The certificate saga involving Nigerian president has been finally laid to rest after the Examination body gave the embattled president an attestation of his result. We can also recall that it was still a certificate related concern that led to the resignation of Mrs. Kemi Adeosun as the Finance Minister earlier this year, when the news came that her NYSC certificate was a fake. Rather than look at performance we focus on the paper.
In Nigeria, we are certificate focused rather than the knowledge that results in the issuance of the certificates. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a certificate as “a document certifying (to attest authoritatively) that one has fulfilled the requirements of and may practice in a field.” Any knowledge that is acquired which does not become a skill is useless. Every career or academic certificates is issued after a course attended or after an examination to test the participants if they actually understood the training.
The most important aspect of any course or training is the knowledge you intend to gain and the relevance to what you intend to do with it. In Nigeria, the knowledge is secondary, what they are after is the certificate rather than the knowledge. In our tertiary institutions, a lot of students do not attend lectures or take parts in school activities. They know that at the end of the semester, they will take an examination which through monetary exchange or some other fraudulent means they will pass. At the end of the course, they are awarded a certificate with a nice grade.
Nigerian certificates are just papers without knowledge. It has become so evident in the social media where you see how shallow how graduates have become when they discuss on the different platforms. It is a pity to say that Nigerian graduates are not employable.
In the developed nations, they change the way they study. It is more of a practical based method of training than theoretical one. The aim is to know what you can offer and you are tested on practical knowledge. You must be fully involved in the practical classes to know what it is all about. You cannot avoid practical based method of teaching.
In Nigeria, 90% of our training is still based on theories that have become irrelevant. The bodies responsible for overhauling the system are doing nothing. For example, in Estate Management students are made to take a computer course FORTRAN 77 which is an outdated language. New courses that are practical based should be used to replace the outdated ones. In Nigeria, we have very few practical professors; the rest are obsolete. In this modern time, some professors cannot use a computer. Some do not have emails. How many Nigerian Professors have invented something new or postulated a theory that has helped the country achieve something unique?
I have seen and interacted with great minds that do not have fantastic certificates in fields that we have professors who have nothing to offer other than their long gowns and boxes of dusty certificates from conferences they have attended. In companies, the moment you announce a training the first question is “Will there be a certificate?” and if the answer is negative, nobody is interested. A lot of employees are not ready for Capacity Building but Certificate Acquisition. They want the best jobs but lack the applicable skills and then they shout “No Jobs”.
The only sector that you cannot bypass using the knowledge acquired is the Health sector. The other sectors are just struggling. Every Nigerian graduate that leaves school wants a white collar job in a section that is alien to him. For example, you will see an Electrical –Electronics Engineering graduate applying for a bank teller position. Why can’t he use his engineering knowledge or the fantastic project he defended to create a job for himself?
Photo: Gitanjali Rao, 12, Tethys founder. Tethys is a device for testing Lead in water. Tethys was a school project.
It is high time we start to change our orientation from the fact that certificate is not the recipe to excel but the knowledge acquired. The tertiary institutions should start a massive overhauling of the different courses and introduce a more practical base method of training rather than flogging dead theoretical horses.
Employers should focus on employing those who have something to offer and not those with empty brains but magnificent grades and certificates. The moment companies start moving their focus from certificates to show us what you can do; there will be improvement in our business world.