In the bustling city of Ibadan, where the symphony of car horns and street vendors created a chaotic melody, I often found solace in the conversations with my favorite ‘okada’ rider, Kasali Olayemi. With his worn-out helmet and a perpetual grin, he navigated through the city’s labyrinth of traffic as if it were a dance.
“Education is the key,” he declared, a conviction ringing in his words. He spoke to me of his relentless pursuit of knowledge, working late into the night after ferrying passengers all day. Yet, despite his intelligence and determination, he uttered, “There is no one to help.” It was a poignant reminder that, for many like Kasali Olayemi, the journey to attain education as the supposed key to a better life was a lonely one, fraught with obstacles and unmet promises.
In every corner of the world, including Nigeria, there’s a widely embraced and motivational belief about education being “the key.”
While this notion holds true in many places, in Nigeria, it often takes a different turn. It feels like once students graduate, the metaphorical lock changes, and education may not be the sole key to open the door anymore.
Picture a student’s journey from nursery school to higher institution—the financial commitment from parents and sponsors. Often, they eagerly await their wards’ graduation, hoping for a return on their investment or, at the very least, a chance for a meaningful life.
Contrary to the popular saying, it is not that education guarantees the exact life you envisioned. Instead, being educated becomes an added advantage rather than a foolproof life guarantee.
Let us explore the diverse paths young people take in Nigeria today. Many successful individuals, despite being school dropouts, have thrived in fields like music, often propelled into the spotlight by reality shows, demonstrating that formal education is not the sole key to success.
Interestingly, the number of university graduates seeking jobs or engaging in menial work is steadily rising. Some share stories of transitioning from teaching to becoming tricycle drivers (Keke NAPEP), citing higher financial returns compared to their teaching roles due to meager pay.
In Nigeria, there’s a prevalent sentiment questioning the value of education. It comes with the phrase “Education is a scam.” Some argue that formal education falls short in imparting essential life skills and preparing students for real-world careers. They contend that schools offer limited perspectives, and the debate lingers on whether formal education is truly necessary for acquiring knowledge and skills.
In today’s world, where skills are just as important as academic qualifications, it is essential to cultivate your abilities alongside pursuing degrees. Simply acing exams and earning good grades is not the whole picture of education.
As Albert Einstein wisely noted, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
Real education sticks with you, evolving through repeated exposure and application of information and skills.
Education possesses the transformative power to improve lives globally. Governments at all levels should strive to ensure that every child, youth, and adult has the opportunity to access education and reach their full potential.
In today’s IT-driven era, those responsible for education should consider establishing centers where young people can learn coding, website development, and software solutions. This approach makes education practical and relevant, aligning with the demands of the modern world.