieced together from articles found on Google, in front of a lacklustre crowd gathered in some fancy air-conditioned hall.
Did Bill Gates have any certificate to become the richest man in the world? No. He dropped out of school.
Did Richard Branson have Masters to become the richest man in the Uk? No. He did not even finish High School.
Thomas Edison spent just about 3 months in school but he became the world’s most famous inventor.
Wright Brothers didn’t finish High School but they invented the Airplane.
Although dangote has a BSC but his schooling was not his secret to being the most richest black man but rather from his family’s legacy.
It is results like this that makes students /graduate feel intimidated, especially if their friends who didn’t attend any higher institution are already buying the latest cars in town. While they see their selves in school wasting their time and not getting anything from school.
Some are beginning to see that schools are not the only medium of learning available in this part of the world especially with the emerging trends, such as home tutoring, professional trainings, internships, learning on YouTube, e-learning and reading books.
So is school a scam? Not really . However, there are alot of shortcomings that need to be addressed to create a paradigm shift in students/
What then is the solution to this menace? Should school be scrapped or reformed? As one of my engagements opined, if a system isn’t working, the solution is not in the development of another system but the restructuring of the former system because chances are the reason behind the failure of the first system hasn’t been discovered yet.
Changing the current state of education would require an entirely different strategy. One that is definitely beyond the government especially if we hope to see any tangible change shortly.
I believe the first step in improving education in the country should begin with a revamp of the school curriculum in every phase of education. By this, I mean primary through the university levels
However, not everyone desires a university degree or even wants to be employed, some would rather be in business. They prefer learning and developing a skill and then starting a company around it. Hence, they should rather be encouraged to go to a skill acquisition centre.
In this generation, individuals should be given the free will to choose to either get a degree or learn and develop skills. What’s the use of a university degree if you’re unemployed? The country needs to produce individuals who will provide jobs both in the formal and informal sector. Schools are not the primary or should not be the sole medium of Education. Let’s encourage diversity.
Let us not live in self-denial, if our society does not change its materialistic mindset, contemporary youths and generations yet unborn will continue to see education as a scam.