By Abiodun Olumide Ogundare
The picture of a lady who I did her final year project when I was in 200level cropped up to my mind when Chima started out with her outbursts the other day we met at a bar.
Her name was Ayoka Allentylor. Her call woke me from my slumber that particular day. “Hello?” sounding romantic. “This is Ayoka, you are the guy doing my project. I am about to submit my chapter two, please, what is my project topic? I dont want to stutter should my supervisor ask me” I couldn’t believe she just asked me about her project topic. How did she come about the topic and the material she gave me to work with? I was filled with wonder.
“Can you imagine?” Chima startled me. “And this is a friend who graduated with distinction while I managed to graduate with a lower credit”. She continued. “Abbey, how could she fail that interview? It was too cheap. Just for her to identify an insurance policy form from a pile of documents on a shelve. Now tell me, what has she learnt in school?
“Calm down.” I told her. “Chima, I have seen worse.” I have seen a computer science graduate who could not operate a computer. What could be worse than that? What would you say of a student who had an ‘A’ in research methodology and still cannot coin a project topic not to talk of wrting a project by himself. “You see, when we were in school” Chima started again, “this friend of mine would memorize a whole textbook in her head and recalled it word for word. Everyone of us would be jealous of her because we hardly remember what we read. None of us ever beat her scores and this made us more jealous of her. The rest of us were seen as dullards, our scores were always woeful. A lecturer once told me to abandon schooling and start selling pepper because I couldn’t pass his course at two sittings.
“Many students are only good at theory”, interrupting her. Some students are leading their department with high CGPA and still cannot apply what has been learnt. For instance, in my department I do envy some students’ results but I stopped when I realized my failure is far better than their success: my carry-over in a course is better than their ‘A’ of the same course. Through interracting with them, I found them fall short of the respect accorded to them. For example, the misapplication of syntax rules in their spoken and written words which they had an ‘A’ in the course was crystal clear.
Chima, do you think we need to blame these students for the wrongs? Some lecturers encourage rote learning. My friend Simbi, told me she had ‘E’ in a course she was expecting ‘A’. She met with the course lecturer to know the cause of her failure. Her discovery was shocking. The lecturer told her that he expected her to supply the note he gave them in class word for word. Ever since then, what she does everytime she has his course is to memorize the words, write them down in exam and forget afterwards.
Lets take a look at the country Chima; most employers judge job seekers by their certificate and not by what they can offer in the area of their specializations. This resulted to the struggle of every student to graduate with either first class or second class upper regardless of the objectives of learning.
The curriculum too, is structured in such a way that it concentrates more on theory and less of practical. Graduates with second class lower are to do a year post graduate course before they can go for Masters.
Pressure from parents and relatives is also another major factor why students engage in this practice. Parents and relatives high expections hanging on the neck of students make them result to cramming books to pass exams instead of studying to understand. In Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie, Kambili resulted to cramming to become first in class so that Eugene, her father can be pleased.
Students need to understand that what is taught in school can only make them be first class in grade and not first class in practice. Therefore,They should not limit their knowlege to what is taught in classroom but apply classroom knowledge to real life situations. By doing this, mysteries will be uncovered and puzzling questions on the way forward will be solved.