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Why formal education is not enough to succeed in life; the Nigeria case

This post is in a bid to address the myth that formal education is the key to success in life, that one need only to be educated, acquire certain number of educational degrees and certificates in order to be successful in life especially in Nigeria which we are going to use as a point of reference.

This myth has been the status quo since independence in the 1960s up till now, most Nigerians still hold tenaciously to this view. Nigerians especially the youths have always been advised both by the Government and parents alike to be educated, to acquire some degree from higher institutions in order to be gainfully employed. Thus we see a whole lot of tertiary institutions both public and privately owned springing up in every nook and cranny of this country, encouraging youths to enroll in this institutions with the promise that they will get a job after they must have graduated.

Yet the number of tertiary institutions far exceed the number of employment institutions in the Nigeria space, how do you intend to employ these teeming number of graduates being churned out of these tertiary institutions annually. This is quite worrisome to me.

Thus the sole reason why most people go to school is so they are able to land a good job and not for knowledge sake. This is very wrong perspective about education and this post is about to challenge and may be even address it.

Here in Nigeria, we see education as an end in itself, we see it as a destination one is meant to reach. education is not an end in itself, rather a means to an end. Being educated help you to achieve your life goals, it helps you to effectively navigate the course of life, it does not guarantee your success, rather it helps you in your path to a successful life. We really need to change this notion.

Little wonder when most students are graduating from universities, or rounding off a particular course of study, many of them vow never to read again in their life, or to even open a book again in their life. they feel they are done with educational activities, but this is a poor and myopic insight about education, when people are of this view, you know that they really wasted their time and resources in a bid to get a sheet of paper called Certificate. Why waste your precious time and resources in the University if you are of this view of Education. Would it not have been better if you had gone to acquire certain skill you are passionate about, then use the resources you wasted on the university to fund your newly acquired skill.

We go to School to amass knowledge in different fields of endeavors and not just to get a job or a career. Some people even differentiate between a professional course and a non-professional course, thus the trending advice is for you to apply for professional course as a sure bet to land a job when you are done with your education. I simply believe one can make a profession out of anything you do. This is really myopic.

Though getting yourself a certificate might land you a job, it does not guarantee your success on that job or your fulfilment. A shift from this myopic view of education should be inculcated into the school curriculum. Education does not end in the class or in an institution, neither does it end in acquiring a certificate, it’s a lifelong process. Education does not end in a piece of paper called certificate, rather a summary of one’s life and how well he is living.

In life, formal education or what I will refer as schooling will not get you far in life, this is due to the fact that most people have allowed schooling to interfere in their education. What gets you far in life is how well you have been educated, what specific skills can you blend with your schooling to make a maximum impact in the society. Thus what gets you far in life is not formal education, but self-education

You might be formally educated and even land yourself a good job, but if you are not passionate about the job you do, you will lack the creativity to be the best you can be in that job, you will seldom go far in that job, you will be stuck in your job as most people are today, yet they do not teach you about passion in the school system.

You might also be knowledgeable in a particular topic or area of specialization, but if you do not know when and where to apply your knowledge, you will surely flop in that area.

You might also be highly skilled in a particular area, but when you lack the discipline to bring in the effort and tenacity to set and achieve your goals, you will be discouraged at the face of the slighted obstacle, you will eventually quit your goals, and you are not even taught discipline in school. These are the reasons why one need to be self-educated in order to succeed in life, its only you that can do this for yourself.

Let’s even look at it from the economic and financial perspective, formal education can land you a job, but self-education will make you a fortune, you live life at your own terms and enjoy freedom which is the ultimate good. Let’s say you got your Certificate from a formal institution, landed yourself a good job that pays you on a monthly basis, most often than not, the salary is not even enough to cater for your monthly expenses, yet you are still obligated to show up at your work place every morning, it’s only a matter of time and you will be frustrated both at your job and at your boss, when you give in the time and energy yet your pay is not commensurate with your efforts, this is a typical Nigeria situation.

The only option left for someone in this situation is to look for other relevant skills which he or she can acquire (self-education) as a side hustle, monetize it and subsequently combine it with his regular job in order to make ends meet. In most scenarios, the income from this side hustle is far bigger that the salary from the main job that some will be able to quit their regular job, thus enjoying the freedom it brings along with it. That is the power of self-education.

In recent times, things have changed so drastically that we have no option than to change with it. The Nigeria society has shifted from education based to skill based economy. If you are educated without some specific skill set relative to your field of study, you will not be employable, you will remain a liability. Your skill set might not even be related to the course you studied in school, yet you will be relevant to employers because it is not all about what you studied in school, but everything about what you can do. With your skill set, you can even start your own company. I have seen a medical doctor whose passion is baking and he is super successful at it, he now shifted his focus from the medical practice to full time baking.

This shift from education based economy to skill based economy has left many asking the question whether formal education or schooling is still relevant in today’s society?

The answer to this question could be found beneath the reason why one decided to go school at the first instance. If the reason for going to school is to acquire some certificates, then you will acquire these certificates when you must have spent your time and resources, yet still be irrelevant and unemployable.

On the other hand, if your reason for going to school is to help you to be better equipped at navigating the course of your life, then you will remain a student all your life, you acquire knowledge from every situation that comes your way and not just from the four wall of the school, you become better equipped to live your life and you will eventually be successful at it.

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