It was with much ecstasy that Akwa Ibom people gathered at the expanse hall of the Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, Udoudoma Avenue to deliberate on the successes, failures and expectations of education in Akwa Ibom state. The two days event saw academic gurus, intellectuals, clergymen and stakeholders in the education sector brainstorming on how to improve on the standard of education in the state and solidify the future of this great state, nation and the world.
The convocation of the first ever Akwa Ibom education summit and exhibition by governor Udom Emmanuel is predicated on his passion for education as a potent tool for development as well as the consciousness that majority of Akwa Ibom sons and daughters can only be transformed through current trends in education.
The Nigerian polity is in crisis and has been in crisis for decades now -encapsulated in the nation’s development deficit over the years. The narrative is that various development plans and ideas put together have failed in resolving the incubus crisis that has bedridden her economic growth and progress. This misdirection is not of Nigeria’s inability to utilize education as a veritable means in healing the crisis but of the type of education needed to deflect the crisis.
The summit was designed to answer a very pertinent question. As Nigeria’s educational system in the last decade improved with the licensing of hundreds of tertiary institutions by the National Universities Commission, NUC and the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE? The answer to that question is obviously in the negative because an on-the-spot-assessment will demonstrate that the quality and content of the education chunked out from our institutions have not been directly targeted to solve Nigeria’s teething problems in a rapidly developing and challenging world.
The evidence of this self-adduced misplacement lies on the number of graduates seeking jobs on our streets. This is because of the dearth in ideas by the agencies responsible for quality control of academics and our institutions which are ill-equipped with the prerequisite know-how to fine tune our students in line with the challenges of individualism and entrepreneurship.
One of the reasons why the Nigerian State is seen to have remained in perpetual crisis is the continuous dependent on conventional education which is the overrated classroom practice devoid of self examination cum intellectual capacity that can drive youths to stardom in this era of globalization. The 6-3-3-4 system used over the years in Nigeria negates the spirit of the first kind of education – an all-encompassing one that drives the mind of an individual to realize himself, be himself, realize God and achieve success.
The focus of education should be the realization of oneself in line with the great wisdom of Socrates and the Athenian injunction of “Man know thyself”. It is one that should be properly conceived, constructed and executed to equip the man. This self realization is in line with the “Dakkada” philosophy of the Akwa Ibom State Government to invoke people’s consciousness of themselves, their abilities and environment in order to rise up to the faith of greatness.
The faith of greatness lays in entrepreneurship which governor Udom Emmanuel diagnosed during the 2-day summit. It is one that has seen the world’s best minds who did not have formal education strive hard to remain on top and are celebrated globally. A rundown of few top entrepreneurs in the world who made millions without any college degree have Abraham Lincoln; a lawyer, U.S. president, who finished one year of formal schooling, self-taught himself trigonometry, and read Blackstone on his own to become a lawyer, so also is Charles Culpeper, owner and CEO of Coca Cola who dropped out of high school; Frederick Henry Royce, auto designer, multimillionaire and co-founder of Rolls-Royce, and Henry Ford, billionaire founder of Ford Motor Company both dropped out of elementary school, while Larry Ellison, billionaire co-founder of Oracle Software Company and Michael Dell, billionaire founder of Dell Computers, both drop outs made it without any formal education. In today’s Nigeria, where crave for makeup has gathered momentum, this piece will not do justice to the womenfolk of this great nation and state if the name Mary Kay Ash, who is the founder of Mary Kay Inc is not mentioned in the list of successful entrepreneurs who did not attend college.
My preposition here is not to condemn formal education in its entirety but to emphasize on the enormous benefit that the summit has placed on the feet of Akwa Ibom sons and daughters and to spur others to advantages of possessing these certificates to greatness unlike those renown entrepreneurs who did not acquire basic education but were only confronted with the choice of self realization.
From the discourse at the summit, an important factor was deducted: that Akwa Ibom state must as a matter of urgency redesign her curriculum to be content based with emphasis on entrepreneurship development to make her graduates employers of labour which is the drive of the 21st century education in all the emerging economies of the world. But this is hardly possible since the federal government is saddled with the responsibility of regulating higher education in Nigeria.
Thus, education stakeholders should work to abolish the practice where Federal Government directly control and regulate our educational system. States should be allowed to fashion their own educational policies to suit their prevalent economic plans. Since there is a popular call for the restructuring of Nigeria, the country should use the opportunity to restructure her educational policy to suit contemporary demands just like governor Udom has advocated for Akwa Ibom State.
Akwa Ibom state government led by Udom Emmanuel believes in education that is properly conceived and executed, that is why his commitment to education is unparallel. His investment in education is a reflection that education is the portmanteau of limitless possibilities which is why he convened the summit so that Akwa Ibom people would brainstorm on avenues to reposition the state’s education.
Be mindful that governor Udom is already championing solid education in the state. He is committed to the free and compulsory education programme of every school age resident in the state hence he undertook massive rehabilitation and reconstruction of school blocks, providing science and laboratory equipment; constructed hostels; supplied desks and benches to schools in the 31 local government of Akwa Ibom state; set up ICT laboratories in some public and private schools; recruited teaching and non teaching staff in tertiary institutions in the state; constructed internal roads and built infrastructure in these institutions and ensured the training of principals and teachers on how to cope with the challenges of teaching methods in the 21st century.
All these were prompted because governor Udom believe that education is a tool which when properly fashioned can advance the attainment of societal and individual goals to help eradicate the alarming societal indulgence in Nigeria of: of wealth without work, commerce without ethics, gratification without conscience and politics without principles.
Udom’s policy on education is therefore found in the premise of the ageless comprehension and understanding that tutors us on world distinctive changeless feature that if Henry Ford who, without any elementary education can found Ford Motor Company successfully, then our Akpans, Ekaettes and Uduakobongs with a university degree and skill can proffer solutions to some of Nigeria’s pressing and immediate problems.
Governor Udom has used the opportunity that the summit offered to challenge education stakeholders. They should endeavour to put his ideas to immediate use because attaining greatness comes with a prize of sacrifice.
Dr. Tom FredFish is a public affairs analyst_