HAS UNIVERSITY EDUCATION FULFILED ITS PURPOSE IN NIGERIA?

unibadanHi readers, Mujeeb is back with yet another of his speeches. Only that this time I got to deliver it at the Union of Campus Journalist debate; the Professor Egbokhare inter-press debate 2016. I represented my local press organization at the semi final round and here is the speech.

The gospel of the national policy on education states that tertiary education is established on three pillars: to develop the intellectual capacity of individuals; acquisition of useful skills by the individual; and instilling proper value for the survival of the individual.

In light of these revelations, can we say that university education has fulfilled its purpose in Nigeria? Well, join me in this ship as I paddle you to the safe shores of reason and logic.

The university is said to be a unit of the universe and as such, we need its guidance to illuminate our way through the darkness of societal space. This is why there are well planned academic syllabus that convey us to the bus stop of our various university degrees. Through assigned assignments, we develop our researching prowess; through group works, we can test if our intellectual loaf truly works; through the knowledge we share, we become a library ourselves. On this basis, we can say that university education has fulfilled its purpose because one of the goals of the National policy on education is to develop students intellectually.

Ladies and gentlemen, many successful Nigerians have passed through the beautiful gardens of the university and tasted the sweet fruits of its opportunities. Clubs like Sigma, associations like the Union of Campus Journalists, and competitions like the Nigerian University Games give students the opportunity to use dexterity to carve fame boldly on their name. Wole Soyinka- the literary legend, Bola Ige- the oratory oracle, and many others would not have acquired their skills without first drinking deep from the spring of the university. On this basis, you will agree with me that university education has fulfilled another of its many purposes.

It should interest you to know that the university serves as a networking avenue where ideas are shared and valued. Inaugural lectures, conferences, workshops and so on expose us to diverse range of knowledge. This opportunity which is present in our university expands our horizon on how to live, behave and survive in the larger society. On this basis, ladies and gentlemen, you will once again agree with me that university education has fulfilled yet another of its numerous purposes.

At this juncture, I will like to borrow the wisdom of Chimamanda Adiche when she reasoned that there is danger in looking at only one side of the story. So ride along with me as I paddle you to the other side of the sea.

Yes, university education has developed us intellectually, but to what end? Many a student can boast of his result but cannot boast of how much knowledge he can recall. This is because we only read to pass examinations and forget everything at the end of the academic session. It is even worsened by lecturers who feel students’ opinion do not count. It is either we get it or forget it. In fact, many of them have a checklist where answers that are out of their box are automatically awarded with a cross. This is more the reason why students read to pass than to understand. And they claim that the university expands our horizon of thought and understanding. Tell that to Suli Breaks, a poet, who once said that education is about inspiring the mind and not filling their heads. It is quite sad that this quality is lacking in our university.

Ladies and gentlemen, yes, we acquire different skills from numerous university activities. But has it translated to individuals becoming useful members of the society? Take for instance, the buildings in this campus; how many of them can our engineers in the faculty of technology boast to have constructed? You see, that is where the problem lies; when we are fed with theories but starved of the practical skills. Is it not appalling that even a road side mechanic understand the practical rudiments of how to use a screw, yet our university education have failed to take a cue. This is why Pat Utomi had called Nigerian graduates, bunch of certificated illiterates.

On the issue of instilling roper value: the goal of every university is to produce students who are sound in learning and worthy in character. But looking from the angle of how the students’ union politics train even novice to become incorrigible liars; how some of our fellow students dress like tomorrow will never come; and how cult activities are rampant in campuses, then, I cannot help but conclude that university education in Nigeria is yet to fulfill its purpose in Nigeria.

Ladies and gentlemen, do not get e wrong. I am not saying that university education has completely failed to fulfill its purposes. All I am saying is that it still has a long way to go and there are opportunities for it to grow. Thank you.

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