SIR: Schools are shuttered currently. Children, youths, and adults are at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Every other facets of life are slowly recovering from the option of lockdown taken by many states to stop the spread of coronavirus. This lends credence to the on-going debate about the importance of schooling. We have reached a point where education has become necessary and any attempt to deride it is taken as an unpopular opinion. This reality might be changing.
Voices are rising in protest as they describe school as a scam. The days are gone when an individual graduates from school and he gets employment easily. The days are gone when you need a certificate to earn a good living. Many graduates are without jobs roaming the online and off-line world looking for any job they can lay their hands on.
On the other hand, there is a high rate of underemployment. The jobs that are readily available are poorly remunerated teaching jobs that can hardly cater for an individual’s needs in a highly inflated economy. Also, there are numerous menial jobs that can only cater for one’s survival.
Many who have taken the option of not going to a tertiary institution are probably doing better than graduates. The individuals with vocational skills are highly courted and these persons include both the literate and the illiterate. It has become a fad that one goes through the primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions but end up learning a hand-work just to earn a living. The question that will arise at this point refers to the essence of schooling if it cannot prepare a graduate to excel in the world of work?
Schooling looks like a luxury when one considers the poor state of Nigerian institutions of learning. Recently, the government had to carry out budget cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic and education was one of the main casualties. Education sector has been a poor recipient of public fund as seen in the government yearly budget.
We have reached a point where skeletal activities are carried out just to ensure that we have a semblance of educational activities. Unfortunately, the real thing is a sustainable investment in teaching and educational facilities. The curriculum of our schools is largely out-dated and cannot produce the kind of products that can make Nigeria a truly independent nation.
Finland is a prosperous nation today as a result of her huge investment in their education sector. Malaysia is another beautiful example of how proper investment in the educational sector can transform a nation. The next phase of development for the Nigerian economy cannot be achieved without growing the strength of our formal economy. It is a known fact that the SME sector contributes a lot to the Nigerian economy. The only challenge is the fact that the SME sector is mainly run informally.
The reason is not far-fetched. The devaluation of education has made order a far-fetched option for the average citizen who is trying to survive. Government have also failed to help the people as they run the affairs of the country without proper accountability. The tax paid by citizens is largely unaccounted for as a result of looting and embezzlement of public fund by persons in authority.
The on-going debate on the importance of black lives in the face of intense racism falls into this context. For Nigeria and Africa to advance the cause of the average black individual, they must find a way to grow the socio-economic lives of their people. The poverty of many African nations has reduced the citizens to frightful individuals who are ready to emigrate at the slightest opportunity. There is only one way for us to escape the hellish existence that has become our lot and this is not far-fetched. We can emulate the steps of the leading nations in the world. America is leading the world today because of her investment in the intellectual capital of her people. China has also risen because they have put education at the top of their agenda.
The task at hand is a double faced reality. We have a large number of persons who are eager to get educated and we cannot afford to fail them. On the other hand, we must change the perception of the growing number of persons who think schooling is a scam.
Aruakpo Okoribe, Ugborikoko, Effurun, Delta State.