By Richard Odusanya.
Granville Tailer Woods (April 23, 1856–January 30, 1910) was an inventor who held more than 60 patents in the U.S. He was the first Africa-American mechanical and electrical engineer after the Civil War. ‘Self -taught, he concentrated most of his work on trains and streetcars.
Character formation begins from the home and reinforced in the school, but there is nothing like that in our curriculum. So, what do you expect from the youths? Our education has not yielded the desired benefits, because a country that neglects its youths has no future. Good character is the soul of the youths and imbibing it in them is the tool to national development.
Although I am a proponent of strong institutions, nevertheless, two cases that come to mind were the roles Nuhu Ribadu of EFCC and Dora Akunyili played at NAFDAC. But immediately after their exit, their offices became toothless bulldogs because the youth who should have taken over were nowhere to be found, the results of weak Institutions and non existent foundations.
It has therefore become customary for the present office holders to be besmirched with dirt the very moment they leave office with all sorts of allegations to whip up sentiments, and curt the favor of the general populace who follow the tide with no purposeful direction. Added to these, our structures are personalized to the extent that they crumble like a pack of cards under flimsy excuses when the person at the top steps down. This is also the result of weak Institutions when our moral compass is thrown to the dogs. .
Some countries set up structures where justice, honesty, fairness, and equity become a hallmark in their educational sector. This is done because there is no difference between private and government schools, knowing very well that leadership is bestowed on all of them with equal opportunities.
This sets the tone for efficiency and transparency because it is up to the child to find his bearing in the years to come. However, and very unfortunately, the situation is quite different in our clime when the society is devoid of role models and mentors. This is an important assignment for us to jointly review and articulate the way forward.
In Africa, we refurbish old cargoes, recycle, and neglect the youths. In a situation where there is an opening, it goes to the children of the elites and ruling class because they were educated abroad and return home with presumed “better qualifications”. How does one reconcile the case of presidents, governors’ wives and top politicians owning schools while government schools are suffocated to extinction? A very destructive trend that has gradually become an accepted norm on the African continent.
One of the most important and key areas which we have neglected is CRITICAL/CREATIVE THINKING, which is just the system of finding solutions to simple and complex problems. Aside that, the lake of linkage between the research and technical institutes, skill acquisition centers and vocational schools for gifted and innovative youths and minds are stifled in the industrial sector, which is a necessary input for a sustainable development is absent.
Our elders do not seem to understand this, or simply do not consider the long term gain it will bring to the nation’s economy. It is therefore not surprising that our vibrant youths have channeled their energies to criminal activities because this is the only profitable option and there is no one to guide them. It is therefore not surprising that we cannot produce pencils and must import toothpicks. So unfortunate, that the black race is good at consuming without a corresponding increase in production.
A typical example is the issue of covid-19 which is ravaging the entire world, Nigeria inclusive, yet we are waiting to import vaccines when we have universities and research institutes which have become white elephants. It is imperative to wear our thinking caps and actualize the real purpose for advancement in technology and innovation.
Nigeria has the capacity to rise above mediocrity if we incorporate critical/creative thinking into our curriculum. A few private schools have taken the bull by the horns, but it is a far cry because most of these schools are in Abuja and Lagos.
This may form just a tip of the iceberg, so it will not have any impact on the society. Critical thinking involves creativity, problem solving skills, initiatives, and ability to identify challenges and proffer solutions to them.
THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE REVOLUTION OF VALUES THROUGH THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IS INEVITABLE.
Odusanya is the convener of AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE ACRI.