It was in my 4th year in the university, the year was 2009 and I was probably rounding off the necessary documentations with my department officials before departing for the mandatory Students Industrial Work experience scheme (SIWES) which will serve as my second semester workload in the faculty of engineering.
Walking down the road, along with a friend and discussing about the prospects of spending 6 months outside our school and the fact that by the turn of the year when we come back to a 5th year of study, that most of our non engineering mates must have graduated.
But the exciting feeling and enthusiasm for being out alone in a work environment, testing theories we have studied in class for four years, sampling different types of reactors; fiddling with control valves and witnessing the laws and principles of thermodynamics and its operation in industrial engineering, will not let me dwell on filial attachments for long.
Just ahead of us, a set of clattering and chattering students were coming in the opposite direction, “Freshers”, you can spot them miles away; schoolbags, dressing, moving in clusters and their lit-up eyes, all excited for having escaped being regular “jambites”.
Obviously, this group was coming from a lecture hall perplexed either by the largeness of the lecture hall or by the teaching they must have received.
“Why is economics all about money? And why do we have to make money?” one asked aloud.
“Why can’t the bank print more money?” she continued, “and since our lecturer knows so much, why can’t the president let him run the economy of the country?”
I looked at the deep thinking young lady and for a moment I thought what could be possible if she continues to develop her obvious critical reasoning abilities but by then I have heard enough to focus on my own activities.
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Over a decade has passed now since that sunlit afternoon in my alma mater but time and again I go back to the words of that young lady and wonder, does her lecturer know so much?
Do these lecturers even know enough? The reality of formal education in my country is such that has been consistently underwhelming and underperformed grossly in very many of its Key Performance indices.
We have lots of economic professors in a state plagued with a perennial terrible economy; professors of law in a country where the rule of law panders to the whims and caprice of the ruling politicians and professors in engineering who like slaves have to work under artisans from Asia and the rest of the world to build national infrastructures.
It is common today to see graduates in administration who know little or nothing about letter writing or one from mass communication who cannot complete a sentence in a private discussion fluently with good English.
Taught in English language for four years and more, a supposed university graduate will excuse his poor use of the language by the fact that it’s not his mother tongue and of course there will always be some sympathetic and understanding to her reasoning.
What is it that we have missed that our education no longer produces graduates who are sound and fit in character and in learning?
Believe me I do not in any way suggest that the lecturers in our universities are solely to blame for the malady in our citadels of learning; as the factors are so numerous and too intricate in the system that a single article would do them no justice.
It is not the quality of work put into teaching by the lecturers but the quality of what is being taught that I have a grouse with.
For decades, we have worked with a British-styled school curricula in our educational system, so much fuss has been made and emphasis laid on the acquisition of certificate as a mark or proof of excelling in a given field of study.
In the bid to court the semblance of a secular state, we have separated or totally abandoned religious studies and some practices in our educational system and this has led to producing graduates who have no moral fiber or integrity.
Stories have been told of lecturers and professors extorting, harassing and sexually abusing students, indulging in cultism, supporting or inciting students to violence, involving in rigging elections etc. thereby producing graduates who are already social misfits and whose only claim to literacy is essentially that they can read and write or in some occasions, ownership of a piece of paper (certificate).
Given that there’s an obvious disparity between what is expected and what the output has been with reference to the educational curricula we have used over these many years, is not time we really have a holistic look at the makeup and nature of formal education in the country?
Are we stuck in the past while the world moves on? Are the courses and techniques that we teach today still relevant to solving modern day problems or we all simply living in denial?
Shouldn’t we take a different approach to teaching and learning and radically change our educational system to reflect present day realities? Really do these lecturers know enough?