I hear it every day. The Bachelor’s degree has become redundant. It is now as common as the secondary school certificate, everybody has it.
To be anything in the Nigerian workforce you need a Master’s degree or two: one in Business or Project Management and another in your field of study. If you can do it abroad, better.
When I was younger, my parents wanted me to be a doctor. I didn’t want to be a doctor. So I promised myself that I would get a PhD just so I’ll have the Dr attached to my name and make my parents proud. If only life was so straightforward.
I find that as I approach my thirtieth birthday, I am the only one of my friends who doesn’t have, and is not interested in getting another degree. The reason is simple. I do not like school. Nursery, primary and secondary school were fine. We were actually being taught stuff (not all of it useful but a great foundation). Still, I am a product of our ‘cram and pass’ system; I made it through university mainly on short term memory. Added to the fact that I studied a course I had no business studying and was taught with a curriculum from fifty years ago, university was just ‘make e no be like say we no go’ at the end of the day. The lessons that guide me now I learnt in my extra (6th) year and it was not even from school.
So, why should I go back for a Master’s degree?
My boss was teasing me a while back that it is mouth I used to say I studied engineering, there’s no proof. True. I haven’t collected my certificate, more than six years on; I’ve never needed it. The jobs I’ve held have been tied to my skill set and not my book knowledge (not like I remember any of it). So why should I go back to school? What do I need to prove? What do I need another degree to say? That I know book?
If I believed that I would actually learn something from going back to school, I would. Most of the people I know that went on to do their Master’s cried almost all through, from one wahala to another: a programme that should take 18months will run for 3/4 years and you’re paying school fees all the while. Yet they stuck to it. I don’t have that kind of longsufferingness.
I’m the first to tell my younger friends in University who want to drop out of school not to. More and more of them are finding that what they’re being taught in school is not equipping them for anything. They’re using the internet to educate themselves and realising that most of their lecturers haven’t picked up a book published in the last 25 years. As bad as it is, I still believe the Bachelor’s degree is the basic currency. The experience and networks gotten in 4/5 years in school will come in handy later in life. After that you’re on your own.
I have paid to attend trainings where I didn’t get any certificate. I am an information junkie. I love to learn. I’m a very DIY, hands-on person. I enjoy workshops. There are a few executive courses that I would enjoy taking but they’re ‘executive’. I haven’t gotten to the stage where I can shell out N2m for a 4 week course.
The Nigerian educational system sucks. And it’s progressively getting worse. I really hope this not-so-new-anymore government turns its lenses in that direction.
In the meantime though, let me keep doing osusu for executive programme.
Read Onyeka Nwelue’s related piece here