What Manner of Education? 2
“My father taught me to work. He did not teach me to love it.” – ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Education teaches discipline. Discipline entails doing what is right because it is right even though we may not actually enjoy doing it. Discipline means controlling ourselves from within. It imposes sufficient inner checks on our natural instincts, which is why we are different from animals. An educated individual should be able to modify his behaviour to conform to the norms and values of the society in which he lives. The most easily noticeable evidence that most of us have received an aberrant version of education is our time culture. It is annoying and often embarrassing, when individuals who are respectable by reputation fail to keep to time for no good reason. It is disorderliness. In Benue and elsewhere in Nigeria, it has become a status symbol. The big man comes late as a mark of his position in the society. Unfortunately – and as a further proof of how poorly educated we really are – some of us admire this trend and even try to copy it! It’s not just madness; it is sickness of the kind that stands out a society in serious trouble.
What do we do when we seek a public service?
We come anytime we want and proceed straight to the counter, ignoring all who have been waiting on the queue. In the Trouble with Nigeria, Professor Chinua Achebe laments this scenario. He says, “Mr. B sees Mr. A ahead of him in the queue or in the traffic. He does not reason that Mr. A is there because he took the trouble to arrive early. He says instead: he is where I want to be; he must give way.” We go through this experience every day. It is difficult not to notice in the bank halls. We walk in and proceed arrogantly to the counter and induce the cashier with some money from our withdrawal and he/she attends to us at the expense of those on the queue, waiting and cursing the bank for not employing more cashiers or buying new computers.
First, it is a symbol of lack of education for the cashier to so attend to you. It is also a symbol of animalism for you to care nothing for those on the queue who have been there before you. Education teaches concern for others. It purges the individual of self-centeredness and selfishness. You are not educated if you cannot observe this simple code of conduct.
Education involves hard work. In Nigeria, people do not want to work. They just want money now now; sharp sharp. It is an attitudinal problem that also questions the nature of education we have received. We can’t keep the official working hours. We go to work late and close earlier than the closing hours. In between, we go for breaks that last far longer than allowed. We love to engage in idle talk when we have people waiting to be attended to. Even while attending to them, our attitude is impossible. We make it appear as if the citizen requiring our services has committed an offence by just wanting to be served. We give half and misleading information. We hide files and declare them “missing” until we are induced. It is not just corruption; it is also a mark of lack of education! We are sick and not educated if we indulge in these acts.
We may speak both the American and the Queen’s English with foreign accents. Our names may be preceded by long titles such as Chief, Dr. Barr. Prof. Mallam, Sheik, Hon. and completed by another chain of honors such as JP, OON, GCON, GCFR, etc. It doesn’t count. We must prove the quality of our education by allowing its values to govern the way we live our lives. In fact, the insatiable acquisition of chieftaincy titles and national honors left and right from one village to another is also indicative of an insecure individual, trying to emasculate his lack of confidence with high-sounding titles. It is a symptom of poor education because true education teaches moderation.
This culture of disorderliness is what we take to our attitudes towards the law. We have excellent laws; what we don’t have is the discipline to obey and enforce these laws. We know the way it should be. But we want it our own way; quick quick. An individual called me from Delta State the other week confessing that he had scored only 3 points in his IJMB programme but would love to read Medicine at the Benue State University. I asked if he knew the required points and he agreed – 6 points! Yet he insisted he wanted the admission and even wanted commissioning me to connect him to any university official who can do a deal. He would pay any amount to get the admission. He is too tired staying at home. That’s what we do. We cut corners to make our way to where we do not deserve to be. The chain continues and we are in fact, victims of ourselves; trapped in an inescapable web of inefficiency, internal rot and social deterioration. The trouble is with the education we have received.
What manner is it?