Gone are the days when we leave Secondary school and crown ourselves with the title of ex-students, also awarding to ourselves the certificate that guarantees our gallivanting around the streets like big boys without a care in the world for the future. After all, we will soon be going back to school, to the university, where freedom is liberal and independence surfeit. The hiatus between secondary education and university education can take between a year and 6 years for some people; for me it took 3 years; a time almost allowing for me to graduate if I had entered directly into the tertiary institution. When we finally gained admission, we were local champions in our neighbourhood, having finally entered the coveted walls of the university, polytechnics or even colleges of education. Our lifestyles, modes of communication, dress-codes and in totality behaviour radically changed within a few months of becoming students. However, maybe it is just me; because I have grown up or the prevalence of tertiary school students around now, the hype that used to surround secondary school students who have entered the hallowed gates of the university has greatly reduced and I hope that crucial matters may be clearly seen now that the dust has cleared and the smoke is settling down.
As I said in the above passage, I wasted 3 years waiting for admission before I finally got admitted into a polytechnic which culminated in another wasted academic period in my life (this is a vitriolic discourse for another day.) while waiting for admission, I tried to read voraciously so that my O’ level papers will be complete and so that I could easily pass JAMB whenever we met again. Reading was the only meaningful thing I did in 3 years! Of course, I looked for work, but my frailty and young face was an obstacle towards achieving that aim so I resigned myself to nothing. If my opinion is sought, the years after a child’s graduation from secondary school could turnout to be the years for future fecundity and not for present prodigality. Parents and students alike wish for a seamless entry into tertiary institution from secondary school but this may be a huge waste of time in that we allow our worldly-wise, but business-foolish children from one controlled environment into another semi-controlled environment. The period after secondary education should be the period where our kids are taught real-world experiences.
When kids drop their pens after their O’ level exams, the seemingly ‘wise’ ones go to look for work while waiting for JAMB to get their acts right. The foolish ones patrol the streets and every social place trying to live up to a new image they cut out for themselves. However, the ones who are really wise don’t get a job but they learn a job. Some parents and their wards think this is demeaning. “How can my child go and learn tailoring or hairdressing?” they query. That vocation could be the best and cheapest investment you may hand over to your child considering the level of unemployment and decay in our academic system. When you equip your wards with a vocation you have taught him/her how to fish and stirred up in them an extant sense of responsibility that is dying out in our kids below 20. The best time to make money is while in school. Ask Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Jack Dorsey (Twitter) and a host of other young entrepreneurs. They made their money while under the four walls of school and discovered that they could make their mistakes anonymously too without shame of being found wanting. Your kids can too.
The education that is being passed to our kids are as archaic as the Walls of China even on subjects that are daily evolving such as computer science and engineering. The lecturers don’t know beyond what they were taught in 1980 (which was already outmoded as at then) and which is what they are transferring to your wards now. They will graduate “left-handed in old age”. Also, the incessant strike actions that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) constantly engage in to improve their lot and not that of their students is not a guarantee of a good life for your wards. Finally, there are no jobs out there and the competition is going to be biting in the next couple of years because 50% of Nigeria’s population is below 25 years. In ten years time, these 25 years and below kids will be out of university and will be jostling for the few places available for employment that Nigeria’s private and public sector have to offer. Do you want your kids in that cutthroat, red ocean of job-seekers? Definitely no!
A child with a vocation will go to the university and build on it. He has a focus and vision but will need the certificate and most importantly the relationship he will forge in school to enhance his vocation. Vocation differ and include arts, handiworks and skills. What are you giving to your child today? Running off to school to run off into the ever-expanding labour market may not be the ideal legacy for your child. Besides how may salary earners do you know that are rich if they did not dip their fingers into the messy pots of financial impropriety? Think of the future of your child beyond the conventions that reigned supreme during your time. Times have changed and we will do well to change with them.