LET us quickly get the meaning of Education right. Schooling (going to school) does not guarantee getting educated; it only creates the condition that makes getting educated possible. Today, as in the past, there is so much schooling and so little education. One of the greatest problems of Nigerian education is that it never, from the onset, defined its function – why should a person be educated; for what purpose, and how should it be done? Having inherited a lingua franca (common language – English) from our colonial masters, and never rethinking how its restricting impacts could be minimised while the benefits of indigenous languages are boosted equally compounded the woes of an education that is, ab initio, neither problem conscious not solutions oriented.
Today, like Naiwu Osahon said, “there more ‘educated illiterates’ than ‘illiterates’ with a wrong sense of value.” Marcus Garvey said to be truly educated “is to be learned in all that is worthwhile knowing… to store away in your heads all that is needed to be a better person, relate properly with your fellow human beings and creator… be useful to yourself and the society.” If we align this with the popular concept of a sound mind in a sound body, and the principled education goal of knowledge, skills and character, we will find out how far those who went to school are from the goals, much else the many more who didn’t! One of the key goals of education is character – the capability to be well-behaved and make right choices at all times, whatever the dictate of the circumstances, be it poverty or any forms of trials and tribulations. Not even the acclaimed religious fervour (nay, hypocrisy) of the majority of Nigerians has been able to mitigate the universal display of lack of proper education by Nigerians in that key respect.
How does that impact democracy? Democracy cannot be faulted in its beautiful intentions and goals that the wishes of the majority must always carry the day. When it is an educated majority, democracy becomes the most beautiful form of government on earth. However, when it is a majority of poverty ridden, uneducated and mis-educated citizenry, democracy tends to become a disaster. Choices are still free, which is fair enough, but the consequences of woeful choices may be horrifying; and the weakness of majority government cast a dark shadow over its beauty.
Facundo Cabral, Argentinean Singer and Author, is widely quoted to have said, “my grandfather was a brave man, he was only afraid of idiots. I asked him why, and he answered: because there are too many of them, and by being a majority, they could even elect a President.” And it starts from even the political parties like Franz Kafka said, “One idiot is one idiot. Two idiots are two idiots. Ten thousand idiots are a political party.” Unwittingly, the weakness of democracy is “the majority.” No poverty and no adversity can blind a truly educated man to making the right choices that will most likely change his fortune for the better. Education arms a person with the confidence and courage to make such informed and right choices. Whenever the processes of democracy are so rigged to bastardise his or her choices, he or she knows that the first duty then is to combine in an organisation with others such as to right the wrongs of the processes.
Now that Nigeria finds itself with a system and a government that neither knows the meaning and purpose of education nor hold it in any esteem, and with majority lacking in right sense of value after decades of assaults from poverty, mis-education, ethnicity, religious bigotry, intolerance and extremism, where do THE MAJORITY begin their atonement for the attainment of a just, free and prosperous nation, which democracy should deliver? The first port of call in the democratic process is election of officials to run the government. There is still a choice to be made, however rigged, unfavourable and choice-less the choices may be! Short on education and character as Nigeria and Nigerians seem, there is still hope that hard times could force suffering people into a right sense of value. Five months down delicate and seemingly choiceless Nigerian line, the hope and prayers is that the choices made from local to national will still be for the better.