Monday 14 June 2010

Nigeria: A remark on the skills pool

A reflection of poor standards
It is rather unfortunate to say that the matter of the correct usage of English as presented in the blogs I have written about Babcock University might well be the tip of the iceberg of poor standards of education in Nigeria at all levels.
Our obtusely patriarchal setup stops people from questioning authority when wrong, prevents people from demanding accountability and quality in service provision and lulls people into a sense of complacency and acquiescence when the untenable is visited upon them.
This generalisation finds true in many circumstances especially with the case of many employees who have not been paid their wages for unreasonable lengths of time and have no recourse to any legal redress or actionable means to compel compliance.
Betters replacing Nigerians at home
The educational matter however touches on both formal and vocational elements of the delivery system such that in certain sectors of vocational discipline Nigerians are losing out to fellow West Africans who have mastered the skills better, have a sense of purpose and objective and are probably willing to undercut in terms of pay others who demand more but offer little.
Certain employers have found that many supposedly educated employees with graduate degrees in business and other disciplines do not have the requisite skills expected of people who have had university education.
The expectations of initiative, independence and minimal supervision of presumably expert personnel is dashed, that senior managers with the vision and direction for the organisation find themselves micro-managing their reports as if they are unskilled workers.
It is a sorry state of affairs if an employer has to resort to sympathetic employment of people who are kept on board for the fact that they have families to feed rather than because the employees are assets within the organisation earning their keep.
Education is the key
A complete overhaul of our educational system is required from ground up, from primary school education where pupils should be not be taught by rote but given the tools to comprehend the how’s and why’s of what they do in school.
Where teachers are not seen as demigods ready to mete out punishment with the whip as children are herded and nurtured as stubborn goats with the hope that the fear of violence might spur them on to grudging success.
The methods of measuring success do need to be re-evaluated, the brainiest kid should not be the one who has been able to regurgitate to paper what was in the notes verbatim but one that shows a clear understanding and comprehension of the requirements to answer the questions or provide solutions to problems creatively, sensibly and with a sense of original thought.
Children need childhood
Children need vibrant childhoods that allow for work and allow for play, the opportunity to read, explore, discover, question and debate without the fear of being rebuked because some age-old custom is being queried.
These fundamental childhood experiences are what give birth with ingenious and amazing minds and ensure that opportunity is equal and accessed with confidence later in life.
Our bad traditions of learning
Adults too have to adapt; inquisitiveness and precociousness should not be immediately be read as insubordination and the disrespect of authority, even adults can be wrong and they should be ready to admit that fact without the fear of losing face.
Engage, don’t ostracise; nurture and mould, don’t pigeon-hole; teach, don’t force-feed; lecture, don’t dictate and really, do let the children laugh – they do not have to suffer just because our childhoods were less colourful and lacking in excitement or adventure than what they might be ready to experience.
In this kind of atmosphere, no child will be left behind because the strengths of each particular child are known early in life allowing for the right guidance and help such that later in life they are aligned to the talents they possess rather than following from preconceived path of development that leaves them bereft of their abilities, personalities and sense of purpose.
The breed of child we need
Just imagine the number of students who on seeing the errors on the Babcock University website would have constituted a panel to edit, proofread and correct the mistakes being confident that they have a stake in the university without the fear of retribution but the expectation praise for doing the right thing.
We should be able to take on any institution for the sake of ensuring things are done properly, correctly and to a standard of quality that exhibits the presence of initiative, drive, ambition and vision.
Nigerian children can do this but only if they are nurtured in ways that allow us to become world-beaters in everything we do – it would not come with the kind of educational system we have now and the graduates being churned out of the universities today.

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