It is an open secret that our society places too much premium on trivialities and vain prospects; thus it applauds and appreciate concerns of entertainment on one hand, and by the same yardstick discourages and discountenances the growth of more pleasant concerns like education. That is the society we live in.
Today, talent shows in which people sing dance or wiggle their way to mouth watering prizes are the order of the day. Is it not time some one paused to give a second thought to how this aberration has fast become a norm? Long gone are those days when the education sector was seen as the most important and crucial facet of the society and given reverence in due regards. Long gone are the days when university graduates were treated with respect, viewed with awe and held in esteem. These days, students toil in school in a system that discourages even geniuses; they endure sadistic lecturers innumerable hardships, terrible living conditions and against all odds to good result. But they are given a handshake from the VC and a CGPA in return. They come out with first classes, second-class uppers and are never heard from again after the initial hysteria. They are subsequently sidelined or marginalised, some retained as lecturers and back to the toil at the very most. No mouth watering prize no scholarship, not special cuts, no attempts at potential realisation on the part of the government. It begins to come to thought whether it is such that the system fails to realize the importance of incentives as it relates to education and youth. Having read the laments of scholars lecturers, concerned academicians, parents and stakeholders in the educational system as well, a bitter conclusion is subsequent and an obvious one at that; that the educational system is fast losing its juice in Nigeria after all.
In a country that is plunging head deep into self destruction, it is no surprise that this is the case.
Why would we not further deteriorate? Why would we not churn out un-enthusiastic and even half-baked graduates in the end of the day? Why would the reading culture not fail to null. Why would we not be a far cry from our own past? Why will the educational standard not fall to ridicule? Policies upon policies every year; no one sees to their implementation. Truths are left unspoken, hands shake in the dark and the statute book becomes a self actualizing machinery and otherwise lays waste, same becomes of the educational system. When even education becomes a disregarded prospect, what will become of everything else?
Shockingly, one finds big-weight brands and large franchises, who one would expect to come to the aid of the system as they stand to benefit from a fully functional educational system in the country, rather sponsoring and actualizing these not-unimportant but little-of-worth talent shows and exhibitions. Big-weight brands like Star Glo, MTN, Malta Guinness among others find themselves hardly of mention on educational matters and of easy reckon when questions on entertainment are posed. The situation is ridiculous.
Some months ago, a list of 700 best universities in Africa was released. While countries like South Africa, Egypt and even Tanzania had schools that made the list, there was no single Nigerian university gracing the columns. This is easily an aberration. Nigeria would have had at least one school on that list a few years back. As it stands today and appreciating the retrogressive considerations as regards the educational system, one cannot but fail to be capable of consternation, its no surprise after all. Perhaps Nigeria will top the list of countries when it comes down to the question of talent shows and sugary superficiality. Since when has entertainment become a concern of crux focus, more important than education? In what outrageousness will singing, dancing and acting replace scientific and technological breakthroughs and enterprise? While countries like Japan, India, Korea where very recently as underdeveloped as Nigeria, today they are easily agreed to have surpassed Nigeria in terms of development? But entertainment did not make it so. And here we are, wasting away under a delusion? While I will vehemently posit that I am not averse to development in music and entertainment, I am merely pained by the misappropriation of concern the society has come to tend upon, and the aspect of entertainment would merely serve as paragon.
Nowadays, nobody wants to stress themselves, as people put it. Easy money! So the youth sees the wealthy musician and off goes a possible Albert Einstein or Michael Faraday chasing cheap cuts and wet-dreams, but why not. A friend once put it to me that Olamide the rapper is more important than Wole Soyinka to the Nigerian society. While I was more than amazed at his audacity and while I will beg that such idiosyncrasy be forgiven, I will not assert that I lacked knowledge of the inspiration for his argument. Perhaps he concedes that Olamide is richer and more famous than Wole Soyinka. While such an argument is subject to great contention, it only proves to the point that we have come to such a position in this country where we no longer revere intellectuals, and will subject them to the ridicule of being compared to singers and showbiz philanderers. After all, we are at the juncture where showmen are showered with gifts and money and first class students are given handshakes? Sad yeah!
We all have a part to play in providing a panacea to this malaise, and a long lasting one at that to the canker-worm that is fast eating deep into the fabrics of our educational system. It is not enough that the university bodies make environment conducive for learning, they even have to ensure that well-funded facilities exist and they should even find a way to tackle the problem of brain drain. The society in turn should wake up from its slumber and set its priorities straight. Young people should be instilled with interest in books and the nymph of knowledge. We have to realize as a country that there is the certain need to initiate incentives for deserving students who single themselves out with exceptional achievements.
Until the Nigerian society starts to place more premium on education and sound education at that of its populace and youths especially, the future remains terribly fright.
By Otuagomah Deborah Rukewhe