“Going to University is akin to having a passport, its up to you to decide where you want to go with it” #Rappy Random
How many of us are actually in careers related to the degrees we studied. Doctors, Lawyers and the likes excluded. I mean, if your lawyer tells you “I got my degree from the streets of hard knocks”, you are in some serious shit. I have a degree in Business and Marketing but my career is in Quality Assurance Mgt. (The writing is a side hustle till I reach those J.K Rawlings numbers)
Readers of Memoirs of a Young African will understand the significance of my degree, but I have on many occasions’ questioned the tangible benefits of me going to Uni. I was seriously disillusioned in the months after my graduation because a few weeks into applying for “graduate jobs” the realities of life hit my like a donkey kick. All my life, I had believed that Degree=Job; alas each Marketing job I wanted to apply for required “marketing experience”. I hit my lowest ebb when I saw a vacancy, which stated “NO GRADUATES”. I felt like I had been deceived all my life “this is not how it is supposed to be” I thought to myself. I mean I have a Bachelor’s of Arts (We Nigerians and our titles abi?) I spend another 18 miserable months working in retail before I got a job as an Admin officer. Don’t get me wrong; I am not in any way shape or form devaluing my degree. I worked damn hard for it and my parents worked and sacrificed for me to get it. It will forever be one of my greatest achievements.
“Kabir, I want you to study Medicine at University”
“But Dad, I studied Business Studies at College”
“It doesn’t matter son, its not hard, your uncles have done it”
Sound familiar! I had this conversation with Alhaji when applying for university 2000. I have had numerous conversations with people who have shared the same experience “You are going to study Medicine”!! “You are going to be an accountant”. The consensus is, Nigerian parents always want their children to study Medicine, Law, Engineering, and Accounting etc. The situation may be changing now, but in my time, there was pressure on my peers to study subjects, which our parents thought were significant/prestigious and would lead to a successful career. Art, Drama or Theatre was not subjects one dared presented to one’s parents as a degree option.
At the other end of the spectrum, the value I attach to receiving my degree and the time I spent at Uni increases every time I visit Nigeria. I have heard too many stories of 3 year degree programs taking 6-7 years to complete because of strikes, violence on campuses, financial difficulties etc. What is even more difficult to digest is the bleak job prospects facing graduates upon receiving their degrees. I will not put the experiences of graduates in Nigeria who have been unemployed for 5-6 years on par with difficulties faced by graduates’ in UK. Too many harrowing stories to share!! A prevalent trend is for graduates to study for their MA or 2nd degrees, sadly this will probably only increases of gaining employment by a slim margin. Even more worrying, is the prevailing perception or reality that a BA Degree from a University abroad is worth more than a Master’s from a Nigerian Public University? This is testament to the dire state of my/our nation. My parent’s generation left Nigeria to study abroad with the intention of returning to help build their nation. Now for many, obtaining a student visa is an opportunity to escape the country; sometimes for good. How many of us know somebody who keeps on studying just to get a visa extension.
Nigeria has within it the great minds needed to build a great nation, but they lack the tools to build with and the foundations for which to build upon!!!! KKB
I propose we that we need a “Philosophical Revolution “and/or a “Paradigm Shift” when it comes to education-in Nigeria and the Diaspora.*(My Oga at the top) I believe that each individual has a unique talents and abilities which isn’t necessarily academic or fits into the subjects I have alluded to above. The opportunities for vocational training and education should be considered for the development of the individual, the community and the nation. There are numerous examples of people who have been extremely successful in their fields without a University Degree- e.g. Richard Branson. Then there is ample evidence that a University Degree doesn’t necessarily equate to competence- Nigeria’s “Incumbent” being a prime example.
My time at University has helped to elevate and shape my outlook of the world and significantly contributed to the successes I have experienced in my life so far. Following on from the quote by #Rappy Random, i believe that education does not stop at University or begin in the classroom. It begins in the home and should continue until we choose to stop. Ultimately, it about what one does with the level of education he or she is able to attain that should determine success.
Looking back now, while I was in secondary school, my favourite subjects were English and History. I should have studied something along those lines at Uni, it took me 30 years to apply my natural talents. To show that its not too late to pursue one’s dreams, I have decided to go back to University to study for my degree in Creative Writing and get my MA in Migration and Diaspora studies. Does anybody have £12k they can lend me? 🙂
I would like to acknowledge two wonderful people whose tremendous support and friendship at University helped me to attain my BA Degree: Mary Iseghohi and John Odutuyo- THANK YOU!!!
*Debate coming soon
Till next time KKB Out
9th February 2015
Next blog post will be published on 23/02/2015- In Defense of Nelson Mandela…