By Ganiu Bamgbose(PhD)
Gown and town are metaphors for educational institutions and society, respectively. Educational institutions are the brainbox of any society. While the society is like a car, her educational institutions are like its engine.
Although the engine may not be very conspicuous in a car, every other part of the car is as good as useless once the engine is either bad or begins to malfunction. The car, of course, can be managed from one destination to another with any other faulty part of it, but not with a bad engine. Enough of the scenarios!
Put directly, the educational institutions which should be the think-tank of any country have been deprived of the ability to think well in Nigeria. While other institutions across the world can survive independently from what they realise through quality research, many Nigerian institutions cannot even survive without government’s subventions.
How motivated can a lecturer whose monthly pay barely sustains for a month be able to engage in serious research? Apparently, research has been reduced to a mere professional criterion than a fulfilling intellectual engagement. The think-tank is now made to think less.
Educational institutions which should be the norm and value-creating arm of any country have been reduced to a norm and value-digesting corner in Nigeria. Schools do not have so much to dish out to the society; we have much more to receive.
With slangy expressions such as ‘mafo’ ‘o por’ ‘e choke’, ‘who dey breet’, academics in Nigeria must frankly accept the truth that we are not even the primary influence on those we are molding. Slangy expressions are universal and are not in themselves bad. The worry is why students cannot come up with intellectually-stimulated slang but have to rely on whatever pop culture feeds them with?
Is it any different with us scholars? If we are ever invited to government houses, of course, it is not to present findings of our research. It is most likely to be told what role to play in the next government’s action. The thinkers are now being thought for. They have seized from the gown what is needed to be role models.
When last did you hear a young person willingly say s/he wants to be a teacher? Our offices are not what they see ahead of themselves. Our cars don’t appeal to them. How do you afford the type of car that they see on the street as a lecturer if you don’t do extra?
And why do we have to do extra? Are reading, teaching, marking, grading, and researching not killing already? IN NIGERIA, WE HAVE LOST THE UNIVERSE IN THE UNIVERSITY. OUR GOWNS ARE TORN AND, SADLY, WE CANNOT AFFORD NEW ONES.
The most precious gift of mankind is knowledge. It is the genesis of every other thing that makes life habitable. A nation that plays down on the warehouse of knowledge is just a time bomb of doom.
The students who are not well taught are waiting to damage the infrastructure you are building and to also teach your children. The doctors who are half-baked are warming up to treat you when you are unable to go abroad. Let this be another voice to the many that have been sounded that a town that does not take care of its gown will soon dance naked.
Bamgbose (Dr GAB) is of the Department of English, LASU.