I want to challenge the erroneously held belief that education is the key to success. The hope in the potentials of education to ‘save’ man is the gravest mistake any one can make.
In simple terms, education is the process of imparting knowledge, skill and judgement.
According to Joseph Arop, “Education is the slight hammer that breaks the yoke of ignorance, and moulds knowledge, skills, ideas, good moral values in a person be it a child, a youth or full grown adult. No matter a persons age learning never stops”.
When you look at Arop’s definition, you would see a long list of the advantages of education. But does that foreclose the dangers inherent in it?
Education wastes time: Education is a time-consuming endeavour. In Nigeria, an individual can spend as much as 20 years in school. Mathematically, he may spend three years in nursery school (apart from creche), six in primary school, another six in secondary school and four (or five or six depending on the course of study) in university.
Before he enters school, he may waste years seeking admission and sitting qualifying exams year in year out.
Just recently, I was reading comments on social media and one person was thanking God because he had, after 10 years, secured admission to study medicine and surgery in a Nigerian university. Add the minimum of six years he would spend in studying the course to his present age, not to talk of one year for housemanship and an additional one for national service if he eventually completes his studies.
If they were intermittent strikes, he may not graduate at the right time. When he eventually passes out, he may stay another year before he is called up for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps, NYSC programme, where he would spend another year.
After the programme, he finds himself in the labour market, where he might spend about 10 years or an eternity looking for a job. If he is lucky and gets a decent job, he would heave a sigh of relief and thank his God. Otherwise, the search continues into his forties (while he is still single) because he would be thirty already by the time he finished national service. However, he may never get his dream job and would earn meagerly till retirement.
If he retires healthy, he may never be paid his beggarly pensions and gratuities (or they would come irregularly, at the whims and caprices of the powers that be) before he is dead or bedridden as a result of bouts of (sometimes curable) illnesses.
Before he dies, he may not have had a personal home, not to talk of a decent one or owning a car, however rickety.
If education were the key to success, when would he enjoy the fruits of his labour?
Education is a waste of money: Education drains finances. The amount of money spent on the education of a child can reasonably be said to be incalculable. Freshers pay as high as N100,000 in tuition fees (in bulk or separately in different nomenclatures) in some federal and state universities in Nigeria. In private universities, they pay as much twice or more the amount. As the students progress, they pay less, same or more in subsequent years, depending on the school authorities and/or government policies.
Then follows the headache of accommodation. In some places, a modest apartment costs not less than N100,000 annually if one lives off campus.
Now comes the issue of handouts. It is optionally compulsory for students to buy usually unedited or poorly edited books (many of which can simply pass as pamphlets) at exorbitant prices in Nigerian universities. Some undergraduates offer as much as 15 courses in a semester of a four-year programme.
Feeding is another aspect that gulps money. The money one spend on feeding alone while in school is enough to make one a millionaire if one saves it up.
If you do not live on campus, you may spend a fortune on transport fares to and from school.
Or have you quickly forgotten the pocket money you would always request or that would usually be given to you for your upkeep?
Sum up these monies and know whether they cannot start a good business. Yet, when you graduate, you will begin to look for about N500,000 business capital that you would never find.
Education does not guarantee employment or a decent one: Upon all these, a graduate may never get a job, however meager the salary might be.
Each year, Nigerian universities churn out thousands of graduates who roam the streets in search of white-collar jobs. Some succeed. Many don’t and the search continues for some 10 years.
Some graduates are frustrated as to take up jobs as security men, cooks, messengers, drivers, salespeople,waiters and waitresses.
From the foregoing, therefore, it is evident that education is NOT the key to success.