NIGERIA UNIVERSITY SYSTEM IN A DOOM OF INTALECTUAL EXTINCTION.
In Rusk (1969: 30), Plato remarks that “those who are rightly educated generally become good men.” The ability of a nation to grow and develop depends on the quality and emphases in her education system. National growth in this view becomes estimated by the number of “good men” produced by the nation, not basically on the number of nature wealth such as minerals, forestry, arable land and sea products she is endowed with. Of course, Nigeria has all these in abundant added to larger population but she is one of the poorest nation around the globe. Any nation whose population or majority of her inhabitants are under the slavery of both suffering and wants the evidence obviously stands apparent proof that such country has a large slack in her education, for the ability of man to use those resources to improve life and living depends on education; the thrust, quality and dept of education received. Therefore it becomes a doom to any country’s education whose past and present leaders decisively ignore the belief that quality education marks the difference between abundance and want.
Outside the inculcation of values, other purpose of education includes the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, physical skills and their exhibition. The individual required those competencies to enable him live contributively to the development of his society. This is the main factor that distinguishes man from the rest members of the animal kingdom.
Education makes man and man makes the world. Apart from nature, the greatest determinant of what the world had been, and still is or yet to be is man. Man makes the different between happiness and sadness, victory and defeat, greatness and downtrodening, peace and war. He makes different between enjoyments and suffering. And the ability of man to use the resources of this world to improve life and living depends on the dept of the education he had acquired. That is the defense of Plato when he asserts that those who are rightly educated generally become good men. Man’s understanding of his place in the community, the nation and in the world depends on his education.
Nigeria as well as other nations is richly endowed with resources. Now, the ability of the country to manage these resources judiciously lies greatly on the maximum enlightenment given to the inhabitants of the over usage and efficient. Efficient then becomes valid at the level of competence. This invariably means that the factor blamable for inefficient and incompetence is enlightenment. In such case, our universities and teachers may be blamed for the tremendous fall in the country’s education. The university and the teacher remains respectively the institution and agent through which enlightenment is engineered and made prominent. And as long as informal education is concern, the university remains the final level of learning. As the final level, you may be persuaded to believe with me that whatever our societies are today may be traced to the nature of university and teachers that had shaped the society. My people used to say that with a child’s behaviour his family could be traced.
Yes, affirmedly I must say, to our fathers it may be too hard to believe me. This is because they passed through the four walls of the university when there hadn’t been war. They saw no war. Had they- they would understand that I am speaking from the bulk of experience. The university as an academic community becomes untimely affected as immediate as the agent that run it yielded to the call of corruption for discipleship. Actually I did not see but I have heard the saying that teachers measured consumable tuber of yam with measuring tapes. This of course had nothing to tell about the impoverish condition of the teachers since they were entitled to a pay monthly. It rather places and emphasizes prudence on the economic acquaintance of the teachers to manage resources meticulously. But this economic inbuilt to the management of resources have been abused by an endless quest for money than the heart yawns for further knowledge and the keen to pass it on.
Today, uncountable expenses are carried out which parents are completely ignorant of. Of course, no reasonable student tells his father that some of the money given to him was diverted to sorting out his examination results or that he used it to buy someone who writes exams for him. This is quite unheard of but it is a white truth. The desperateness in the student cannot allow him to jeopardize his future as the gluttony of the teacher couldn’t hold him from pronouncing doom over the result of whoever attempts to do otherwise. Seeing other students striving to meat up with the demand, he cannot afford to isolate himself in fear of the hash reaction of his parents if eventually he fails, the helpless child succumbs. Because of these common reasons many students had fallen victims of various circumstances in the hands of some wanton wolves that occupied our educational system. Many of our girls for this reason had sustained lasting injuries that can only be revealed to their husbands after marriage in the bid to retain their integrity over their claimed virgin state.
Consternation seized me the day two younger students were discussing their admissions into EBSU. You wouldn’t believe what they were discussing. The first person raised the complaint that she was told that some lecturers intentionally keeps some students from graduating because they refused to sort the lecturer’s course. Abashed, I heard the second discussant accepting that she too had been informed and was ready to pay her last dime to make sure she came out with a better result and at the right time due for her studies. My mind went forth trying to envisage the kind of graduates such predetermined corrupt students would be after a four or five year of inexperienced studies in the university to come out in a flying colour. Since that day the smell of death overtook my mind against intellectual activities in our universities. Of course, what would be the mind of someone who did not know the heat of WAEC and JAMB only to find him/herself in the university after a huge amount of money had been paid to push him/her overboard? This same means that brought her will hardly leave because she knows that a slack in it will unpredictably flush her out of the standard. Here then, the standard becomes measured by what one has at hand, not the things in the brain. And you may be surprised that such people stand greater chances in the labour market than the more serious ones because the country preferred paper to experience, efficiency and competence
Chin Ce (2000) has a question to us all, thus, “what feature of the triangle awaits our children folk?” this is a question which even generations to come will have to deliberate upon. For as our educational system attenuates and attempts to attend unrehabilitating decay, generations to come must unavoidably be affected. Then everything rhymes to the Biblical statement: a little leaven leavens the whole lump (1 Corinthians 5:6). Examination malpractices began and gained ground in higher institutions before slowing deadly down to our post and primary institutions. The same trend also had cultism taken until it becomes a mature means for acquiring political positions. All these activities stemmed up from the quest and struggle to meet the unaffordable monitory demand of our educationists. Well, it may not have affected gross population of the country, but yet a little while and everybody will become casualties of the dominant war. The situation rather becomes exacerbated by the continuous dumping of graduated students from going to services, unemployment problems abated by ceaseless strike actions of our universities.
I like the definition of education given by the BBC dictionary. It defines education as “the process through which a person is taught better ways of doing something or a better way of living.” The second sentence depends itself on teaching values. This is the basic principle for which education was introduced to humanity, and the teacher himself is not exempted. In school education the teacher is central and pivot to the determination of what is being learnt, but the teacher must himself be educated. Many of what we call teachers today are not educated even though they teach in the tertiary institutions, that is the problem. If education to which Socratic and Plato emphasized had taken place in them their whims would have been affected positively. You won’t believe that till the moment of this writing, a lecturer have decided to keep me from going to service since August 2007 when I graduated. My aged parents could do nothing because we have no mouth. Ask me his reason; it was just that I published some works in my days with him as a student, while he was my Head of Department. To my surprise, he called me to his office one day and told me that I was too fast. According to him, he became a graduate before putting up his first work. Finally, this is the situation that has pinned me down in Ebonyi State University till this moment. That was the reproach my zeal for creativity could pay me.
Despair threw me to the life style I never thought for myself just in other to keep life going. Against my wish, I became a professional exam malpractist. I went in for university examinations both in EBSU and ESUT and some ordinary level examinations just to sustain myself. These deals continued to keep me until when my academic adviser took notice of my involvement in such acts and asked me to stop it. I yielded to his instruction because I had known him as the only man standing in the department. Until now I have been sustained by the joy and happiness I derive from creativity. I still wonder why this sadist is retained in school and called a teacher. It is this sort of teacher Ocho (2005) noted when he said that “many of them are not only deficient in character but also in learning, so those students who learn under such teachers suffer double jeopardy,” a teacher becomes a cheat or a fraudster once he deviates from teaching what is right in the matter of conduct and learning. With such practice they routinely encourage students to cheat in exams, tell lies as a matter of principle and to exploit for selfish ends.
It was easy for me to stop malpractice even when it gives me sustainable amount simply because I listened to the words of my adviser following the conduct I had marked him different for, who can tell about numerous others whose frustrated conditions had placed wanton cheats and notorious citizens warming up to storm the society with the venom they had acquired from their frustrated university training. As long as the university continues in its never-ending programs among graduated students, it remains very skeptical to vouch for any sudden end to malpractice and cultism. Not all the teachers are corrupt of course. Yes! The less corrupt ones are very few, and with their limited number they can hardly influence the life of those corrupt ones, instead the gullible ones among the few retreats and join the chorus. The moral consciousness in them has not allowed them to do so, but who can predict their next moment as they grow healthier, luxurious and increasing in the practice undisturbed.
Ikejiani (1964 :74) summarized all that should be said about teachers in the followings:
The important sign of the long-range health of a nation is the spirit and quality of its teachers. There is no substitute for teachers who are dedicated to their nation and to their pupils. It is for this reason that Africa nations are correct in emphasizing the importance of getting the very best people possible into teaching and making every effort to keep them there. The future of the nation rests in the hands of the teachers. For the quality they possess today will inevitably be reflected in the citizens of tomorrow.
Note the last sentence. I mentioned earlier that teachers cannot deny their hands in the rampant moral laxity that had besieged our societies today. The teacher is at the center and pinnacle of national progress and development. The profession required the very best of the country’s intellectuals and government should also try to make the job lucrative. But will that put an end to the predominant problem? It definitely should, but with those corrupt eggs still retained, the attempt would seem like pouring an old wine into a new wine skin. Why? The same will still be infested with the decayed disease. The people in the profession had accorded no respect to the profession. At least, today, with the autonomy granted to the university added to the percentage granted to teachers generally by UNESCO the profession has become generally enviable. A lecturer made clear to us, during preaching, in our days in school that as long as civil service in Ebonyi State is concerned, the university remains their oil company. In his words, “lecturers cannot count their sexual harassment and other corrupt practices on their claimed poor salaries.” Teachers often times envy politicians. But the apparent contrast is, they have failed to remember that their job is not only paid by men but also by nature herself. That is why Plato maintains that those who teach others knowledge are wise men. And of the more, political positions are temporal compared to teaching that is a permanent job.
A true teacher has a spirit which animates good teaching, and which respects and cared for all his students as fellow human beings. That is what Ikejiani tries to point out. A true teacher accepts his limitation in knowledge and skill and therefore remains a student to learning all through his life. A true teacher promotes the spirit of enquiry among his students. Above all, he is patriotic, dedicated to his assigned duty and to the progress of humanity. Nigeria needs such teacher and needs teachers who could appreciate the place of teachers in the education of the future leaders. Whenever these attributes leave the teacher, the students turn out unpredictable victims. Does it mean then that the reflection of gangsterism in and outside our government, the rare regard for fellow human, the wanton quest for wealth, this suffocating indiscipline in public, private life and the utterly lack of patriotism in our societies have traceable root to our teachers? Obviously yes. No one offers what he does not have. As a teacher (character molders) it is what is in us that we pass on. And often we forget that knowledge goes hand in hand with culture and values to make the beneficiary a better citizen.
The road to national peace, growth and stability is through education. The mind is the principle of thought and action and this conditions his reaction/responses and behaviour. Education determines how we think and how we think determines our actions. Considering this heavy duty and obligation placed on the teacher by not only human beings but nature, I wouldn’t know why teachers should be involved in such mean and dastard acts of encouraging exam malpractices, exploitation of those they are supposed to raise good citizens, encouraging licentiousness among students through compelled fornication in exchange for result up-grading, falsification of accounts and absenteeism. As they kept themselves vulnerable and porous for wants of falsehood, the public then joins to treat them with such absurd reputation they hold among themselves. But I hope that as ASUU is striving for salary increase of university teachers, it is also putting arrangement in place to sanitize the system by screening out those bad eggs among university teachers and adopting a standard qualification as a yardstick through which any further intake and those still in the game could be measured for a better nation building. Except this arrangement is made practical, the university system remains in a doom of education extinction.
In the Igbo land, the teachers are called Odozi-obodo, meaning people who put the society in order. This attribute derived its genuineness from the preponderance of their roles in advocating and encouraging moral values, virtue and inculcating them in the students. This attribute is today abused. The system is not achieving the expected aims. The central aim of education is character training, knowledge and skill acquisition. We are rather producing people who are neither character worthy nor in leaning. But not all teachers are responsible for these. The government gave scanty attention to the teacher’s working condition and they are forced to make every opportunity around them a means of generating an added salary. Therefore, the citizens remain wrongly informed and our societies undergo decay the more.
Chin Ce. (2000) An African Eclipse. Enugu: Handel Publishers.
Ikejiani, O. (1964) Nigerian Education. Nigeria: Longmann.
Ocho, L. O. (2005) Issues and Concern in Education and Life. Enudu: University of Nigeria Campus.
Rusk, R. (1969) Doctrine of the great Educator. London: Macmillan.