So, you know how you are supposed to go to school, get good grades, get a good job… and so on? We have all heard that mantra before but we also know how Nigerian schools actually are. In this article, I’m trying to stick mainly to a tertiary institution setting. A typical Nigerian university is not a place that will prepare you for life outside school.
In Nigeria, learning is mainly aimed at passing exams and not actually acquiring knowledge, you have lecturers who don’t care about students getting an A in their course any more than they do students learning.
So, you know how to define the ‘Theory of special relativity’ but do you understand it in depth? Of course, not. That question is not in the past questions for the last 5 years, they probably won’t ask it and even if they do, you can answer the other 4 questions whose answers you have crammed.
Nigerian schools are so far away from the level of education required academically that the Nigerian schools on any list of ‘best schools’ are there in spite of the Nigerian system rather than because of the system. You have final year students in schools doing the projects done by students of other schools with all confidence because ‘they can’t know’ or just grab the whole thing online, it is not like they check for plagiarism (public universities mainly).
Okay, you kill yourself in school doing a program in school that you would rather not do but you have done JAMB thrice and you just take any program given to you, you work extra hard because you have no flare for the said course, you do extra research online in your spare time into what you’re being taught and find out your lecturer is teaching the wrong thing but you can’t tell him because he will think you are acting like ‘you know more than him’ and you sure as hell know we can’t have that. You make sacrifices, give up playing the guitar, drawing and singing just because you want good grades.
DON'T LOSE YOURSELF FINDING YOURSELF
You finish school with a good grade and want to get a job but they won’t hire you without an NYSC certificate, so you go to the other end of Nigeria to spend a year and you are posted to a secondary school where the students can’t spell the subject they are having but the principal tells you that you have to help them during exam periods because ‘they are your younger ones’ but even though you know that your younger ones are at home, you help them because your principal said so and that’s what everybody is doing. You finish your NYSC and the students’ situation haven’t improved but you convince yourself that it is the work of the government and that you can’t really change anything.
You go back home and start job hunting, you apply for 20 jobs a day and you are not called for any interview because they are looking for 23 year olds with 5 years of work experience, after 3 months, your friend/uncle/aunt hooks you up with someone who asks you to come for an interview, you are so happy that things are finally looking up, it doesn’t matter that you studied engineering in school and the job has to do with accounting, why? you convince yourself that you can adapt, you get to the interview and find you are competing with 37 other people. The person whom you’re supposed to put down your name with has only an SSCE certificate, is rude and screams insults at all of you just because, but you take it because you need the job and insults won’t show on the face when you start making money. You take the exam and find out that the questions don’t have anything to do with the job you’re applying for. You pass anyway because you’re sort of bad like that and you go for the oral interview, which you also pass and the people conducting the interview tell you how exceptional you are and how they would love for you to work for them, you are so happy and say you would love that too and they tell you they will pay you 40k per month, you try to see if they’re joking and realise that they are not and you make some calculations in your head. You see that if you accept the job you will be spending 20k on transport per month, that’s half of your salary gone already without thinking about food, other expenses, and God forbid you have to pay tithe out of what is left. You suck it up, after all the alternative is a company that wants you to come and work for free for 6 months and then they ‘might’ employ you after as a full staff.
You get home and tell your father who blows up and tells you that it is unacceptable, that the school fees he paid for you per semester in school was more than that – Even though you know that’s clearly a lie, you attended Unilag but can understand his frustration. He decides you are to do your masters now so as to increase your chances of getting a well-paying job. But this fills you with dread because you remember Nigerian schools and just the thought of this kills you. How are you supposed to find a well-paying job in the same market as Femi who graduated from Stanford University three years ago but still unemployed? You try to convince your parents to put $20,000 into your Master’s program but even you know that’s a huge ask – that could be anything from 6 to 20 million in Naira…If you can even make it into the school with your half-baked knowledge. You’re not entirely sure your parents have the money but then you realize even if they do, can they afford to part with it, and in exchange for what anyway? A probable shot at a 300k monthly job? Which on a global scale adds up, or rather down to about $650. You then realize cashiers at Walmart make over two times that amount and you’re depressed… Why did you even go to school in the first place? How valuable is education in a country such as this?