By Cornelius Ndubuisi
The heat is on. Right now and every second, someone, somewhere, somehow is being infected or affected by the coronavirus. In the United States of America alone, close to 1,500,000 confirmed cases have been reported – with over 150,000 deaths. In Nigeria, the number of infections has crossed 40,000 – with over 850 deaths. And worldwide, sadly, over 650,000 people have lost their lives to the dastardly virus, and the number of infections, over 16,000,000, is staggering.
Of course, the brunt is being borne by everyone, directly or indirectly. Obvious among which include loss of many lives, loss of both the bread and its winners for many families, closure of schools with its implications, and a grounding of the local and global economy at varying impact-level. And as citizens look to their elected officials for help, the elected officials look to the laboratories and the possibility of safe and effective vaccines in the shortest possible time. Although, there are promises from clinical trials here and there, the end is yet to come within clear sight.
With a really troubled public health system, disillusioned governments, and an acutely ailing economy, people must now look inwards for help. With things gone out of hand, following an earlier mass disregard for the physical distancing guidelines and hygiene rules, it now falls on individuals to keep themselves from being infected and/or affected. With the current wanton loss of jobs, occasioned by the failure of companies to meet respective bottom lines no thanks to covid-19, individuals must now sort themselves out however they can. Or sink beneath these waves.
Right now, more than anything else, there is one thing individuals, especial the youth, can make recourse to in getting themselves out of the mess we’re in: Education. To say the least, it is at moments like this, when one’s very own survival is at stake that the quality and usefulness of one’s education is assessed, since it is the supreme goal of education to see us to more easily adapting ourselves to the changes and chances of the times. So to speak, education makes us functional enough to make meaningful contribution to society.
However, it is tragic to admit that the situation appears not to be so, as many a youth has bought into what I have taken leave to call the “two myths of education.” Needless to say that, the consequences of being infected by the two myths of education is dire, the very reason why the situation is critical, and may remain so, for many a person. These myths are:
- That schooling coincides with education
- That bagging certificates means being educated
In the face of the mess we are in, it has become necessary that the above untruths be dissected on the table of critical reason:
Schooling IS NOT Education
No doubt, much of education is received within the context of schooling, but it is dangerous to think that schooling coincides with education. Let’s have this fact in mind when relating schooling with education, which is that there are certain necessary and sufficient conditions to be met before a ‘schooled fellow’ can pass for an educated one. We indirectly allude to this fact whenever students are advised to open themselves up to the two-way traffic of ‘passing through school’ and ‘letting school pass through them.’
Suffice it, therefore, to say that ‘school’ connotes an assemblage of certain functional mechanisms interacting and cooperating together to deliver on the task of hewing the ‘educated person’ out of the student. These functional mechanisms would include but not limited to: a conducive environment, different from that of the home, street or marketplace (school is a place set apart for learning); a college of competent instructors and sound schoolfellows, who serve the social function, without which man is either beast or god; an ad rem curriculum, that is, one to reflect the learning outcome; a library to match; progressive education policies, one that serve to guide the general learning business; research and communication outfits, etc.
Anything short of the above components that make for an ideal schooling experience, wherein education can be imparted, is school improperly called. And judging from what we have around town, a good number of them can barely qualify for the title of school. And even where the above components are in place, schooling is still not equal to education, since the onus still lies on the student to make the most out of the entire setup.
So, when next you think furthering your education is by merely going higher on the rungs of the ladder of schooling, like going for post-graduate studies, be careful. We’re never automatically educated (education qua education) by merely schooling. No. We only are presented with the opportunity to embrace education; actually doing so is strictly a matter of choice.
Certificate IS NOT Education
In typical academic functions where citations are read, one would be thrilled by the so many certificates an academic is capable of bagging. The temptation is to immediately think of such an academic as educated, at least given the numerous schools attended, the varied disciplines dabbled into, and the many certificates bagged to show for them. The tendency to fall into this temptation is not unfounded, as that is what it ought to be were schooling to coincide with education.
However, the much we know about certificates instructs otherwise, and the reality of post-certificate exams goes further to cast a speck of doubt on their credibility. Experientially, the numbers of sold and bought certificates that have aired are too many to count. The numbers of forged ones are even more. Then, what do we make of bought and forged certificates via-a-vis being educated?
Funnily, academic certificates attest to worthiness of its recipients in character and in learning. The increasing number of criminals, corrupt public servants and a whole barrage of derelicts that throng the streets, each with a valid claim to one or more ‘educational’ certificates, tell us that brandishing of certificates as a claim to being educated can be a delusional thing to do.
One thing is certain right now, that there are no guarantees that one’s schooling or pack of certificates will save one. Of course, most of those now affected have valid claims to both quality schooling and enviable certificates, just that the pie simply can’t go round anymore, having been eaten up by the virus. For instance, the 12,000 jobs recently slashed by Boeing, the airplane manufacturer, were ones had by 12,000 people who had made it through the rigorous recruitment process. The big question: On what basis would those 12,000 layoffs renegotiate their places in the job market? It just has to be more than having gone to school. They just have to be better than showing up with a folder of certificates.
At the end of the day, it will all boil down to how they answer these two questions in very concrete terms: 1. Tell us about yourself? 2. What can you do for us?