It is often a frustrating experience for me, living and operating in the Third World, particularly Africa, where globally celebrated standards and best practices in most fields of human endevour are sacrificed with brazen impunity on the sacrilegious altar of mediocrity, yet with rousing accolades of the majority.
My frustration stems from the fact that those who are mostly without globally acceptable rules of engagement are institution, whose lives should depend on same. These are institutions, which should not be able to define their existence without adherence to best practice and a value system, predicated on freedom, in all of its expressions and inevitable excesses.
The tragedy today is that these institutions, which are without requisite value system, are now saddled with the sacred responsibility of providing direction for young people, particularly as higher institutions of learning.
The greater tragedy is that their abnormality has become normal to their observers and customers, who register their young people with them. In fact, most observers are not aware of global standards. Therefore, they have no benchmark upon which to demand best practices. Even where by virtue of their exposure they are aware of the benchmark, they believe it cannot be insisted upon in the Third World. As far as they are concerned, this is the Third World and anything and everything should be allowed to go.
In the Third World, the hope for change is often dashed on the popular altar of assumptions, as there are no commitment to research and development. Therefore everyone seems to do what seems right in their unproven judgement. As it is with the jungle, where every entity defines their rules, stick to same and promote same as sacrosanct, riding on the ticket of the seemingly insurmountable ignorance and fear of the majority, so it is in the Third World.
There are no regulatory bodies, properly so-called in the jungle Where they seem to exist, they exist for the survival of the operators, who often claim to work for the interest of the people.
I, The Preacher, do not come today as a prophet of doom, but as a keen observer of my clime. Therefore, I shall turn my searchlight on the higher institutions of learning, particularly the private sector.
Having observed the operations of most of them and enjoyed interactions with their products, I have come to the irresistible conclusion that most of these institutions have never been in touch or have lost touch with the historical and pivotal essence behind the existence of a higher education, particularly the university.
It seems to me that the ultimate interest of most institutions of learning in not their products, their students but preserving the name of the institutions, even it means sacrificing the collective destiny of their students.
They run the institutions as gulags, where young people are permitted to be everything but themselves. The commitment to inculcate the right values system in the young people, submitting to professional processes, which options are clearly defined to be in the best interest of their students and the true essence of a university education has been replaced with fear, intimidation and scapegoatism, which are antithetical to everything institutions of learning represent.
Where an institution seeks to exercise dominion over the lives of her students, instead of authority, then there is oppression. Unfortunately this oppression is beautifully wrapped as a gift of discipline. It is only that the recipients of the so-called gifts are not pointed in the direction of correction and better behaviour. They do not by their interactions with the institutions and their disciplinary measures submit to values as none is presented before them. They are only subdued under the weight of oppression, which has become what the institutions of learning do with their authority.
Dominion over a person achieves suppression of the human will while authority achieves the activation of the human will and the dignity therefore to seek and fulfil the best of God-ordained human aspirations by providing quality direction, first by example, then by instruction. God did not give a man dominion over another. Whatever entity, like human, who is endowed by God with a will cannot be dominated, but can only be directed.
Those who manage to cope with oppression in most of our private Universities, embrace adaptation as an inevitable tool of survival, become green snakes under green grass, waiting patiently for the day of emancipation, which the university refers to as the day of graduation. Those who cannot cope break the rules and they are often shown the way out. The dismal outcome of the encounter of most young people with most private higher institutions in Nigeria is everything but genuine transformation predicated life skills.
Permit me to round up today by saying to both private and public universities that a university is created for matured and great minds to study and research. According to Wikipedia, a university is an institution of ‘higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in various academic disciplines. Universities typically provide undergraduate education and post graduate education.’ Besides, the university is the thinking arm of the modern society providing solutions for socio-political and technological challenges of the society. Thus the society is said to ‘benefit from the scholarly expertise generated from these institutions.’
By the foregoing submission, the university is a free community where the individuality and originality of those admitted into it must be allowed to flourish within clearly defined boundaries, which do not in any way negate the purpose for which the institution is established.
What is the definition of freedom and how does it help to shape the culture of a university life in truth and deed? What are the other inevitable ingredients that may help institutions of learning to better help their students and fulfil their mandate? I hope to shed lights on the foregoing as I share along the line of I’MDSSMARTTEESST™ principles.
Remember Enlightenment is Superior to Enforcement. I charge you to Think the CHILD…Think the FAMILY…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE.
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