Education: Between going to school and being successful


In this article, Oni Muhammad suggests that success in life goes beyond schooling.

The Nigerian society is one that values academic results. A graduate with distinction is considered to be mentally above his peers. He is being treated with specialty and accorded a bow.

Academic and intellectual sagacity are being determined and measured by the grade of school results. Many had however argued that academic result or more appropriately “school result”, does not determine the versatility of students or his level of knowledge and resourcefulness.

They argued further that many who had graduated with amiable results often could not defend such results in practicability. Many just cram for test and examination and then forget almost immediately after. That’s pretty true! But that’s definitely not general as they are just based on assumption and hear say.

Graduating with a good grade seems the only way to justify the health, wealth, time and other resources spent on a sojourn of four or more years. A good grade meant optimal usage of your resources while a bad grade ultimately meant the opposite.

The crave for good grades

But, why do many crave for a good grade? “Make me proud”, that’s your parents, “it increases your chance of getting a job”, “provides you an opportunity to be successful”, “your life would be a lot less stressful”. Does that mean the opposite for anyone with a bad result?

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School results however do not influence the successfulness of a person in the global society. This is because apart from the fact that many people who had graduated with a bad result “have gotten good job, were successful and their life less stressful”, even those that do not go to school have become more successful.

The stunning realization however dawned on us after countless nights in the library with caffeine laid drinks to chide away sleep and falling asleep among piles of books, memorizing equations and theories, facts and dates half of which were never remembered and half of which immediately forgotten after exams. Then, in a long queue of half-awake students, zombies, waiting to hand in an assignment, maybe that’s why they call it deadline.

And after years of mental suppression, frustration and oppression that characterised a typical Nigerian higher institution, many of such theories, formulas and equations never to be used later on, you realize you don’t need to go to school before you become successful. No, you don’t need to go to school before you become successful. You just need to be educated.

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Since going to school and aiming for good result is to become successful, it is pertinent to understand your motives and reassess your aims. If going to school meant to get a good job, earn a six to seven figure pay and live a successful life, well, help yourself.

But then, it would only be a contradiction, for you would only be helping others build their dreams because you don’t have one. This had become the order for the “brilliant minds” of our society today.

Education is beyond the classroom

One important factor of success in the Nigerian society is education. Our society has erroneously confined education to the four walls of the school. It is not all about regurgitating facts from a book or someone else’s opinion on a subject matter. If it were, why would a person, after years of mental suppression and frustration in a school, graduate to be certified unemployable or inexperience by the labour market?

On a lighter mood, Tinubu is educated in the art of political strategies and manipulation. David Beckham was educated in the art of defying several laws of physics with the leathered round ball, Colonel Harland Sanders was educated in the art of creating Kentucky Fried Chicken. I hope you got the ‘gist’? All are successful people.

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Being educated has nothing to do with going to school. Many people, despite having attended the four walled institution, became established and successful in a different field entirely, thereby underplaying the role of the school or their result in their endeavour.

Ironically, many who had graduated with the best of grades only end up as top echelon workers in establishment owned by those the school system had regarded as failure. They turn out to be job seekers fulfilling and helping to build other peoples dream. This had brought to question the credibility of “examinations” as a test for knowledge.

If “success” truly meant achieving what you intend to, well, I leave you to judge who is successful or more successful, Bill Gate who dropped out of school to establish Microsoft or his Executive Director who graduated from a “higher institution of learning” with a good grade only to help Bill Gate build Microsoft.

Oni Muhammad is a graduate of History at the University of Ibadan

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