Dream sabotage: Tales of deprived students By Stephen Oyedemi

It is widespread in Nigeria to find hundreds into thousands of young people in our institutions of higher learning giving away years of their youth to activities and courses they are basically not passionate about. With Nigeria’s latest unemployment rate figures at 23.9%, youth population above 50% and an obvious population explosion assisted by high fertility rates, all coupled with high levels of failure in government policies and disposition, an average Nigerian cannot but feel his dreams are taking a nosedive even as corruption at all levels face us in some of the most confrontational manners.  

As you would agree with me, every action, disposition and belief is motivated by the political, social, cultural and material reality from it evolves, and by virtue of the intellectual setback and developmental sluggishness that today face our country, academic reverence have been given to some few “magnified” courses, programs and institutions, making our society largely undiversified. This has in a way led to a situation I refer to as “intellectual abysmal” for the youths.

It is therefore common to find a lot of students say such things as;”Why am I even in school?”, “I don’t enjoy what I’m into”, “Don’t know what I’m going to do after graduation”, “My field doesn’t sell in Nigeria”. Statements like these even come from people who have spent several years in the university. This however rumbles my stomach and makes me wonder why on earth someone would spend up to 5 years or more of his/her life studying something that doesn’t give him/her joy. This however tells of an intellectually poor society in which, to a large extent even  the career choices of the child is predetermined by parents and guidance thereby depriving the young child the joy of freely choosing what they want to be  and thereby sabotaging their very dream.

According to the words of the U.S poet and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson; “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”. This however leads to a mind bugling question; how can our country achieve diversity and greatness in the realm of human development if kids are made to grow up without enthusiasm having had their very childhood dream and originality crushed by several factors that everyday oppose them? Against all odds they say but the minimum enabling environment necessary for child development is scarcely found. Every field of human endeavor should therefore be respected for its very existence and contribution to the society; hereby making children who naturally find interest in them get the motivation and self-esteem they need to move on.

Coupled with incessant strikes and poor facilities, the sadistic disposition of many staffs of our public higher institutions however do more than de-motivate students, making real academic support and encouragement hardly found beyond the shores of our private institutions. The decay in the system is so endemic that one can only enter these institutions at a particular time and without knowledge of one’s graduation date.

In the light of the fact that the government has failed in effectively managing the public institutions, we are left to fortify our hopes and faith and according to the words of Prof. Wole Soyinka– set forth at dawn. Even as we fight for a better education system taking cognizance of the 10 million out of school children with whom we are surrounded, we should hold in our minds that government is not and has never being a good manager. We should therefore on the basis of these, advocate a more private driven economy which utilizes market based solutions in addressing poverty and unemployment which together with our education sector pose a threat to our collective future.

Stephen writes on the importance of getting students enthusiastic about their studies