Until it closed shop about two years ago, ‘Amaka kitchen’ was undoubtedly the best restaurant in the Aguda, Surulere area of Lagos State.
My friends and I usually drove about 30 minutes to the restaurant from our neighbourhood, and most times, we had to buy a bucket of patience before we were attended to owing to the huge patronage the restaurant enjoyed.
The owner of the restaurant was in his early forties when I first met him. He had a stomach that intimidated his customers and at the same time amused them. With his thick Ibo accent, he talked like someone who barely passed his school certificate, yet he had about eight staff on his payroll.
Occasionally, when we went there to soothe the hunger causing an uprise in our stomach, I would follow his every move and sometimes when he entered the kitchen, I saw how he easily took charge; his voice echoing commands as he orchestrated the activities there. I never bothered to ask him how he learnt to cook so well but I was pretty convinced he had honed the craft in his teens. What if he didn’t take cooking seriously while growing up? Maybe he did not have a formal education I thought, but if he did, would he still be this successful?
Well, maybe my thoughts drifted this path because the education system in our country has always been flawed. Students have always been placed in a restricted environment and taught a vast number of courses- most of which are theory based. This type of system limits the students to the idea of working hard in school, graduating and then hunting for jobs.
Our society has contributed immensely to this and is dumping so much baggage on us that is beginning to toil with our sanity. It has made us believe that Doctors and Engineers are the only happy and successful people in the world. But here’s the twist. Academic certificates no longer represent the gateway to financial freedom as it once did. Else, all graduates would be cruising nice rides and living a comfortable life after successfully navigating so many years in the university. For many Nigerians, the quest to get a degree result are for two main reasons; status and jobsecurity. The latter is almost a non-guarantee, and the former is ephemeral at its best.
I often ask myself if graduation from a tertiary institution should form a basis of definition for success. At the moment, it seems the best it does is to give a facelift and some sort of status- a debate that’ll pointlessly rage in other articles to come. However, a deeper look at the situation in the country shows that somehow, varsity education is essentially a disruption for persons whose core talents isn’t in academics; and one that rubs most persons of the years that they might have invested in developing themselves in areas of their gifting.
You’ll all have your own list of people who neither had tertiary education nor obtained these ‘certificates’ but have become a success from their talents. And then again, I’m forced to say that the Nigerian education system is wrongly structured. I attended the prestigious Federal University of Technology Owerri, and passing if the Joint Admission Matriculation Board Examination, as it was called then, was truly a prerequisite to entrance into the varsity, then many who had no business being in school shouldn’t really have found themselves there. My friend, one of the finest producers I’ve come across, should have spent more time developing himself in the studio than struggle through our five years in the glory land. In truth, attempting any sort of transformation on his IQ to make him understand the differentiations and integrations in MTH 201 and the metabolic pathways in BCH 301 might be a miracle to rival Jesus turning water into wine and will be as futile as asking a hurricane not to flatten trees.
Not until the recent introduction of CBT, the UTME was just a shame to call an exam as it was unfortunately tainted by malpractices. That is not to say these misconducts have abated, but efforts are now being made to sieve the chaff from the wheat.
It’s saddening to note that most people who struggled to get into higher institutions of learning, did not they realise that the ingredients for success in life are same for all; passion, hard work and focus.
This quest for certification has contributed to laxity amongst many youths and dwarfed their abilities to think because of a mindset which mirrors a white collar job awaiting them or at times, the hulking, impermeable barrier called ‘’ego’’ that prevents them from venturing into a business because they are ‘graduates’ and the society would laugh at them.
A basic education that teaches how to read and write correctly is enough to push one through life if one can effectively hone his/her talents. This seeming acceptance by our society that certification is paramount for success has, and is killing many talents.
Now, I think the duty to debunk falls these lies falls on each of us who believes that our children must be fed with such misinformation. With the soaring levels of unemployment and the reward for talent today, it is only prudent that the mentality changes. We should understand each individual’s language and support them to excel in their own tracks. Rather than stating and believing emphatically the superiority of one over another, our position should be that of ‘choice’ for the persons concerned