I overheard a conversation between a father and son yesterday. I couldn’t be part of the genesis of the conversation, but from what I gathered, it was centered around tertiary education.
The son had just finished senior high school with an aggregate of 23 and the father was coaxing the son to prepare for the Teacher Training College to become a trained teacher. And he hinged the funding part of the conversation on trainee allowance. I almost interjected the conversation, but…
The unspoken rule is: if the child is brilliant; get him/her to read medicine, law, or engineering at the university. If the child is not so bright, get him/her to a training college to become a teacher, nurse, or police whether they like it or yes. This is wrong.
There ought to be a paradigm shift. The WAEC is only helping us approach the tertiary admission process with a level of sanity that is safe for our future as people.
The WAEC, through WASSCE, is not to sentence any individual to their destiny. Let me prove this. There was a 19-year-old boy called Njoku Emmanuel —the Zuckerberg of Africa. According to the story and per the “unspoken rule”, his dad wanted him to read medicine at the university, which he obliged.
But the problem is; he loved computers and had accomplished much more with computers than any other tool he had encountered. Consequently, he couldn’t stay in class after the first year. He became a chronic absentee, re-routing money meant for textbooks to pay for programming courses until he dropped out finally to get a job at a technology start-up. Today, he runs a profitable tech start-up called LazerPay.
This is my point: if he had allowed WAEC and his dad to apply the “unspoken rule” over his fate, Africa as a continent would have missed this gift entirely, with thousands dying in his hands as a doctor. I can chest-thumb and say there are many youths today who have been face-sparingly coaxed into the wrong professions, and we wonder why corruption and incompetence are never-ending.
The way forward is this: Lift the bottom, but don’t cap the top
Let’s channel good money towards establishing first-world standards at the lowest level of our education —crèche, primary and Junior high school. This way we are lifting the bottom. Consequently, the products of these kinds of educational paradigm will graduate with excellence installed in their minds. The kind of excellence that says, “I can; even if the odds are against me”
Not capping the top means three things; (1) Inspire growth (2) Be supportive and (3) Be open to the ideas of these young ones even at the highest levels of education and nation-building. This way, our future as a nation will be in safe hands even in our old days.