Read part 1 here!
The lop-sidedness of my grades continued when I (finally) got admission into the university (thank you JAMB!). I didn’t like the course I was given admission for (Political Science and Education) and spent the first two years trying to change course to something that seemed more sensible to me at the time (Sociology). My grades for these years were also average. I finally gave up on changing my course and decided to just focus on my studies by the end of my second year. My results for my 3rd and 4th year of studies were exceptional; I put in the effort, and I made good grades. I was thrilled.
My joy was however short-lived: the incompetence of my faculty and department in compiling the final results was astounding. Stories of ‘missing grades’ emerged. I was given grades for courses I had not taken. My result for a 4-year course was for reasons best known to the department was divided by 5 years. The extra year in question was as a result of numerous strike actions by lecturers, which we students had no control over. This dodgy result was approved by the Head of Department and all relevant approving authorities.
Now, how do these events and experiences shape a graduate’s mindset in Nigeria? The message seems to be ‘work hard, but know that the system will fail you’. All this, after spending years as an undergraduate enduring lecherous lecturers, lecturers who extorted money from you, and others who were just terrible at teaching.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study for a postgraduate degree a few years later in England. My favourite place in the school was the library. Sometimes I would wonder through rows of shelves in the library just marveling at the quantity of books. You could reserve books if there were not immediately available. I was in student book heaven.
And the Lecturers. They were polite and guileless, only seeking to impart knowledge. You could see them in their offices or email them if you had questions. I called Professors by their first names. My dissertation supervisor calmly guided me in the right direction when my first draft of work was clearly not up to scratch. I was treated with more respect and dignity by lecturers in one year of study in England than I was in the 5 years I spent as an undergraduate in a Nigerian university.
What is the value of education if you graduate from university feeling bitter and disgruntled, expecting that your hard work will not matter, seeing that your peers who ‘know the right people ‘ will excel over you, and that the system seems to exist only to frustrate you, rather than to make your journey into the world smoother?
Such experiences could either leave one dejected and without hope, or more determined to succeed in achieving one’s goals.
I choose the latter.