Should everyone go to the University? It was in June, I think, in Vanguard Newspaper, that I first read something related to this question. I cannot remember the exact specifics of the article but I can remember fully well how I felt when I finished reading it, dissatisfied. I left feeling that there’s more to be said on this issue than just condemning the system and equating it with secondary school certificate in other clime. I made a mental note to research on this topic and write about it, someday.
Four months later, one night, I bought a candle, lighted it then went to bed. I woke up the next morning to see the candle burnt out. That is how I do my research, I literally burn the midnight candle. My research done, I made for the laptop and began to type this.
I will take a long hard look at our universities (and by university I mean polytechnics and other degree-equivalent awarding institutions), and lay their intestinal organs bare on the desk. If you are about to register for Jamb, keep reading. This isn’t designed to make you change your mind. But you have the right to know what you are up to.
1. The University Won’t Teach You Common Sense.
One will assume that the Ivory Tower will teach you something as basic as common sense. It doesn’t. There’s no department of Common Sense nor is there a general course Cons 101 (Introduction to Common Sense). Why should anyone bother with a learning ground that cannot teach this minimum requirement for admission into Homo Sapien specie? The university teaches bogus high-sounding courses and unleash graduates with so much intellectual swagger but with not one iota of common sense.
Is Common Sense such big deal?Yes. And it’s not common among we graduates. I will give you three instances, all happened in the NYSC orientation camp. NYSC because 100% of the campers are graduates, or so they claim.
A) An announcement that was recurrent in the assembly ground was shit. Corpers hurling shit on nylon all over the places, corpers shitting in front of the lister house, corpers shitting behind the camp director’s quarter, etc.
B) I got to the bathroom to take my bath, one morning, and saw that someone had deposited a lion share of shit there. On the cemented floor of a bathroom!
C) In the queue for food, corps members swear, push, shove and curse each other generously. Because of tea that was thin-coloured water, that would turn the stomach anyway, bread that was half-baked, soup that was miniature swimming pool. Some corps members go as far as take food flasks to the parade ground. And break Usain Bolt’s record as soon as they were dismissed from the ground, running to the food queue!
You can’t blame them, they didn’t do common sense in school.
2. It Will Give You Crazy Ego.
Being a graduate here will elevate your status with nothing to sustain your lofty height. A Nigerian degree will make you too big for available jobs and unqualified for jobs you’re supposed to do. The other day, a friend of mine got a job offer as a cleaner. All she was required to do was clean this facility every morning, Monday to Friday and earn twenty thousand naira each month. Say what you wish against twenty thousand but cleaning before eight o’clock with the whole day to burn seems like robbery to me. But this friend of mine said no, she’s a graduate and couldn’t do such. Now she’s teaching in a stuffy classroom 7.30am to 2.30pm for I think eleven thousand naira.
Actually I was among those who advised against the job; I told her that the job would soil her Bachelor of Arts Degree. That’s what schooling does to you, give you boldness with no safety net. I am not saying we’re regretting the decision because if she asks for my opinion again I will say no to cleaning job, she herself will never stoop that low. That’s how we are wired by education. I am trying not to use the word brainwash but what is the logic of rejecting an easy uneducated job and end up settling for teaching ‘A is for hardship’ for eight hours, for 365 naira per day?
3. It Won’t Teach You Survival.
Some slogans now dangerously hurled about graduates include: The labour market is terrible, No job for you out there, People are losing jobs every day, You must have something beside your certificate, Learn a trade or two, etc. Their logic is that you learn a trade along side (or after your) scholarship because you may or may not be able to put food on your table using your fancy degree. So they harassed us so much in camp, forcing us to the canopies to go learn bead-making or tailoring or solar system or auto mechanic or cosmetology or fish farming or money ritual (I wish) and so on.
Now my logic is, why go waste your time earning a degree that may or may not put akara and pap on your table? Why not shun the university, use the money to learn and set up, under one year, a trade that is 100 percent guaranteed?
4. University Education is Really Really Insufficient.
When you leave school for the labour market, you hear stuffs like aptitude tests, CVs, interviewing, computer proficiency, entrepreneurship, wealth creation, value accession etc. How many of these are taught in the university? Zero.
So you learn your What is agriculture, Types of farming implements, Functions of the plough bla bla bla. After five years, you may not have seen a sprayer before, but you have graduated and are turned rudderless on the society. Serious organisations will after (if they dare) employing you, send you on say six months training (so you weren’t trained in the university!?); usually employers won’t bother to waste such money, they’ll just ask for five years experience from fresh graduates. Our universities and polytechnics don’t give this kind of experience.
So what the hell do they do in higher institutions?
Don’t lose your temper yet.
A week or so to my passing out parade, our zonal inspectorate organised a forum where some ‘resourced persons’ spoke to us about life after service. One of them particularly insulted us. He dismissed our results as useless, called our CV empty, and generously poured scorn on our status. He really shattered confidences. I had to dig deep into arrogance to survive the brilliant onslaught. But he cracked a wall.
If the degree is something worthwhile, how come she doesn’t protect her children from lofty insults like Nigerian graduates are useless, half-baked, clueless etc? Why is the degree the meek cat people kick when they can’t find themselves in a toilet? Why? WHY!
5. Going to the University Won’t Earn You Respect.
The era of gaining respect just on the strength of carrying handouts under your sticky armpit is gone with our uncles. We are the dog eats dog generation. There are millions of graduates roaming about the streets like agric fowls in a tight room. No one will notice you. Why should anyone in his right senses burn candles, endure sleepless nights, romance starvation, spend a fortune just to join an army of a people who call themselves learned but who are mostly hungry, idle and clueless? What will it profit a student endure all the hardship, surviving starvation in the university and end up as the 1,895,623rd graduate in his geopolitical region?
6. It’s Dangerous.
The system is built to frustrate daylight out of you. Every process involves a bottleneck. An exercise as little as submitting file requires fasting, examination is pure battlefield. There are so much missing scripts that I suspect that at the end of their marking, lecturers usually put ten percents of the entire scripts in the bin as offering to their ancestors. If you escape the terror of lecturers, cultists will shoot you. Sigh…
The other day, before the Senate, a ministerial nominee was asked something on Boko Haram and he said he wouldn’t say much about them because he had a family to carter for. Same here, I won’t say much against cult guys because I have loved ones in the campus. So saying about lecturers, in Nigeria, lecturers are legends not because of their academic brilliance but for their mastery of the art of failing students. So no matter how brilliant you are, you may have to ‘sort’ a lecturer now and then to pass. If you are a pretty girl and you have he-goats in your department (and their are many of them in the system) then you need more than prayers. Try dry fasting.
Why should youths be exposed to such evil in the most productive period of their lives?
7. It is Terribly Expensive .
I am yet to believe that certain people cough out half a million naira as school fees in some private universities. I have seen and talked to people who are beneficiaries/victims of this fee that would kill Karl Marx a second time but I still manage to equate the whole stuff with fiction. I sometimes imagine how it looks like when they go to the bank to pay school fees, when hundreds of students line up, each carrying a Ghana-must-go bag full of money on the head!
Oh, this is two million naira in a four-years course we talking here! Not counting other costs, that’s assuming you feed on guava from the school farm, trek to and fro school, and read only books found in the library, write on slate, and use a broken bottle for haircut. And this is assuming a lot. But assuming it all the same makes for an outrageous sum. Two million! Hold me, I am dizzy. Now on graduation (still assuming) you earn the minimum wage of 18,000 naira (if you are lucky) how many years will it take you to recover your capital? Put this money in Alaba International Market. Or Onitsha Main Market. Or importation from China. Do the maths after one year.
A counter argument is that people who study in this schools are usually big shots whose parents already have positions for them after graduation. Then why bother going to the university? They can as well use their child’s WAEC since the position is the child’s birth right. Even if we succeed in silencing this set of students as an impotent minority, it isn’t the end. Most state universities I know (where people who feed from leg to mouth study) charge more than one hundred thousand naira per session. Add that to the nefarious accommodation fees, cost of feeding, ‘sorting’, textbooks, transportation etc. More than three-quarters of a million naira gone after four years. That is the price for two Keke/tricycles. Keke Napep business thrives so well in Owerri. So you buy two Keke, drive one in Owerri and give your brother the other to drive in Bayelsa. Calculate how much you will make, after four years.
I can go on and on, but what is the use? It won’t change anything, and I know people who will dismiss this as the rambling of a sadist. Some will attribute this to unemployment. But I can boldly report that I have gotten a job. Don’t ask me where, the only matter is that the salary is heavy. The last time I was paid I went to the bank with a carton–it’s that heavy. And before you pinch me for a loan I must inform you that I have since used the money to bury my grandmother.
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