The Education Chasm

Here’s my Friday Tot for today. Ponder.

TL

chasm

Africa is far behind the world in virtually all the indices that matter. This has not always been so. I did a quick scan of Europe before the year 1000 and compared to the existing African societies of that time. There was not much of a difference in the level of technology (especially evident in weaponry), the quality of life of the people and the level of bloodshed and warfare going on. However, from around the 12th century, a divide began to appear.

The greatest collection of books since the destruction of the Library of Alexandria was found in the Sankore University in Timbuktu before the 12th century. However, this university was more of an exception in Africa, and there was no formal way of passing on accumulated higher knowledge to the next generation of scholars in Africa. The first wave of universities in Europe appeared around the same time the Timbuktu University was founded – in the early 1000s. Between 1000 and 1300, there were fourteen universities started in Europe as opposed to the one in Africa. It is not surprising therefore that the first Renaissance in Europe started in the 12th Century, whereas there was no such thing in Africa.

A Renaissance basically involves the explosion of new knowledge in science, governance, the arts and other spheres of living that generally lifts the standard of living and the productive capacity of a people. Hence, there is usually a direct correlation between them and the flourishing of learning centers. The next renaissance in Europe started in the 14th century and lasted till the 17th century. It is not surprising that between 1400 and 1500 in Europe, forty universities were founded. In Africa, we still retained our single one in Timbuktu. It will not be surprising to the observant reader that the Renaissance started in Italy because fifteen of the fifty universities founded in this 700year period were in Italy.

By the 17th century, the gulf between Africa and Europe was even greater. But this was not the end. The accumulation of the wealth of practical knowledge in Europe for a 700year period from 1000 to 1700 culminated in the Industrial Revolution which began in 1760 in England. By this time, Europe had left Africa in the dust of ignorance, and we haven’t been able to catch up. It is one of the reasons why Africa is usually the last to get integrated into most things that the rest of the world has begun to take for granted. It is the reason degrees from Nigerian university aren’t recognized in many parts of the world.

The Asians learnt this lesson well, and were more interested in knowledge espionage from the West than anything else, sending their professors to camouflage as houseboys for erudite western professors in order to understudy them and get the precious knowledge.

We sadly are yet to understand that this is the genesis of our lagging behind the rest of the world today. We simply do not place a premium on education in Africa in general and in Nigeria in particular. Our curriculum, faulty from the start (designed by colonial masters to produce low level workers) has barely evolved since then; it is a disgrace. When our young people graduate, it is with zero knowledge that is applicable to the real world in most cases. There is a huge disconnect between what is taught in schools in Africa and what the real society needs. Rarely do African universities solve real world African or world problems through research. Even our ancient University of Timbuktu of the 1000s was better than us in this regards. In those days, the Mansa of Mali would give the Islamic scholars in the university practical problems from ancient Malian society and the higher level students were given this as assignments which they then proffered solutions for, which their faculty would then present to the king. How many universities in Nigeria mirror such? How much of our budget goes to education? Why can we not pluck the low-hanging fruit of reviewing our curricula, from primary to tertiary levels to reflect current realities and actually equip students with knowledge that is applicable to society? Why don’t we recognize the value of our teachers on all levels and pay them accordingly? We should insist that the children of all those who have a responsibility for education directly or indirectly attend schools in Nigeria, not private schools, but public schools.

What is saddest is that this is not affecting only our now, but our future. As long as education is at the level it is, who exactly are we training to compete in a world that will continually to be super competitive as the years go by?

It doesn’t matter how many motivational conferences, Africa Rising conferences and so on we do, if our education in Africa remains as it is, the chasm with the rest of the world will only get wider.

ff @tundeleye on twitter

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14 thoughts on “The Education Chasm

  1. So on point!
    What’s worse is we are not even trying to take due advantage of the ‘technological leap’ which the western world has provided. We can’t pluck the low-hanging fruits and even those that have fallen on our laps, we have no idea what to do with them.
    This thus brings to mind the pertinent question, are we truly a lesser race compared to the caucasians?? Easy to ’emotionally’ disagree… Not very difficult to ‘logically’ agree either. #sad!

  2. You just nailed it TL. Until. I see no real change until the children of those who have responsibilities for our education are victims of these menace. I fear for our future o!

  3. This is an eye opener and call to us all to move away from what is and what should be, the disconnect between what employers want and what we ‘graduates’ offer is getting wider each day. This explains why supports for applications in most is given; when all odds are down by some European coy or to say the worse from India. Sad!

  4. This is just the plain and simpleTRUTH Tunde and sometimes i wonder how we can begin to retrace our steps and get it right.
    I hear it on radio every single day- people just lament on and on about Education- but do we really have the willpower to make it better.
    The ‘ogas-at-the-top’ have sooooooo much work to do but you see, the problem lies in our lack of PRIORITIES!!!!! For them, 2015 is ultimate while everything in the NOW is left to suffer.
    I guess all of us have roles to play……For example,let me ask this…..WHEN LAST DID YOU VISIT YOUR ALMA MATER (i.e. primary and secondary school)?
    If we all tried, in our own little way to give back to the schools that helped to groom us and help us hon our skills, don’t you think a change could begin?
    I definitely think so…..but alas, its just my opinion.
    We have got it wrong from the beginning but let’s not lie there and suffer in regret. IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP!!!!
    I just hope and pray this willpower will be resurrected…….one day, one day!!
    I will not loose faith!!!
    God HELP Nigeria!!!!!

  5. Action please, i think, we have hard enough of complains by all and sundry, ACTION! ACTION!! please.
    Let’s make a conscious attempt in Africa to bridge this gap a little. the problem is that we think, it is the fault of the top alone. Noooooooooooooooo, even the bottom is also to be blamed. I am advocating for a conscious purpose/target driven holistic overhauling in Africa!

  6. This is so true, captures perfectly where Africa stands in the world in terms of education and every other thing in fact!! In a country where undergraduate education has been put on hold again for almost three months…what is the way FORWARD??

  7. This is plain gospel truth. I disagree ever so slightly though about a premium not being placed on education. A high emphasis is laid upon education is Nigeria (I’d say Africa but I’m not at all knowledgeable about the entire continent). The problem is that the wrong kind of emphasis is laid upon education. The demand to “go to school” is much higher than ever before, more and more graduates are pouring our each year, and like you rightfully said, with little or no knowledge applicable in real life, thus the wrong emphasis on education being laid. People just want to get a degree, irrespective of the means, a lot buy their way through, others glide through: cramming and dumping what the lecturers/teachers want teachers want during exams. In the end, intelligence is determined by who has the most connections or who’s able to cram and dump, and the people that suffer most are the creative ones. Its a shame really, but we can only hope for a better tomorrow I supposeThis is plain gospel truth. I disagree ever so slightly though about a premium not being placed on education. A high emphasis is laid upon education is Nigeria (I’d say Africa but I’m not at all knowledgeable about the entire continent). The problem is that the wrong kind of emphasis is laid upon education. The demand to “go to school” is much higher than ever before, more and more graduates are pouring our each year, and like you rightfully said, with little or no knowledge applicable in real life, thus the wrong emphasis on education being laid. People just want to get a degree, irrespective of the means, a lot buy their way through, others glide through: cramming and dumping what the lecturers/teachers want teachers want during exams. In the end, intelligence is determined by who has the most connections or who’s able to cram and dump, and the people that suffer most are the creative ones. Its a shame really, but we can only hope for a better tomorrow I supposeThis is plain gospel truth. I disagree ever so slightly though about a premium not being placed on education. A high emphasis is laid upon education is Nigeria (I’d say Africa but I’m not at all knowledgeable about the entire continent). The problem is that the wrong kind of emphasis is laid upon education. The demand to “go to school” is much higher than ever before, more and more graduates are pouring our each year, and like you rightfully said, with little or no knowledge applicable in real life, thus the wrong emphasis on education being laid. People just want to get a degree, irrespective of the means, a lot buy their way through, others glide through: cramming and dumping what the lecturers/teachers want teachers want during exams. In the end, intelligence is determined by who has the most connections or who’s able to cram and dump, and the people that suffer most are the creative ones. Its a shame really, but we can only hope for a better tomorrow I supposeThis is plain gospel truth. I disagree ever so slightly though about a premium not being placed on education. A high emphasis is laid upon education is Nigeria (I’d say Africa but I’m not at all knowledgeable about the entire continent). The problem is that the wrong kind of emphasis is laid upon education. The demand to “go to school” is much higher than ever before, more and more graduates are pouring our each year, and like you rightfully said, with little or no knowledge applicable in real life, thus the wrong emphasis on education being laid. People just want to get a degree, irrespective of the means, a lot buy their way through, others glide through: cramming and dumping what the lecturers/teachers want teachers want during exams. In the end, intelligence is determined by who has the most connections or who’s able to cram and dump, and the people that suffer most are the creative ones. Its a shame really, but we can only hope for a better tomorrow I suppose.

  8. This is plain gospel truth. I disagree ever so slightly though about a premium not being placed on education. A high emphasis is laid upon education is Nigeria (I’d say Africa but I’m not at all knowledgeable about the entire continent). The problem is that the wrong kind of emphasis is laid upon education. The demand to “go to school” is much higher than ever before, more and more graduates are pouring our each year, and like you rightfully said, with little or no knowledge applicable in real life, thus the wrong emphasis on education being laid. People just want to get a degree, irrespective of the means, a lot buy their way through, others glide through: cramming and dumping what the lecturers/teachers want teachers want during exams. In the end, intelligence is determined by who has the most connections or who’s able to cram and dump, and the people that suffer most are the creative ones. Its a shame really, but we can only hope for a better tomorrow I suppose.

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