When I spoke to a group of people about Re-engineering our curriculum. A good number of people did not understand but the reason I said that, is the same reason you can easily differentiate an ‘educated professional’ from a ‘non- educated professional’.
Permit me to do a little distinction between these two;
Anyone can pick up anything to read or study. It is even easier in this technological age, as anyone can ‘Google it’, but does that really make that person an educated professional in that field?
Take for example one can read on ‘how to do surgery’ but the act of doing the surgery well is the real deal. So, the one who can do the surgery is able to get the knowledge and apply it and as a matter of fact, that is the educated professional.
Therefore if you studied to be a surgeon and you cannot do the Surgery, then you are not different from any other person who picks up a book to read about ‘how to do surgery’ but cannot do the surgery . That is what I call the uneducated professional and the one who is able to do it, is the educated professional. This same analogy or example is also true for most other professional fields like engineering etc
Therefore, the knowledge that one has and cannot apply is not worth wasting years for. It is so painful that in the country where I come from, we have majority of our graduates who are uneducated professionals not because they chose to be, as most of them are intelligent but the curriculum available allows them to ‘study and pour’, with little or no regards for usage and application to the real world. This must change if we want the future of this great country to change drastically for good as the quality of a nation is as good as the quality of her professionals .
With this Re-engineering of our Curriculum, am not talking about the few who already got it figured out from the womb or those who were properly guided and funded with great opportunities to get it right. Oh No! am talking about a structure that takes care of the majority who are vulnerable, am talking about a situation where everyone who comes out from a University in the Country as a professional with at least a 3rd class, can beat their chest to say anywhere in the world for instance that ‘I am an Engineer’ and anyone who tries him or her will be convinced he is actually what he/she says he/she is .
Even before such a time, the engineer is already designing and innovating things unimaginable and creating solutions to local and international challenges related to his or her field or cooperating with other professionals in other fields for the common good of humanity.
The painful part in all this, is that most students at that level do not know ,see or are consciously aware of the future impact and work-ability of what they are being fed . All they know is to listen to the lecturer, study hard and pass an examination.
For the ones who are already professionals in the field and the lecturers who teach them ,who already know the utilisation and application ineffectiveness of what they do,the impact errors of what they fail to do, who says they cannot champion a course in this direction, rather than making unrealistic demands channelled towards a brilliantly inconclusive goal. That to me is insensitivity and non strategic.
The truth about all this, is that the things we need to do are not things that we cannot do or achieve, once we have a structure and curriculum that is implemented effectively, then we can have a sustainable educational system. Some of these things are even as closely within the reach of our university system as possible, as some will argue that the government cannot do everything for her citizens .
Take for instance, in some university environment , where there are structures being constructed almost on daily basis, can we not have undergraduate civil engineers and other associated professionals work on those sites and there lecturers or field engineers supervise and correct them appropriately? Rather than wait until they get outside and start learning almost from the scratch?. Can’t we have 1 or 2 years dedicated to that? So that by the time they are through with school ,they can bring in something positive to the industries and by so , contribute to a quantum development of our country?
I have no problem with the 5 years for engineering for instance but if they wish to continue, a lot of sieving must be done to the current course content and design it properly to give it least 2 years of quality practical and application work, similar to the one I sited above and make it compulsory so that if we say we must use 5 years in school as a prospective professional and others are using 3 years in other countries, then it must be worth it. We must be able to beat them on the game, in at least 90% of the time.
This is my sober reflection and the sincere need I found before putting this write up together. I was a graduate engineer for instance who came out with a second class upper in a Federal University and by the time I came out I was sure I could defend most theoretical facts in my field of Engineering field by the grace of God but practically No!. However, Since I left for another profession that got my heart , which took me away from engineering for a while, I can’t say the same now except maybe I get back to the practise of engineering again but for now, life is sacrosanct and we must do everything we can to protect it.
Thanks for your reading patience and hoping that this will provoke positive actions and raise people or persons of like mind who would do something in this direction to save our great country from what I call Professionally Malnourished graduates.
Also hoping that this open write up does not end up like my closed letter to the President around 2012 where I created a blueprint in which through professionalism we can strategically re-write the thrust and dynamics of our nations development and growth. (It was a long term plan I proposed ). Well, better still let me save this here for posterity.
-Edi Stanley Chidi.