On ASUU, students and our educational quagmire

September 5, 2017 Africa , Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Doug Linstedt photo



Prince Charles Dickson


The kind of debates we had then or the quotations you have to search for in the library just to speak at a SRC meeting or congress when there was no google o! O su mi o – Wale Fatade


The current ASUU industrial action enters its third week, and we all know the drill. And for patriotic minds we are left again asking what is wrong, is it the teacher, student, curriculum, infrastructure, the English premier league…and other foreign soccer leagues.

We know that there is a dearth of basic instructional materials and infrastructure, poor remuneration of teachers, among other social factors that are facing particular public schools in the country.

Also as a teacher I have seen countless University students continue to exhibit shallow knowledge of the subject matter of their respective courses, poor command of the use of English language, poor knowledge of examination techniques, as well as a disregard for correct interpretation of questions before attempting them.

I am not an expert in math, but I see students that lack requisite mathematical and manipulative skills for subjects involving calculations, while handwriting of some are illegible and their answer scripts are full of spelling errors.

The condition is made unbecoming as students try to cut corners by engaging in various forms of examination malpractice in order to obtain marks, and this is done with parents and teachers as accomplices


In 1968 Tai Solarin, writing in the old Daily Times under the title, ‘THE EDUCATION WE WANT MUST HAVE TECHNICAL BIAS” said “A good many of us spat on the education we had yesterday, and of course what passes for education today. And there is, certainly, a stratum of our society that looks back, nostalgically, at the quality of yesterday’s education.”

How many of us today can argue that this is not the truth, even the generation that had its education in 1980 now looks back with nostalgia.

Our educational system today only sharpens the head to near pin end quality, but also makes the possessor’s limb atrophied by long disuse. Our education is money centered. It is an education, which goads the possessor asking, “What can my country do for me?” not as J. F. Kennedy requests immortally, “what can I do for my country?”

In 2017 we are left to define the quality of education we want for tomorrow when our peers have gone far in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, neighbouring Ghana having even refused to wait for us. To chart how to tread to win through we now send our kids anywhere so far it is outside the country, the education better, be it Iraq or Zimbabwe.

Solarin had asked that we bring in functionality into our education. He said that “There is, I think only one significant thing we want in our education for tomorrow-FUNCTION. That we arm our children with functional education.” However today the education is not functional, we have unemployable graduates, my words, and my apologies, totally useless school leavers, because we care less about the structure and systems.


While Tai anchored his stand on State owned schools as an atheist, I advocate the government’s participation as matter of social contract and responsibility to the people. That way we could boast an education that ‘LIVES’.

Do we have an education in which a possessor wants to elevate the less privileged that surge him round; the answer is no. Today what is the value of the education given to a young man who lives or is doing his mandatory service year in a guinea worm infested area and yet is incapable of causing a revolution in the lives of the villagers by transforming their drinking water into healthy supply? Today every graduate desires Shell, Chevron, MTN, GTBank, etc.

Please what is the use of education given in physics to a young girl when the lights go out, she does not know what to do to get light again. In Nigerian education, how many graduates can carry aloft an oasis of light, very few because the education is short on quality and is therefore poor. What the Federal Government wants out of the system is what it would get, if it cares less about teachers, infrastructure, curriculum, and the students, it would get what is currently on sale.

We are of the opinion that our education should be one that gives the 3-Rs Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic. During the formative years, our kids should be made to know that they are members of a society to which they owe so much, not the present Tokunbo arrangement, they must be initiated into all the faculties of operations carried out by adults only that sadly and unfortunately the operations of this generation is corruption.

Today how many young persons want to go home and at the beginning of the year cut the bush in readiness for the new year’s planting; making of garri or pounding the yam or preparing the ‘ewedu’ soup. If these children do not participate how can they be integrated into the society, if all the values they see are big cars, big mansions, how they integrate should not be surprising.


In an essay on the National anthem I deplored a situation where kids could no longer recite the nation’s national songs, apart from its antedent ills, are these children taught to sing or compose songs, folk songs Solarin sang during his time are still being sang without being hardly enriched. In our secondary schools boys should not only cultivate farms communally but also individual boys should during their last years in school own plots which they should run in the modern way of rotation farming, getting dirty at the farm and yet appearing clean in the classroom.

The only minus to the above is that today agricultural science is a theoretical subject and schools do not even have farms anymore, the University of Agriculture takes more students for Law than Agricultural Extension courses.

The Boarding system, which was the best, is gradually fading or negatively modernized, it was where we learnt to queue up, collect our food, sit down at prescribed tables and organize the cleaning of those tables; washing up by all who partook of the food.

However today as ASUU continues its ritual of government negotiation, one wonders where are the students who should be leading the charge, where is NANS…

Is the education being given to our children today capable of giving us a newer and nobler Nigeria, is the continuous killing of our educational systems deliberate, is any effort being made to change the status quo, do we really care, or we are safe politicizing the entire structure; whether it is the removal of history or the addition of faith based subjects, or the abysmal reduction of university entry score. The naked dance continues, but for how long—Only time will tell.






Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.