Thursday, 17 October 2019

Getting it right in Education —by Princewill Odidi

Princewill Odidi 
17 October 2019 

A few days ago I was invited to GSU TV in downtown Atlanta. GSU is a radio and TV station owned and operated by Georgia State University. 

The studio is a fully functional TV station, they produce documentaries, short films and other public education programs. Private producers also rent and use the station. 

Students in the school who study Mass Communication or other forms of media studies use this station is like a lab for them. Throughout their four year studies in the institution, they read news, join production crews, learn film production first hand from some of the best hands in the industry and develop and feature short plays. 

The advantage here is that upon graduating, apart from having four years academic qualifications they come out with four years of job experiences from the studio. Now compare this to how our own students in mass communication are trained. 

They spend four good years doing course work and reading text books, sometimes their only opportunity at hands on training is a small internship they do where in most cases they learn nothing from the few TV and radio stations we have. 

This is just an expository in one department in a University. Government in our clime thinks funding education ends at paying salaries. 

Now how would you compare a Communications student from GSU and one coming from our own schools? If they are to compete in a job who would you hire? Who will be ready from day one to be a producer? 

Few months ago I read government budgeting almost 7 billion to buy cars for National Assembly members, can we have a country where these members can say let us sacrifice purchase of new cars, use the funds and fix our university laboratories? 

I read elsewhere that the Presidency budgets 1.5 billion to upgrade Presidential air fleets, can our President say just for one year, let me sacrifice and use commercial airlines like Tanzania President is doing and use that money to equip laboratories in our universities? Our budgetary allocations is selfish, greedy and anti development. Our leaders do not even care if the entire educational system collapses. 

Come down to state governments, go and check how much our governors spend for travels and security votes you will weep for our country. Teachers in primary schools have no chalk yet we budget billions for white elephant projects. The salary of a teacher would discourage some of our very best from returning to the classroom. No modern nation today, developed this way. 

If education is properly funded and lecturers are adequately paid and have funding to do research and travel for international conferences and see how other schools and education is advancing in other climes, it will reduce corruption in our ivory towers, it will bring back ethics to education. 

Nigeria should not be begging for money from other countries 60 years after independence, we have the human population smart enough to recreate wealth, we have sufficient natural resources to be a first world. As a nation we can get it right with the right leadership and political will. 

Some years ago when we graduated from University, all 19 of us from UNN that wrote GRE, a foreign admissions exams, we all scored above 320. Then we had no GRE learning centers close by, some of us then could not even afford the GRE text books, but because the university prepared us, we all passed. Education then had value. 

Today with all resources you hardly find a Nigerian graduate scoring any good grades in these exams. We may not understand the damage our political leadership is doing to the education sector, but twenty years from now you will be surprised even fellow African countries will not accept our bachelors degree for masters degree in their countries. 

A visit to the GSU TV last week sent fears as to our future as a nation. For my generation we got the best that Nigeria could offer, why are we intentionally handing over the worst to the present generation and what do we expect them to hand over to future generations? God save us!

Princewill Odidi is a social commentator writing from Atlanta

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