Time to rethink the educational system
By Olanrewaju Oyedeji
At a time like this when there seems to be lots of anomalies in our society, at a time when students and youths are at receiving end of many harsh situations, at a time when we demand for improvements in our citadels, at a time when the sun has eaten deep into our skins, writing this is quite important, not because there just is the urge to write but because we have to think ourselves of ways which we can solve our own problems.
I have followed recent world rankings on education and it is painful that no Nigerian University is among the top 1000. In Africa also, the picture is only slightly better as no Nigerian University is among the top ten. For a country with so many vibrant youths, natural resources, abundance of professors and blessed with intellectuals, we should weep in our hearts that we are not even continental champions; rather we are champions when it comes to ranking disorganized societies. It is slap on us as Students that the destiny of Nigerian Education has failed to improve over the years. True we have tried , we have made efforts, we have been on the streets, we have fought, our colleagues sacrificed their lives but it seems all is not working as we really want it to.
Is it not painful that in some universities located in the South West, we have had issues of victimization and suspension, we have had chaos, we have misunderstandings? Do we not see that the biggest undoing in our educational sector is our inability to really fashion a way forward for the future? If we have really tried our best, do we not think it is high time we look for other ways to really solve the issues we are facing?
Do we not think that it is enough that Students die and still we complain of the same issues all the time? The blood they shed, of what benefit do we attribute it to? A better education system, but it is even better in the 1980’s than it is now, although you will agree with me that there is population escalation in the educational sector today.
I posit to us all that really, we have to sit down and find a better way to agitate, we have to ensure that the views of those out there about us are proven to be wrong? But the truth is that when we keep doing the same thing people really get tired of us.
Sincerely, I believe that the rot in the educational sector is not just about the Government’s failings. We have to sit up too, we have to really decide what we want, is it that we are fighting for relevance or we really want a developed education sector?
If we see that the Academic Staff Union of Universities has a strong front in the country, it us because to a large extent they are united, same with NASU, but where is our NANS?
If we would be taken serious, we have to show that we are able to handle our own affairs, the frontier body that should collectively amplify our voice has failed us. In a case where at NANS Convention we have persons taking harmful equipment there, in a case where some of our leaders beg around for money, in a case where we showcase ourselves as “garage guys” where is the intellectualism in us?
Those who should stand for us and who should discuss our interest are not interested in our affairs really. If we would get a good front with the Federal Government, the President would not just talk to anyone on the street, rather this same set of leaders would be the ones they would talk to, but in a case where they are not after our interests, do we think we can fight our battles as individual schools when we are divided against ourselves?
My colleagues, even as we demand Change, do we not see that we are quite wrong in a way? How many times have we questioned the way the funds schools get are spent ? I mean how many times have we done that with a united voice, even if the Federal Government is not funding education enough, why can’t we come together to peacefully demand for an audit of Universities Accounts. Even with the autonomy institutions enjoy, are we not concerned that development has not even matched with our protests? In a case where we still have students with no equipment, in a case where companies don’t even trust our first class candidates, we have fought the battle as individual schools and we have not achieved our aims, the only thing is that we need to be united, we can’t agitate if we are not united, if we still behave like mediocre people, we can’t blame leaders when we are not even leaders with common integrity ourselves.
Sincerely,we need to fashion a better way to agitate, except a law is passed against victimization, suspension of student leaders, the truth is, there would be continued victimization, even with the fact that our protests mostly turn violent because we are protesting on streets where we have our police force that usually wants to shut us up, in the streets where it is unsafe, in the streets where protests get hijacked easily, our protests too have not yielded enough, maybe because activists still have refused to upgrade their methodologies to fit with 21st century realities.
We had an online agitation in OAU and we were successful. This was because for the first time, schools came together with a sincerity of purpose and agitated for one purpose and that is the reopening of OAU, it was not even violent, we did not even have to go on the streets, imagine the situation in which we can have a united voice to speak, a situation where we would not love money more than agitation, a situation in which we would face realities when confronting issues, a situation in which we would allow youthful exuberance to overtake us, a situation in which we would not allow morality to leave the process of activism.
My colleagues, it is imperative that we really sit down and act, what i am really saying is, when last did we call a real National Summit of Nigerian Students to get ideas on how we can progress as Students , on what we really want? We don’t do that, we keep fighting and end up begging later, doesn’t that show cowardice? It is better we don’t talk than to talk like we don’t even understand why we are talking? I posit that our leaders have failed us? In a case where Students union leaders are tried for corruption, do you think even the management will take this same persons serious when they protest; students that have begged for money from authorities cannot get the respect of the same authorities, it is not possible.
Colleagues, we have to wake up, we are not getting any better, we need to really know what we want. Enough of deaths, activism isn’t extremism, our leaders have been insincere with us all the while, that is why we fail to really get the impact we want to make as students, we have now turned protests to fun, leaving the ideals, what is the essence of protesting, and coming back to sign undertakings, isn’t that mockery? What is the essence of protesting really? Getting suspended, do we not understand that it shows that we have to rethink.
I am currently taking universities on lectures of how to use Social media to protest, I challenge us all to sit down and ask our leaders to be sincere for once and really stop deceiving us. It is time we really sit down as Students and gain our name back, our NANS isn’t functioning, we need to state what we want, we need to stop the protests of everyday, we need to have our own summit, we need to behave like intellectuals, only then would we be taken serious, we have achieved little, but sincerely, it is not enough because we have failed as Students especially as Students Leaders. And really, NANS seems to be confused on what they really stand for.
I wish all stakeholders would see sense in this my letter to us all and we start asking questions rather than continue to be undermined. It has been years now and still counting, we need to wake up.