The first to be examined here is how intelligence and capability is commonly evaluated in this culture. Nigeria happens to be one of the countries where too much importance still gets placed on university degrees and certificates and many times at the expense of true competencies. These academic certificates and degrees are often over-rated and blindly used as the singular yardstick to measure intelligence and suitability for employment (as an example).
Consequently, this has the devastating effect of encouraging students to focus primarily on just obtaining certificates without taking the time and making the effort to develop the necessary skill sets, competencies and core expertise that would position and enable them to create substantial value in the work place and life in general. Since just having a certificate is the popularly favoured, major requirement for securing a job, students often subscribe to doing only what is required or even less, to get by and obtain this ‘glorified sheet of paper’. This is one reason that cramming to pass exams is the most common approach to academics adopted by students in Nigerian institutions. As a result, hardly does any real and valuable learning take place and many students graduate from these higher institutions without understanding even the basic principles of their disciplines. They, therefore find it hard to apply such in real life situations.
Another factor which is quite similar to the above is the way education itself is understood and structured in Nigeria. It is quite unfortunate that many of our universities are moulded to be places where students are taught what to think and not how to think. Individual and independent creative thoughts are rarely encouraged and are even subdued in some cases. This goes on to affect the students later in life when they are faced with real life situations where they should engage their critical thinking & problem solving abilities which unfortunately never got developed in school. Fatal cases of poor performance and utter disappointment arising from lack of such basic analytical & problem solving skills have led many disgusted employers, some stake holders in education and observers to stereotypically describe Nigerian graduates as ‘unemployable’ which although far-fetched, sadly has some elements of truth to it.
In view of the above, and a thoughtful observation I once came across by John Taylo Gatto(a renown author and former New York state teacher of the year) that “it’s impossible for education and schooling to be the same thing”, it could be said that many Nigerian graduates are churned out within a culture and system in which they often get suitably schooled but most times lousily educated.