Ultimately, the measure of a man’s success is not in his moments of comfort; but rather in how he weathers challenges and controversies. There are certain circumstances that make one go beyond the conventional dictates of life in order to be successful. In Nigeria, formal education is regarded as a foremost criterion for success. As a result of this somewhat erroneous notion, many are caught on an exhaustive trail of compulsory learning. So deep is the conviction that the government in several states have made effort to contribute to basic education.
The desperation is even more aggravated at the tertiary level. Parents and/or guardians engage various means to ensure that their children/wards get admission into universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. Consequently, students are often pushed to do unimaginable and risky things just to please their parents and loved ones. Yet, can we truly say that education is the true measure of a man’s success? This is a very tricky question, isn’t it? Truly, formal education is very important and cannot be underestimated, it does not; however, seem to hold the key to determine an individual’s success in life. While it is only one of the numerous guideposts that can help a person reach their zenith, it is definitely not a lifelong guarantee to achieve and sustain greatness.
Over time, there have been unpleasant cases where job interviewers complained that some applicants with first class or second class upper in universities are not fit to be engaged in the corporate world. Surely, this is evidence to support the assertion that learning cannot be limited to what is gained within the four walls of an institution. While formal education enriches an individual with knowledge, informal education nourishes an individual with practical societal experiences of how to succeed in that society. People seem to have neglected the roles other agents of socialisation play in developing individual. These other agents including peer groups, religious institutions, mass media and the family provide additional information on sociocultural systems. They instill extensive traits of dedication, hard work, teamwork, concentration and business insight in individuals within their circle. These are values that the classroom would teach people at limited level only.
Also importantly, we seem to be underestimating the value of vocational studies, some of which may not even require lengthy formal processes to gain expertise. For example, Nike Davies Okundaye did not need to go to school to become one of the most sought after textile and art designers. Yet, in spite of her “illiteracy”, she now lectures students of arts in various schools around the world. Shall we also consider formally educated Nigerians such as Seyi Olofijana, Vincent Enyeama, late Samuel Okwaraji, Segun Odegbami (football), Falz and Nateo C (music), who have excelled in fields outside their university major? The education they received aided their career path, not limiting them to search only for “lucrative” desk jobs at offices. By and by, classroom knowledge equips a person with basic problem solving skills. This is why it is encouraged that those in vocations such as the arts, entertainment, technical activities gain some form of formal education. This will help to resolve basic problems in their careers.
To drive home the point, remember that despite an over bloated civil service structure, the national unemployment rate remains alarming. Besides, what would we do without the services services of our mechanics, drivers, and chefs amongst the rest if they decided not to learn a vocation outside what was being taught in classrooms? Had they chosen to pursue elusive white collar careers, would we now be celebrating the likes of Pasuma Wonder, Wande Coal, Tuface Idibia, Victor Ikpeba Joseph Yobo, Mikel Obi, Ahmed Musa, Vector, Wizkid, and Davido? Therefore, the Nigerian youth has to take up the initiative and acquire balance between formal education and vocational training in other to succeed in the society. Both aspects of education are important to the formation of an individual and to abandon one for the other would simply be counter-productive.