CONVENTIONAL EDUCATION
View From A Nigerian Woman

55

By Sophia Adepoju

Take a close look at that ‘miscreant’ have you ever really sat down and asked what might have pushed him/her into the snapping jaws of crime? I am sure you never have, but there is no doubt that you judged that person immediately.

In this article, I will express myself truly to you as a Nigerian Youth. This message is to every Nigerian, old and young, so do well to share. Thank you.

After marriage, the next step is to give birth to a child right? Of course, this is Nigeria and before that child even knows how to say and write his/her name you and your husband have already drawn a future career map for that child. And its either he becomes a medical doctor, or she is a lawyer or you know studies one of those conventional courses. When that child grows up finally, he has no choice but to succumb to his parents wishes out of fear and obedience (note that I will be using the term He/His generally), dear parent I know you want the best for your child but is that what your child or even God wants?.

He enters into a secondary school, sits through classes that drain him, our educational curriculum is a topic for another article. Eventually, he writes the West African Examination Council (WAEC) exam and gets his necessary credits. Time to apply to the university of first choice or parents’ choice. Just saying. He buys the JAMB form and sits for the computer-based test ( which most students like himself lack basic knowledge on how to operate a computer, I wonder what they were taught in ICT in secondary schools), simultaneously he writes the exam for the university’s POST JAMB exam which in my opinion is a waste of time and extortion but yeah no one is talking about it. Millions of students all over the country apply to that same school- Nigeria has the largest youth population coming third in the whole world after India and China- making the competition to get into the university harder. In his JAMB form he fills in for medicine and surgery, before getting the form he told his parents that he wants to be a microbiologist, but guess what they told he that the course is not lucrative and that he will never earn 6 figures and have a good livelihood with such a course.

Because of the inbred corruption in the educational sector and administration, the universities, polytechnics, and college of educations are substandard and lack basic infrastructures like hostels, laboratories, class halls, and rooms, and even teaching equipment, why you might ask. The allocated funds for the development of education are either pocketed by a certain senator, governor, or vice-chancellor. This eventually reduces the university’s capacity to admit an adequate number of students because they don’t have the means to care for the students.

That child remember him? There are only two options for him, it is either he gets admission into medicine or he gets admission into medicine. If he does not meet up with his parents’ expectations he may likely become depressed from the negative comments they make at him for failing them. Lets not even talk about societal judgments and pressures.

He will attend lessons and retake the JAMB, and POST JAMB exam. He checks the list and finds his name on it, yes! He finally gained admission, but his smile drops because it is not into the right course. He was given another course because he did not reach the cut-off mark which by the way is to reduce the applicants for that course. He will be sad that is for sure, he disappointed his parents, they may tell him to reject the admission and try again the next year or take the course and reapply. Now I want to make it very clear dear Nigerian parent there is no bad or no lucrative course or profession. And every course is as hard as medicine and surgery or law. I study Physiology at the University of Lagos ( mind you like every average Nigerian I went in to become a medical doctor) I can tell you that I stay up almost every night studying and I am not even on a first-class, that tells you no course is easy and no child is dumb, we just have different learning pace which is something schools and parents do not admit to.

But is that child really happy with that course the JAMB council redirected him to or the course his parents initially wanted for him?. maybe like me he wanted to be a writer, he will never know because now he is stuck studying a four-year course. As he goes through the course he is frustrated, lecturers and examinations hit him here and there and his efforts seem futile. There are even lecturers that will tell him and his mates that they will never pass the courses he lectures. The university curriculum as well is not structured for the benefit of the student. A high percentage of university students are barely digitally inclined. How I bless the day Google was launched.

Should I talk about the use of outdated materials used to educate the students? This is the 21st century, often called the digital era. But in my country Nigeria, society frowns at technology and the improvement and development it brings. Robots now perform delicate surgeries on humans with accuracy and reduced surgical death rates. This is the society I grew up in.

My protagonist finally graduates with maybe a 2.1 (second class upper), it is that time every youth must pass through. Waking up every morning, dressed up with a file in hand, the hunt for a white-collar job begins, which his parent will love so much.

Food for thought; when your child hits the age of puberty, both a son or daughter, sit down with them, have a heartfelt conversation with them, pray with them, and importantly support them. Do not assume that because he is still a child he is truly a child. They say teens are the hardest to train, I beg to differ. We rebel because we feel oppressed and unable to air our own opinions and choices. I am barely 20 years and I already have set principles and values that I live by.

Back to our story, after a long year of searching for a job, hundreds of applications and CV submitted, he does not get any job. He does not even have any basic skill or sharpened talent, why? Because our society frowns at making an earning through your talents or skills.

He complains to his friends and they advise him to start learning new skills, in the labor market of today, it is not about what course you studied but the skills you have and how fast you can troubleshoot and problem solve. He gets interested in coding and programming, starts a basic course, and applies through a freelance site like Upwork or Fiverr, gets a job with a tech company that builds websites and does advertisements for brands and companies. Finally, he’s life would probably change and he can finally earn good money and provide for his family, he is no more the prodigal son.

But no this is not the end because he gets killed one day on his way to work by an officer of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) based on ‘suspicions’ and ‘appearance’ and the presence of a software application on his phone or laptop; which I am sure the police officer has no knowledge about how it works. He is asked to pay but refuses saying he knows his rights and he is killed by a police officer’s bullet unlawfully. 

His parents will cry and cry but nothing will be done. This is just a scenario. Let us take a look at what else could happen.

Remember when the main character of my story wrote JAMB? Let us say that even after he rewrites he did not get admission for nearly three years. He will slowly slip into depression, I also noticed that Nigerian parents find it hard to talk about mental health matters, it is just a thing that affects the whites, the oyinbos. But sadly millions of Nigerian youths have become depressed and some even used suicide as a way out to cut off the pressure and judgments from society. That youth who is now frustrated because he could not get admission is now submerged in doubts and pressure, he has to make ends meet, he has to provide, make a living. He picks up an arm and joins youths in a similar situation and venture into crime. And he will eventually get killed by a police officer. Either way in this story my protagonist is doomed to die. This is our reality as youths in Nigeria. I can not earn a living because I will be judged for it, I will be criticized for making 6 figures at the age of 20.

Now you can see that the problem was never the youth, to begin with. It was the society we are born into. There are the loops of suffering, the pressure to do better than your friend, and judgments every corner. As for me, I am breaking out of this cycle, I advise you should too.

The ongoing #SARSMUSTEND protest is not just to end SARS but to pass a clear message to the older generation.

Dear parents and elites, you failed us, and I will say it again and again and again till you accept the truth. I do not fear anyone, for you are not my creator and I refused to be oppressed.

A fifteen-year-old Japanese/ Chinese is already a millionaire how you might ask. She earned through building applications or even as a writer working as a content creator ( a creative person who uses their talent to create information, like videos, articles, photographs, basically what a typical Nigerian parent would be against).

But in my nation, Nigeria, I first have to spend 20 years of my life getting a formal education. Now do not misquote me. I firmly support education but the right kind of education. In a quote, I made for a non-profit I am a part of- Foundation For Child Education spearheaded by the youths you themed as ‘lazy’, and ‘irresponsible’ I said;

“Education is simply training the mind to withstand challenges and setbacks. Give a child adequate education, watch him/her change the world.” – Sophia Adepoju.

I am barely 20 years of age and I already believe such. You see I volunteer for several nonprofits that work to create the things you failed to give us, the basic amenities we lack because of your greed and selfishness. Some include; Foundation For Child Education, Chop and Chat, The Youth Ally, Menstrual Welfare Drive, Ecowarriorsng, Reformers, and The Sustainable Developmental Advocates (SDA).

Each and every one of these organizations and much more that I am not even a part of are all initiatives created and founded by youths, young Nigerians, the children you deemed the problem and complained that they are always ‘pressing their phones’, have you ever asked them what they do on their phones? Some of us are leaders and doing amazing things but you cannot know that because every elder is right even when they are wrong. Let us call a spade a spade.

This is the 21st century, open your mind and unlearn the things of the old. The youths are here to make changes and rewrite history.

Every Nigerian that was taken away from us wrongfully will be avenged. Jimoh Isiaq will not be forgotten. 

This is a revolution, and if you do not support us, we will support ourselves because we are one, we are united!.

I am Proud of every Nigerian Youth fighting against oppression we are leaders.

LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#SARSMUSTEND

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