This is not Martin Luther King’s dream, this is not a dream were a Tiv or Urhobo woman will become President of Nigeria or a dream were Nigerians would stop voting based on popularity. In as much as I sincerely want those, that is not my dream.
‘I have a dream that we would start practicing comprehensive education’
There are two different Latin roots of the English word “education.” They are “educare,” which means to train or to mold, and “educere,” meaning to lead out. While the two meanings are quite different, they are both represented in the word “education.” Thus, there is an etymological basis for many of the vociferous debates about education today. The opposing sides often use the same word to denote two very different concepts. The former uses education to mean the preservation and passing down of knowledge and the shaping of youths in the image of their parents. The latter sees education as preparing a new generation for the changes that are to come–preparing them to create solutions to problems yet unknown. One calls for repeated memorization and becoming good workers. The other requires questioning, thinking, and creating. To further complicate matters, some groups expect schooling to fulfill both functions, but allow only those activities promoting educare to be used.
The implication of this can be best explained with this example; If I take a document and photocopy it, what is the chance that the photocopied document would come out clearer than the original document? You already know the answer. This is what happens when you get ‘educare’ instead of ‘educere’ or both. Little wonder why we keep having this crop of students churned out of schools every year, they can barely hold a good conversation.
Q: What is your proposed solution?
Right beside my house exists this primary school (that has no name and is not government approved), the teachers can barely put together good sentences, when they read I am in tears. As I write this paragraph, I can hear them teaching the kids the meaning of NAFDAC, NDLEA, OPEC, NBA, etc, this is too much information for a six-year-old that cannot spell the first word of any of those acronyms. I like the idea but dislike the approach. In a bid to groom an all round student they have neglected completely the steps to educating.
You do not learn to run before learning to walk.
At this elementary level, teach kids basic communication skills, mathematics, arts and science. Watch with laser focus for what interests the kids and engage them more in that area of interest. No need to teach them the number of countries that make up OPEC, they will know in due time.
Competing In The Future
The learning curriculum in Nigeria is so obsolete, it can be compared to someone learning how to use the typewriter in 2016, or opening a Hi5 account today. Looking back at the last 10 years in comparison with the previous 10 years, there is a gulf in need especially in relation to employment. So for example, in the year 2000 the job of a social media manager did not exist, today almost every company has at least one. The ever rising discoveries in technology makes for scary future, so many jobs of the current year would be extinct in another 10 years and new ones created. Yet our younger generation are still going to tertiary institutions to learn the same things we learned 10 years ago.
‘there is fire on the mountain, and no one seems to be on a run’.
Let us agree that we have made huge mistakes and are already left behind, we can now channel our knowledge by investing in the future generation. We need to inculcate an applicable and futuristic curriculum so we do not play catch up with the developed world forever.
We must begin to take the future generation seriously, infuse career class were students can talk about their dreams, likes, dislikes, people they admire, wealth (please talk about money!), etc. This way we can identify to an extent strengths and passion of the children. Give room to express themselves without judgement or condemnation, we have had enough of teachers calling students talkative, when you can groom and make them talk purposefully by allowing them host a mini event in their class. Help them identify their career but do not choose for them, research with them but make them feel like it is all their doing.
The idea of writing projects in my opinion is a waste of time and comical at best. Maybe the idea is to groom students in research or in paying people to do the projects, I would never know. I however know it does not show you learned anything in that field. My ideal example of a project would be the teaching style of Professor Analise Keating from the series titled ‘How to get away with murder’ (If you have not seen it, please stop reading this and go look for it, thank me later). Let these students embark on real projects where the lawyers would be responsible for drafting all legal documents and ensuring they are airtight, accountants prepare accounts for the budget, the economists ensure they are realistic in their planning, etc. you get the picture? Project year should be the most exciting, a year where they put in all the numerous lecture hours to the test. At the end of the project, students would have learned teamwork, negotiation, creative thinking and many more. This would prepare them to an extent for the workplace and entrepreneurship.
Conclusively, the only thing I have in common with Martin Luther King is ‘believe’ in our dreams. I believe this is the way to go for the Nigerian education sector and I am willing to go the extra mile to ensure it is a reality. So in 2017, myself and my team will be giving career talks at schools across the south-western states while trying to include career classes into the student’s weekly schedule. We have to be ready for the future.
I will leave you with this quote: Don’t get blindsided by the future – Thomas Frey’.