I once wanted to write an essay with a detailed description of my dreams. Or rather a particular dream I had nurtured over the years. My dream was quite simple and at that time a bit realistic. I thought of how everyone seemed to want to travel out of the country and I assumed it was because of the culture and how far developed this “abroad” was. So if you wanted people to come to your country too, soak it in culture and get it developed as well. Except this time, do it with materials that exists in your country because let’s face it, importation is what’s killing us in Nigeria. Our actual resources, if properly invested in, do just fine maybe even better. We just had to dedicate time and research to them instead of working on someone else’s design project.
I thought I had everything sorted out and I would admit I was a dreamer. I grew up in a home where I was shielded from the cruelty of the world and even the “unfair” things I might have experienced in school were always taken care of when I got home. I don’t blame my parents, they wanted the best for me and wanted to keep the illusion that “as long as you were a good person, good things were coming”. So I watched a lot of Disney and would wake up in the morning saying shit like, “Dreams do come true”.
Let’s fast forward a bit. I am a 400level Chemical Engineering in a public Nigerian University and when I hear someone say anything like “dreams” without adding the appropriate suffix “suck” I feel like body slamming them. We live in NIGERIA people. Where dreams get crushed in the first year in the University and Lecturers thrive knowing that more than half the class didn’t pass the course and they’d be seeing the same set of frustrated eyes in their classroom the following year.
Which has got me thinking, how are we to make a country stronger and better if the people with the ideas, motivation, dreams and aspirations are constantly pumped into this form of a rehabilitation facility and passed as unproductive mindless zombies. A complete reverse of what education is meant to be.
I further conclude that Nigeria remains undeveloped not because we don’t have people that see a better future, or those who might have ways to make it better, but because these certain individuals Go To School.
I know I know, sounds extreme or uncalled for but unless you’ve actually had a dream you knew would have saved a lot of lives and watched how unrealistic it became with the information you got from school. Or you got so frustrated because you know you’re getting an outdated education. Or studied so hard for an exam and had an unfortunate incident of diarrhoea that day and not bothering to explain yourself because you know it didn’t make a difference; then my friend, you know nothing.
You should know that students in the year 2018 still get notes that were used to teach students in 1997 (if not older) and not typed notes. There are actual cases where you are mandated to copy these notes. We still plot graphs with pencil, sheets and broom sticks. Architecture and Engineering students practice drawing with a sheet of paper and pencils. All of which by now have been worked on with methods and software applications to make the practice easier so that problems of today can be solved with the time left. For some reason if you don’t suffer to get work done, then it’s not worth it. I don’t even know where this old theory came from.
Of recent I found out that there are students with lovely amazing talents, sketch artists, photographers, cinematographers, self taught illustrators, animators, software and sound engineers, dancers, singers, musicians, writers, poets and speakers all drowning their gifts while trying to get “white collar jobs”. Most don’t have time to build their skills because the Education is not only outdated but selfish. You find that to actually make it out with “flying colours”, you need to dedicate a hundred percent of your being; and it’s not even worth it. Despite this struggle students try to keep up with inconsistent power and water supply.
I’m not even going to blame the government because right now it’s obvious that THEY DON’T CARE. They don’t see that their one way ticket to a better Nigeria is in the school hostels fighting crammed spaces, bed bugs and mosquitoes, going to classes at night trying to study notes they might probably never use again, struggling with inadequate equipment during practical exercises to get at least an idea of why they are in school.
To those entrepreneurs and business representatives who believe there’s no going forward for Nigeria as a whole, you’re wrong. The game changers and dream chasers very much exist. They just go to school.
About the Author
Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa is a 400 level Chemical Engineering student in the University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria. She is a spoken word poet and engages in the production of short films. She specifies in prose poetry on life, relationship and social acceptance. Egbekhuwa encourages to be open minded about issues arising especially in Nigeria, and though she loves the world of facts, formulas and figures in Engineering, she is yet to see what the world of words has in store for her.