A cross-section of students writing an exam in a Nigerian university.
Sit with me awhile, fellow thinker, as we ponder the complexity/absurdity that is the Nigerian educational sector. I have classes from 9 to 5 today but I’m skipping one class so I can breathe, have lunch and discuss this urgent matter. It’s awful sunny for a Wednesday. Come sit with me under this tree for a bit. There you go.
For six months, we were home forgetting about our degrees only to be rudely awoken by an exam time table the very month that the ASUU strike was called off. Lecturers that never came to class pre-strike, arrived fat belly first to class to cram ten-week courses into three weeks. We still don’t know how it will happen, but somehow we will finish the syllabus before exams start.
I should tell you about the time one of the Ezekwesili sons
unconsciously angered a friend by having an opinion on how the sector should be run. My friend was angry that this Nigerian never smelled the insides of a Nigerian university, never had to deal with a six-month unwanted holiday from school, never had to cram a ten-week course into three weeks, never had to stand in class because the seats were inadequate and still felt entitled to an opinion. I ask with my friend, “Who made you ruler and judge over us?” How can such a person understand what I mean when I complain the lecturers are not lecturing the few times they manage to show up? How can he understand the fight to resist sexual advances from the unscrupulous ones? It is impossible to empathise when you have never experienced this kind of pain.
Our leaders place their offspring in fancy foreign universities while they put the rest of the country on a shabby educational diet. Isn’t this injustice as bad as corruption and terrorism? Do I have a right to be bitter because the young Ezekwesili hasn’t ever attended a Nigerian university? If I had the means, wouldn’t I like this young man choose to study outside my country too? Am I not even currently mulling over the idea of getting a master's degree at NYU? Don’t foreign-educated Nigerians get employed in Nigeria quicker than others do?
What would you do, fellow thinker? Pass me the bottle of Coke, would you? Tell me, what do you think can be done about Nigeria’s educational sector now? Not ten years from now (we’ve been projecting better universities since 1960), right now—this year? Will I get to finish in a couple of months or will I have to sit through another strike action while the federal government continues to be indecisive about my fate? Linger awhile, share a thought with me.