Human supremacy is hinged on the fact that as higher animals; we utilise to the utmost our large brains. Beyond the instincts of other animals, we are able to reason our way out of challenges, plan towards future endeavours and take stock of our past actions. The moment we alienate our ablity to think, we are just as any other living creature.

It is therefore most regrettable that the current educational system practiced in the African environment stifles the reasoning and ingenuity of the African student. The fact that Africa remains as underdeveloped as it is today belies the immense potential stocked away in the vaults of the mind of the African youth.

Any argument that we may not be good enough to solve our own problems has been quashed time and time again by our comrades who have gone abroad and performed remarkably. These men and women have been students, academicians, scientists, lawyers and even entrepreneurs. They have taken advantage of the problem-solving approach of foreign institutions to express their skills and creativity. They have at the same time – in most cases – been drafted to solve the problems of their new found “homes”.

Some may be quick to ask: “And so, why don’t they return home to help us?” The answer I must say is not far-fetched. Every individual craves the urge to feel important. A system which frustrates skills and intimidates creativity does not engender the feeling of importance. Speaking from the Nigerian context; it is almost impossible to find an environment conducive to acquire knowledge much less think or innovate.

In the words of Dr. John Hibben – former president of Princeton University: “Education is the ability to meet life’s situations.” There is an eternal truth in this statement. For if we gather knowledge without putting it to the use of the larger society; we are as good as ignorant men who perish for lack of knowledge. It therefore becomes necessary that anyone wishing to make change must look beyond what we offer as education in these parts – acquisition of unusable knowledge. Some have had to leave the shores of their home countries to achieve this.

Now, I am not advocating that we all leave our countries to go overseas because we desire to make change. We must however realise that if we must move the African continent from where she is to where we want her to be, we must be ready to alter the norm and make sacrifices. This system of unnecessary hardship and use of obsolete methods in education must be set aside. Our leaders, educationists, parents and students alike will need to play huge roles in causing the change we desire. If we fail to act fast, we may never be able to revive the waning faith of the African youth in the potency of education.

There is the need for greater investment in education by all governments. This is the only way its access may be granted to the average individual. Many of the fast growing private institutions are out of the reach of the financially “humble”. As a matter of fact, with a greater chunk of the African populace battling poverty, only measures to expose people to affordable quality education would deliver us.

Our academic curricula need to become tailored to solving our problems as a people. The emphasis must be on practical application of concepts rather than memorisation of abstract theories handed down by colonial forces. Professors and teachers would have to allow more dynamism into classrooms. The fact that things have changed needs to be recognised; so we do not have lecturers making statements like: “Just give me back what I taught you and you will pass!”

Students on their own part have to start developing themselves beyond the classroom and textbooks. The internet with its endless possibilities should be used as a tool to broaden the scope of already acquired knowledge. Most importantly, whatever it is you find yourself doing as a student should be seen as an opportunity to change the society. Money should not be a primary motivation. As far as I know, everyone who set out to make change in business, science or the arts, ended up making money.

Every developed nation in the world today has the influence of homegrown ideas and solutions to thank for their development. The citadels of learning have often been the incubators of these ideas. If we fail to do so in the African environment, we face the scary prospect of being left behind forever.




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