ARE WE IDIOTS YET?
Nothing can ever match what one feels after completing the university – it is a fruit salad of emotions. Initially there is the feeling of accomplishment when you know you were able to make it to the end while many fell along the way. Coupled with that, there is a feeling of appreciation to the various individuals that were responsible for your being able to complete a four-year course in the university. It is simply an amazing feeling. Then the graduation day comes, and there is a feeling of regret mixed with a little disappointment. For looking up and seeing the Vice Chancellor on his feet and shaking the hands of all those first class students, all of sudden fills your mind with an absurd thought. The thought that suggests you could have been the one up there or the thought that reminds you that you are smarter than one of those guys and probably answered more questions in class than he/she did. Please! your best was what you put up and if you could, you would have been the one up there. Give yourself a break! Nevertheless, nothing matches the surge of emotions that hits you after the weight of university education is lifted off your shoulders.
After university, you literally feel unleashed. Just like a wild beast that has never been let out of its cage. Trust me, that is scary. For the world out there looks so big and full of already accomplished people who are more conversant with the terrain of the corporate world. Here you are, not particularly sure whether or not you are half-baked, in a world where the job vacancies available require a certain level of experience. Well, you will definitely feel stranded sometimes. The dilemma – whether to go back to redo the course you did all over again or to move into the corporate world. There is that feeling that makes you realize how unprepared or ill-equipped you are for the job market. Critically analyze the term ‘job market’. It means the corporate world is a market place, where customers(employers) are very rational and will only spend on products(potential employees) of high quality, versatile and fully prepared to meet the demands of their companies. First of all, the thought that I am a product means I am not solely responsible for how I turned out, though I played a considerable role in it. It simply means, my manufacturer should take full responsibility of how marketable I can be before he passes me through the ‘educational mill’ and labels me as a product of high quality.
Does the educational system take full responsibility of the graduates it churns out every year? Do educators feel the need to equip students with the necessary skills and not merely force students to memorize lecture notes? Well, certainly not. Those were rhetorical questions by the way. I thought this phenomenon was peculiar to this country, till I watched the movie ‘3 Idiots’. Apparently it is a worldwide phenomenon, because that movie was set in India. Using a student’s ability to cram lecture notes is really not the best way to determine how good he is. Education has to be more practical than theoretical. Mark Twain is noted to have said that ‘I have never let my schooling interfere with my education’. This is an amazing piece of thought. It totally deepens the dividing lines between ‘schooling’ and ‘education’. It makes it even more clear that most of us schooled and were not educated. I believe education has the ability to cause change in the society and empower the individual with necessary skills and abilities to make meaning out of life. Schooling brings about unemployment; education on the other hand makes one marketable on the job market. Hence, nowadays looking at the advertisement of certain privately owned universities in Ghana, they often say they provide a more practical educational system which churns out ‘employable graduates’. Employable graduates? In an ideal world, this term would be regarded as a tautology. Because, a graduate should be employable in every sense of the word. Therefore, the term ‘employable graduates’ implies that , there are graduates that cannot be employed or do not deserve employment. Then why are they called graduates in the first place? If we are to allude this to the market place scenario of the educational system, then the situation is similar to a company like Lever Brothers telling the general public that not all the close-up toothpastes on the market are good for human use. This will certainly compel consumers to ask the question, ‘then why did the company put them out on the market in the first place?’.
I believe everyone walking around with the tag ‘university graduate’ hanging proudly on his/her forehead should be employable. That is if our educational system is working properly. I would like to appeal to university students too, that while you are in school find something doing with your hands pertaining to your course of study. Start a business, start a blog and more importantly take vacation internships very seriously. For only by this will you receive practical knowledge of your field of study.