How schooling fuels poverty in Nigeria


Wrong perception

It is time to stop pretending. A worse advice to give to any child in Nigeria today is to give the age-long advice, “Go to school (that is, higher institutions of learning), get good

grades so that you can get a good job.”      Although this advice is originally defective, it has worked for an era, at least, so I will not focus on its original defects here.

          Information in the 2019 Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) brochure indicates that Nigeria currently has at least 556 higher institutions of learning, 172

universities, 7 other degrees awarding institutions, 129 polytechnics, 90 monotechnics, and 160 colleges of education. This means that since Nigeria has 774 local government areas, on the average, in every seven local government, there are at least five higher institutions of learning, just enough to go round.  This sounds great, yet so sad. So sad that today, even if you go to school and get a good grade, the jobs are not even there. Thousands of graduates are churned out of these institutions every time and the majority of them are unemployed or rightly, unemployable. No wonder Nigeria, according to the World Poverty Clock, overtook Nigeria has overtaken India as country with the highest number of poor people in the world.

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          In Nigeria today, it is better to reverse the old saying. Now we can tell a child, “If you don’t want to be poor, don’t go to school, that is, don’t go beyond basic education or secondary school. Or rather, “If you want to be rich, drop out of school.”

The ritual of schooling

On the other hand after religion, school has become the second place for ritual in Nigeria that has little or no positive effect on the health of the Nigerian society; and yet, many people believe that life is incomplete without it.

The majority of Christian and Muslim faithful in Nigeria are completely unfaithful in everything else apart from regular visit to places of worship. Also you would find that the majority of those who have acquired education remain uneducated.

          During my one-year national youth service for instance, I have seen graduates who could not construct two English sentences without error. And there are many of them out there. Then one wonders how this class graduates  managed to scale through school.

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          In his piece entitled, “Have I told you school is a problem in Nigeria,” Ganiu Bamgbose aptly

captures the scenario when he said: “Schooling in Nigeria has lost its evaluative potency.”

Any rascally young person can successfully go through all stages of schooling in Nigeria. If not, how else do we explain when an undergraduate of Computer Science could not tell the function of Ctrl V? What should we say of an undergraduate of English Language who cannot construct simple sentence?

          Do you think any Nigerian learning hairdressing can go through apprenticeship for one year without being able to at least, do “washing and setting”? The answer is no!

          The boss would have contacted the parents for a spiritual intervention. But SS2 students doing Commerce could not define partnership.

Problem of schooling

I have seen a postgraduate student who could not explain the term “hypothesis”. Yet

these days, people who cannot contribute any meaningful thing to the society with their first degrees are rushing to second degrees and others.

Just as peer pressure has led many young people to go to higher institutions when they would have fared better as craftsmen and the like. There is now a growing peer pressure not to stop at first degree but to proceed to post graduate level, as if to increase the individual’s years of poverty.

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School as poverty nursery

Look around you. It’s as if schooling is breeding poverty as the number of poor graduates keeps increasing.  After all, they are trained to “look for jobs”.  Now it is apt to say if you want to close your mind and growth, just go to school.

Look around you, while you spent four or five years in higher institutions, one year of youth

service and two years of looking for job, your friend who has gone to learn a craft or trade after secondary school has settled down. When  age and responsibilities keep telling on you, the same society that ressurized you to keep schooling will come asking you to do something with your life. They will advise you to learn a craft or follow a trade line if you can’t get a decent job. Then you will start doing what you should have done ten or more years ago. That’s where you actually belong, but you missed the road initially.

Many graduates today who find themselves in this situation are now going back to learn tailoring and the like.  The smarter ones are using holidays and the usual strike periods to do this. But if you will fare better as a tailor for instance, why stressing yourself acquiring certificates that you may never need.



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