In Africa, it appears that the majority of people just want to have what every other person seems to be having. We build houses because people think we should, we buy things we don’t really like because our current social strata says it’s time to have those kinds of things. So basically, we are fast becoming a bunch of sheepish imitators with no pay. Down to the academic world, we also go to school because every other person that you know is there, more still you appreciate the ‘Barrister’ title and you definitely know it will suit the image you see in the mirror, “Got to have me some of those”. There is an air of mediocrity and superficiality attached to our education system. By all means formal education has its impeccable perks but at the same time believing that the certificate is the sole key to your success is an incredible lie.
A lot of graduates will confess that they were happier to graduate than staying graduated. This is a natural tendency especially when the harsh reality of unemployment hits you in the face. By default you are forced to embrace the idea of entrepreneurship. We cannot stress it enough that Africa will only get better when Africans get busy in the economic vineyard. In mutual expectation also we submit to more encouragement towards the technical aspect of African education as it will drastically boost our economy by balancing if not effacing our foreign consumption rate. If we produce more of what we need then we will be stepping up the ladder without spending excessively into the coffers of other countries. If Africans persist in the welcome development of entrepreneurship through skill acquisition, gradually we will effectively cater to our needs and depend less on foreign countries who might be reaping us off.
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The idea of encouraging more vocational training in our schools does not in any way suggest that the formal education is unimportant, rather the deal is to strike a balance between the two. They compliment each other and work hand in hand. A fusion of both will be a good step in creating more room for the manufacture of more home-grown products and services. It will be all the more delightful to know that as time goes by, the importation of foreign goods and services would have minimized to our good.
It is a fact that many people despise their jobs but still have to keep up with it because they have bills to pay. Being emphatic about the prospects of talent development/skill acquisition perhaps will make people more at ease with themselves when it comes to work. Work could be fun if you sincerely love what you do. Through skill acquisition, there is a wide chance of becoming your own boss faster than you think; more significantly it can be a means of sustenance and survival when your dream job is not easily coming through. So in recommendation if schools do nothing to help you in that regard, it automatically becomes a personal mandate to take that decision to develop yourself in a more practical way than sitting around and complaining about what you deserve and what you don’t or worse still becoming a social media zombie.
In the pre-colonial times, we believed in the works of our hands, we knew we had to work. Physical labor was part and parcel of the African man; from your vocation, you cater for yourself and the family. Then the coming of the imperialist introduced the formal method of education, laying strong emphasis on literacy. Fighting the westerners made us compete with them, not in our familiar version of living but with their own definition. People sent their children to school so they could learn the ways of the Whiteman, as a strategy to defend our home communities, unfortunately the reverse was the case, we lost our way and became subtle western slaves for a second and much longer time (well I guess everything happens for a reason).
Now the idea of acquiring the certificates has dampened the value of technical works so much so that any job gotten without the certificate seemed to be a typical ‘menial’ job. The truth is that as a fact in the international community, there is no way everybody will have either the patience or privilege to be schooled in a tertiary institution neither will all the graduate you know end up with the white-collar job that we die for.
The only reason why people get angry if they don’t get jobs immediately after school is because we have been sold a lie that the graphically designed paper is the sole key to success. When people get so entitled about what they expect to be paid at the end of the month, it is because they also bought the lie that the essence of schooling is to earn money. These days education is not for enlightenment but for social-climbing, gathering certificates for vague titles and regard from people. Thank goodness for iconic figures like Adenike Ogunlesi, Innocent Chukwuma, Chude Jideonwo– born, bred, studied and made it in Africa, irrespective of the economy jargon.
So now the hard question, which has the propensity to sustain you better and longer? Certificates or your skills? Well both matter but one reason why your vocation might be the perfect fix is in the area of job security. On the other hand, if the certificate was not worth it, people will not be desperate to have one at all cost qualified or not. Some people literally go to school to have something to start with or fall back on, for posterity sake.
Formal education has been limited to a mere social requirement – it is almost a construct that you must go to school. That is why even after the years spent within the four walls of God-knows-where, many ‘graduates’ have a hard time expressing themselves in speech and in writing. So what’s the need? I believe that so much focus on the paper and pen without a simultaneous ‘dirtying’ of the hands is an early way of incapacitating the African child. Today so many schools are churning up and for what it is worth I hope their academic services is worth the chunk of money paid.
Informal education has sadly promoted a sort of laziness in some African nations. Because of the strong emphasis on the certificates, people are readily willing to desperately flout the rules and manipulate their way in and out of school. If they got the real idea behind being in school, they would have their priorities right, it will be a clear journey of purpose, and for real, precious time won’t be wasted. Life was not meant to be that hard, but somehow we complicate things by missing the points, chasing shadows and overlooking the treasures we have within. The African graduate without a skill is an unprepared African. If just certificates got people by in the 1960’s, well it takes more than that now to get by.
There is need for the government to honestly tackle first things first. Investing in the wholesome education and formation of the younger generation should be taken into serious consideration; making practical provisions for people to come to terms that reading and writing is not always a guarantee for that splendid life. Make no mistake about this, the formal education only buttresses your abilities and potentials. We need more of people who can boost the productivity of the continent, and not runaway Africans who just have titles and certificates. Do you know that while your parents throw you the party for emerging tops and best in your class, you could have possibly declared yourself unemployable? The latest sad situation is that some private firms are picky about some qualifications, they feel intimidated and actually worry that they cannot afford the appropriate salary that the candidates deserve.
The basic thing schooling does for you is making you enlightened and more open-minded(meeting new people, and learning how they do things and why). Such knowledge helps add value to your skill. Africa today demands a blend of formal and vocational education, they are inseparable. Imagine how useless some science textbooks can be if no one can translate the idea into practicality, it will simply be a junk-full of grammatical jargon.