Expanding University Education In Nigeria
University education in Nigeria presently consists of what was known as the 3R's: reading, writing and arithmetic. This is ultimately the principal role of any institution of learning from primary to secondary to higher education. But education is for a purpose. I posit that, that purpose, is the education of the whole person which consists of the body the mind and the soul in a trinity. If the whole person enters the society properly educated the person's services to the society would be enhanced and therefore more beneficial.
The 3R's is mostly concerned with intellectual parts of a person. It seeks to move the individual to explore what the world is made of and how to expand our knowledge of our world and how to make it better for the benefit of all. Therefore languages, history, mathematics, physics, economics, etc. are pursued. Professors and laboratories and researches are conducted to gain and improve on all these fields of knowledge. But these have to do with the mind which is just one part of the trinity. The body and the soul are not directly affected in these studies.
The souls of our students are left to the religious organizations to deal with. But the religious leaders who are left to attend to the spiritual life of the students are not part of the university staff. They raise money from outside the university to build awesome cathedrals and awesome mosques. And students go to worship as they feel “called.” Since all religions are inclined to being evangelical and since each religious group teaches love one for another but practices supremacy over the infidels, the ultimate results is conflict. Also within the religious groups are clicks that could be called extremists that tend to exclude even adherents of the same religious organization. Thus we have divisions within members of the same faith. But we do not have a way of bringing the students in a common way that would enhance their relationship and services to the entire country.
This could be accomplished in one of two ways:
- The easiest is by incorporating in every subject area an ethics class. Thus business students would before graduating take a course of study in Business Ethics; medical students, Medical Ethics, Lawyers Legal Ethics, etc. These courses will not have a religious connotation but would provide a lesson on how to do unto others and the society as one would like to be done to.
- The second approach is similar to the first except that it ought not to be restricted to disciplines. It will be one general course for all students on ethics without application to law or medicine or education. This course could be seen as what the university believes in but with a heavy dose of “do unto others as you would be done to.”
Students on their own sometimes try to deal with this need to cater to the needs of the soul by forming gangs. But the definition is most often based on individual/group needs which could be adversarial to the society's needs. And none members are seen as enemies resulting in gang fights.
If there is a mild effort to reach the souls of our young wards, the body is almost completely ignored. Yes, there is effort to feed the body with food. But a growing young person (17-24) needs much more than food to develop. It needs what I would call sports or exercise. As an old teacher we used to hold that a healthy mind dwells in a healthy body. Having strong, well developed young men and women can be accomplished with minimal investments in athleticism. A university stadium (nothing like Penn State Football field, capacity 80,000 fans) is envisaged here. But a modest facility where competitive sports entertainment could take place.
The key word is “competitive.” It is competition that would make the students take the required training seriously. It could be organized as a league along the political zones so that universities in a zone/league play against universities in their league and towards the end of the season zonal finalists and semifinalists play inter league teams for national champion. If this is organized properly it could serve as a way into national teams. I do not have just soccer in mind for the same is true of track and fields, basketball, field hockey, and other sports. Nigeria has great athletic talents that are not fruitfully developed. In the just concluded Collegiate Track and Field championships. I was overwhelmed with joy as I saw Ofili, Okoro and Gbamgbose shining in their fields. From the speech of Okoro it seems that she is just a JJC to America. I can bet you that Ibadan and Nsukka has hundreds if not thousands of these young men and women on their campuses.
I occasionally watch world university games, but seldom see outstanding Nigerian university athletes which is surprising giving the dominance of young Nigerians in under 17, under 19, etc., events. This dominance is even visible in world cups and Olympic Games. So what happens when Nigerians go to universities? Do they lose their muscles? Or are strong men and women in Nigeria not smart enough to pursue higher education?
Apart from the physical development of these young men and women sports as an entertainment helps those on the stand relax. There is nothing like getting up from a library bench and going to the stadium to cheer for your favorite team. It relaxes the muscles and the entire body.
And that is extra benefit at no extra cost.
Written by Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba.