“Education is a bridge between hope and misery” Kofi Annan said. If there will ever be a fulfilled voice in life, education must be meticulously inscribed into such soul, so one can’t but be sad at the current trend of events within our people and the prevalent and continuous decadence of education in the world today, Africa most especially. Taking Nigeria as a case study may be too opinionated but it’s where we thrive and blossom.
Take away the days of Obafemi Awolowo’s free education and you’ll have nothing but a continuous deprivation of quality in the Nigerian educational system. Funding and corruption have been its biggest letdowns and coupled with a populace whose interest in education is gradually waning, our education’s best bet must be rejuvenation and a wholesale change in the system. The masses in Nigeria today are so massive that anything called hope may be too tall an order for them. They keep believing and high on expectations till the realities of life take centre stage.
There were days when education was cheap in Nigeria, the youths could have a reason to be happy, the rich could be filled with hope for a much bigger future and all was buoyant. Recently, South African students went into the streets to voice out their displeasures about hikes in their school fees, a phenomenon which as poor as it seems, is a normal thing in Africa. We see a very bizarre decline that cut across all spheres and our once very healthy educational sector is begging for cures. Lack of a consistent plan and package has really let the sector down, every Minister have their own way of doing things and come with their blueprints and that’s menacing to the system. I hear elders talk of days when they’d leave their hostels for class only to be back to see their beds laid and food available. That was a time when education was deemed fun! The feeling amongst the youths of today is that of “those that are in school, what have they achieved?!” A feeling of an apprehension of belief in a non thriving system. A feeling of angst against the system.
In Nigeria today, there are over 10.5m kids out of school, a number that belies the actual face value of the situation and it’s absolutely sardonic, deplorable at worst. Primary education is almost as important as tertiary education because that’s the basis of the basics. That’s where some lifelong things are taught and that’s where we have failed a generation. That the Federal Government promised to feed primary school pupils may not be enough, to get more kids in school and offer children a lifeline to a greater future is much more important. Education is a very long bridge definitely but one which every individual would walk with their hands held high if the future looks promising.
Recently, there was a convocation ceremony at my university and over 6500 students graduated, the question I asked was, where will these people be in two years time? The presence of more unemployed Nigerians daily is a very heavy weight on the government and that’s where educating people to be self dependent comes in. We teach little or nothing in our schools. Lecturers aren’t ready to work and students don’t fare better. All are to a lack of belief in that failed system. Truth be told, the days when Ishiaku leaves school and gets a job immediately are over. If your connection is not better than Telkom’s today, you will struggle to have a job. The rich kids have a future and the poor work hard but in situations that hard work seem too unpromising, to most Nigerians, crime has taken its place. If the crime rate in the nation must hit the rocks, there must be a total revitalisation and renaissance of a dead way to life, renaissance of education! As badly as things have gone, the belief in education is still appreciable, as a bridge between misery and hope, but week call on the appropriate bodies to make education to our children a right, and not a privilege as it has been, if not, we would keep having landmark covenants that will ring bells only to the rich because the poor can’t afford such covenants to redeem their sinking futures. Education must not be based on connections(financial or political) but on intellectual connections with wisdom and that only, can make the nation a better place to live in!
Education must be a strong bridge between misery and hope, not a privilege to the poor and a forced obligation to the rich. Things must start changing if that change will ever come.