Nigeria And The Satellite Education

By Ganiu Bamgbose, PhD
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Ganiu Bamgbose, PhD

Nigerian education can be described as a typical reflection of how not to be educated. Call this claim a sweeping statement or generalisation, and I will prove to you too that whatever you think is just an exception from the norm that I posit. From the "holy status" of English as the language of instruction, to the depiction of the indigenous languages as vernacular, Nigeria is certainly not ready for the education that will bring about liberation. With soon-to-be-adult children who make no sense of proverbs and adages and for whom English has become a mother tongue, our education is as good as being an extended colonisation.

Shall we talk about curricular that are not in tandem with the street circular? The ones with which we produce graduates who do not know how exactly they fit into the national equation. Have you heard Nigerian graduates say they want to proceed for postgraduate degrees to better their chances of employment? That says something. It says to us that we have not recovered from the education of the Industrial revolution where people are exposed and their intelligence built just to the extent to which they can be useful to grow industries.

The Nigerian education experiments whatever Europeans and Americans are done or almost done using. When they wanted us to believe school was the most important thing, they succeeded at it and that was the age parents might curse their children who decided to do anything else aside going to school. You can't be a musician. You can't be a footballer. You can't be an actor. Just go to school. Education is the best legacy. Only deviants would do otherwise then. That was the age young Yoruba singers were referred to as "alagbe" (the noisemakers). With a saturated population of the "schooled" who are now too many for the industries, the deviants are now the new standard. Even if we still live with the archaic mindset of education as the best legacy, people are now more comfortable with wanting to produce the next Osimhen, the next WizKid, the next Funke Akindele and maybe the next Mr Macaroni.

And oh okay, we are also pushed towards technology now. Tech is the new realm of the billionaires. If you wish to be among the emerging Bill Gates, Elon Musks and Mark Zuckerbergs of this world who had left school at the time we were still talking about education as the best legacy, yes, try tech.

This satellite education that tries to find where the world network is will at best produce successful people but cannot engender national development. An educational system that will bring about national development and transformation will take the peculiarities and realities of the nation into cognizance. Such education will not push its values into extinction. A functional education will enlighten and accustom its citizenry with the indigenous values and resources that can be leveraged for national development. Until it was publicised this year that King Charles was going to be drinking herbs as opposed to having chemotherapy, many supposedly educated Nigerians think lowly of herbs; a natural gift that could have been factored into our education. It bothers no one that we can make a video call to someone on our mobile phones. That's clearly technology. But we do not wish to have a conversation around how someone can be summoned from a pot in Nigeria. It is not strange to travel from Lagos to any part of Europe in airplane in six hours. That's the power of invention. But we cannot make anything out of the natural disappearing power that is available in the natural science of the Yoruba and other Nigerian tribes. The story of Onesimus, an African man who was instrumental in the mitigation of the impact of a smallpox outbreak in Boston, Massachusetts resulting in the variolation method of inoculation, should be an inspiration into how what we possess as Nigerians can form the basis of our true education and liberate us.

Like the Yoruba proverb which says what is being looked for in Sokoto (State) is right in the á¹£òkòtò (pocket), Nigerian educationists and policy makers must look inward to design curricular that will reflect us, suit us and develop us as a country.

(c) 2024 Ganiu Bamgbose writes from the Department of English, Lagos State University.

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