The lie of tertiary education

December 9, 2011


by Tola Adenle

[As news of mass failure in the terminal examinations for Nigerian high school students continue yearly, the news of students going on rampage at the Ekiti State capital of Ado over Governor Fayemi's timely attempt to reform his state's educational system hardly comes as a surprise.

Governor Fayemi’s government had reportedly cancelled the idea of automatically promoting students to the next classes in Ekiti schools so that sanity can gradually return to the problem of students leaving high schools without the quality of such level of education being apparent.  The same half-baked “students” subsequently move en masse to polytechnics, colleges of education and universities.

A few years ago, Wole Soyinka reportedly suggested that universities be closed down for a specified period to plan and plot the way forward.  Of course, he not only received an unofficial cold-shoulder from governments at all levels but he was actually jeered at by quite a few people who occupy official positions that should make them know better, including “a man of God” who was a  bishop that was not self-anointed but of a mainstream church.

Students of Anglican High School at Ado Ekiti reportedly held their principal, Mr. Joel Akinola hostage while protesting against mass failure recorded by SS2 students in the mock examination conducted by the Ministry of Education. The students reportedly  attacked teachers. police officers as well as destroyed a police vehicle.

Well, this not-funny-joke and charade has been on for so long that these students must be made examples for others and Fayemi must be prepared to move ahead with this bold initiative, an initiative that I believe all those who lay claims to Awo’s ideals – central to which is education – should copy. 

There are Polytechnic College "graduates" who cannot spell basic English words that a primary school education should guarantee; M.A. degree holder Director at level "federal"  civil servants who uses "lack" and "lag" (as in LACK behind!), and even worse, deeply embed within the system.

Over to you: Governors Ajimobi, Amosun, Aregbesola, Fashola, Mimiko & Oshiomole, and of course other governors who may think it's time we fight this rot from the root.  Come to think of it, the old-fashioned way in our days was no automatic promotion from primary school.  Isn't that an [old] idea whose time should come back?   TOLA, December 9, 2011.]


It is very apparent that students are not learning much in our universities and polytechnics these days.  You will notice I did not say, “teachers are not teaching.”  Having been a teacher and one who actually love the profession, I hate to pass any snide remarks on teachers but knowing how Nigeria has changed and how the most noble things have turned to dust, so to say, I often wonder these days if these “student-businessmen” have to give their lecturers “cuts” so that they can be awarded grades.  Or, do they get threatened by cult members into awarding grades?  How do these students make the grade or have lecturers given up on them, especially with successive governments always seeing university teachers as being unworthy of the elevated life styles that civil servants live?

How can a UI student (Governor Lamidi Adesina’s son), run a business center at Joyce-B even if his commuting is made less-harrowing in his E-Class – which is around Ring Road at the other end of town.  Wait for this, I understand from the article that the young man is trying to relocate to Bowen, the new Baptist University at Iwo!  The discipline at Bowen is strict and I’ve wondered why the “student-businessman” would want such a move because the new private universities just coming along handle students as if they were still in secondary schools to save them from themselves.  Students seem to be in tertiary institutions these days for reasons other than the pursuit of education.

There are graduates of English Language who do not know what constitutes a sentence just as I’ve met a university graduate in agriculture who has “forgotten” that the area of a four-sided figure is not two into ‘l’ + ‘b’;  2(L+B).  “It’s a long time, …” the young man had said at an interview and he had a very straight face.  Looking back now, I think he probably had a shop and came to the interview on his arrival from Dubai that morning where he had gone to replenish his stock.

Of course many students hold jobs while attending universities abroad.  I did, and without it, I would have had a tough time of getting a university education.  Taking a salaried job, however, IS NOT the same as running your own business.  At my job, I could study on exam days or anytime we had slack time and most students who hold employment down generally, would not yet be at the stage of taking work home.  A student who runs a shop or “four businesses” like my compatriot the band boy, hairdresser, etcetera cannot attend all classes and studying after classes is definitely out of it.  No wonder a graduate of “Language Arts” had never heard of Hemingway nor read any Soyinka!  “We didn’t have any Soyinka set work!”

My opinion?  ALL student-business people must make the honorable choice of dropping out of all these colleges.  It may even become possible for those left behind to concentrate.  After all, you can see what Snyder, Dr. Land, Bill Gates did so that they could pursue their dreams single-mindedly.  We had an SS II transfer student some years ago whose ability was not better than a JSS l student but in spite of this, he played hookey a lot and I decided to find the parents.  The father said the right things and I went away impressed. When the kid still failed to show up in class, I made one more effort and sent a student to check him out;  here is the report he gave me: “Auntie, I saw X; his dad was home and he directed me to X’s room where I met him watching video.” The ‘messenger’ coughed/laughed nervously but continued.  “Auntie,” (gasp!)  “X said he’s not coming to school anymore and will be attending lesson …” This was first month of second term of his SS ll.

X is now at Ogun State University and we all have an idea how he must have gotten in.  What a country!

The Comet on Sunday, February 2003



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