1 Jan 2013

The Conclusion

I can attempt to go on and on, highlighting and discussing elements of our culture that not only stifle effective education & learning but that also negatively affect the intelligence, problem solving skills and creativity of many Nigerians.

A number of these elements such as the Nigerian perception of respect, our attitude towards curiosity, our yardsticks for measuring intelligence, the structure of our formal education, excessive emphasis on certificates, gender inequality and so on have already been discussed in the previous parts.
Others elements include our near disregard for excellence & creativity which is widely celebrated in the western culture, our definition of success, our approach to religion and on and on.  I believe this series would stir up some more thoughts on the connection between our culture, education and our future, as many people especially those trained in this system who are objective enough will be able to identify with some of these issues.

Like many other people, I’ve had firsthand experiences that buttress many of the already discussed points, I’ve been in classes where students get awfully insulted and embarrassed for requesting clarifications regarding unclear concepts, I’ve seen cases of victimization by lecturers simply because a student chooses to explore his natural interests through activities such as student leadership on campus or some other positive, though unconventional involvement; the kind that actually attracts credit in other environments.

These issues are real but the effects are more real and very costly although sometimes ignored. The pertinent question thus becomes: do we leave our educational system to continually suffer these effects?

These cultural issues indirectly affect the growth of the nation because improper education only breeds mediocre talents and mediocre talents translate to an inefficient workforce, languid institutions and a nation that is simply, -without mincing words-, backward!

Of course, not all elements of the Nigerian culture are bad in themselves and there are a number of them that are great but in situations where some of this cultural ‘norms’ stifle our growth and development as a people, we simply need to review them, acknowledge the need for change and work relentlessly to bring about that needed change.

After going through the introductory part of this series, someone made a reference to the quote by Lee Kuan Yew that “culture is destiny” and asked that: “if culture is destiny, are we (Nigerians) not doomed?” to which I responded that: (No!) we’re not, because we can change our destiny if we change our culture. I strongly believe that we can successfully recreate our own future if we embrace positives changes to the downsides of our culture.

For instance, in order to address some of the highlighted issues, we need to adopt a culture that encourages curiosity driven life in children and adults, we need to condition ourselves to view respect differently, embrace more openness and bridge the wide gap that exists across generations for better interaction, communication and collaboration, we should also work to eliminate gender inequality and learn not only to recognise but also celebrate true genius, creativity and talent in order to inspire more of such. In addition, we also need to understand that certificates are not ends in themselves, work more to develop core competencies and harness the power of technology etc.

The above and many more are the cultural values that we need to embody as individuals, embrace as a people across our various institutions and propagate to the coming generations in order to equip ourselves-through formal/informal education and progressive learning-for the worthy course of delivering a befitting and enviable future for our Nation Nigeria.

by Damola

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