Sunday, 1 September 2013

More Learning to More People

If education, as Nelson Mandela puts it, is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world, then learning, I dare to say, should be the most important process in all of human existence. In this light, it is quite salient to, against all odds, aptly define what learning is in order recognize it. We ought to study its scope and relevance in the society. This is more so as we ought to recognize, as well as, implement the best methods practicable and available. These are all in order to get the best results of this exercise and more still harness its powers.
Jurisprudence holds that there is not one objective definition for any one term in the world. However, proffering explanations would be of great help in conceptualising to an extent, though not exhaustively. Generally, learning may thus be explained as the process of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing existing knowledge, behaviours, skills, values or preferences and may involve combining variedly sourced information. ‘Innovative’ may also be translated to the words ‘new’, ‘unconventional’, ‘revolutionary’ and ‘creative’. ‘Bridging’ refers to connecting or relating two or more disconnected parts. ‘Literacy’ refers to the ability to read and write to a competent level, or the knowledge or competence in a particular subject or area of activity. ‘Skill’ is the ability to do something well to a desired quality. ‘Gap’ in this context may refer to complete or partial absence.
Through time, the scope of learning and where it can take place has been altered by the society’s conception of it. Then again, it has grown steadily as well. This growth has kept it formidable and present in everyday, every place and at every time. When I sit in the classroom to receive my lectures, I am learning. When a girl observes her mum cook, she is learning. When a man reads a book about another man, place, time or thing, he is learning. When a lady travels to a place (other than where she has been to previously) and is gradually getting accustomed, she is learning. When I speak to the youths in my community, I am learning. When I attempt essay competitions alongside my regular academic scheme, I am learning. While I am listening to musical lyrics continually, I am learning. In all these processes, and even more, learning takes place. It springs from the consciousness that something is worth knowing that is unknown; absent that could be present or that something is desired or admired which could be achieved. Learning is the diffusion and absorbance of thoughts, experience, information, ideas, skills and behaviour from a definite source that is prepared and focused on giving to receiver that is prepared and focused on accepting. It is the complete process wherein there must occur a certain alteration in the mind and capacity of a person owing usually to a confrontation or encounter with something or someone else. It is such a delicate process, in the course of which absolutely anything may transpire if taken for granted.
In the twenty first century, it is pertinent to wake up to the status quo and the fact that the art and act of learning has broken free from concrete walled and aluminium roofed classrooms, laboratories and libraries. They are no longer chained to customary lectures and regulated by a fixed time. They do not strictly require any particular person, place or time. They are delicate yet dynamic processes which the world now harnesses to immortalise develop, explosively propagate and expand its existence, power and capacity. In order words, learning is no longer a case of ‘It is very important that you watch me closely and repeat’ but has become the spontaneous process of ‘Watch me, others and you, repeat continuously, do better and let others watch you’.
However, a few corners of today’s world have decided to hold tight to the cliché methods, make them more unbearable, unaffordable and distract others from breaking free even when it is most pressing to. As a result, The Educational Systems of countries like Nigeria suffer and have to come face to face with very daunting challenges. Some of these challenges include inadequate funding by thy government; extremely rigid academic schemes; instability in the condition of the teaching staff; politicisation of admission into schools as well as regards recruitment of teachers; encouragement and non-confrontation of indiscipline, cultism and education malpractice; poor parenting and guidance of the pupils; low standard set for teachers; lack of good role models and the availability of bad ones; inaccessibility of quality education to the poor.  
All these are active factors which affect the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of our Nigerian schools be it nursery, primary, secondary or tertiary. Most of the time, we carry on as though it is not there. Other times we flee from the consequences of our bad actions and lethal inactions. This is further buttressed as the Network of Migration of Research on Africa (NOMRA) (migration expert group) posited that about 10,090 Nigerians were granted visas into the United Kingdom in 2009 and they paid forty two billion naira to the host nation. Another negative effect of our poor education system is that a reasonable fraction of the bright minds in our country cannot afford the proper education, not just because of financial constraints but because of the cliché methods employed. The Nigerian educational system is simply not prepared to handle the twenty first century mind and mannerism.
Whether it is accepted or not, the fact is that today’s lectures are not held in four walled classroom filled with desks, white boards, books, pencils and teachers who speak flawless English. They are held on Facebook Groups and Fan Pages. Pupils are comfortably seated, paying rapt attention, steaming actively in Blackberry Messenger instant messages and ‘To Go’ Chat Rooms. Social Networks, whether they are salaried or not, now receive the highest patronage from the contemporary minds because they are available and affordable. Not merely because they are flashy alluring distractions but because what our Nigerian schools and stale libraries in institutions have to offer are nothing compared to their stellar style, colour, user-end simplicity and speed. This grey cloud is stretched not just to the form of the schools but the substance therein. This is more so the case as the contrast is not only glaring but leaves the twenty-century pupil the chance to choose.  
The questions on our lips thus become: How can we save and fortify our educational system? How can we make Nigerians more conscious of their innate prowess? How can we, through formidable and potent creativity, capture Nigerian minds firmly without distracting them from our core values as a nation and a people under God? How can we creatively inspire and transform Nigerian minds to those which are capable of recreating Nigeria to become the state of our dreams? How can we save Nigeria now? How can we save Nigeria’s tomorrow?
The only way that more learning can be spread to more people is being conscious of them and their circumstances. Today’s Nigerian does not need merely need to be told what to do; he needs to know what to do and how to do it. Invariably, he has to be given the proper orientation by the proper people at the proper place through the proper means. Herein, four things are to be properly taken note of and catered for, orientation, tutors, location and medium.
The proper orientation in the context translates to the act of mentoring the society with the right values through academics. It is not just enough to have subjects taught in classes and seminars. They have to be juxtaposed with what is more customarily seen and has become part of regular living. This however, may not demand the creation of more schools or fortifying the schools that are in existence already. This instead is a call to make the society one big school.
In this light, the education should be taken out to the streets, cinemas, shops, parks, garages, churches, mosques, social groups and other places that are generally pumped with people. This demands holding regular classes at these places in the course of the evenings on courses like Mathematics, English, Basic Sciences, Computer Science/ Information Technology, Arts and Craft, Government (the Art of Good Citizenship) and Current Affairs, commencing from the scratch as it is would be taught to nursery and primary school pupils. This exercise could be drafted into the National Youth Service Corps Scheme. These are very important courses that are today the core of literacy, skill and good citizenship. If the National Youth Corps Orientation Camp are lined with activities such as seminars on basic communication skills and ethnic language of the places they (the fresh graduates) have been posted to and ‘The Art of Teaching in the Twenty First Century’ anchored by qualified veterans (Africans perhaps) who have been opportune to have taught in other places outside Africa and are internationally recommended. These seminars should be at least a two week event with field rehearsals and modelling of these modes by these veterans. These corpers should have, at the end of the seminar, sound knowledge of how to carry out these tasks in their stations. This process may be more spiced if local celebrities such as actors/ actresses, models, artistes, speakers and celebrated authors and humanitarians volunteer to be attached regionally to stations. People would definitely flood the Mile One Park in Port Harcourt with their books and pencils if they got wind of Richard Mofe Damijo’s Free English Lecture on Friday at Mile One, 5:00pm prompt or Osuofia’s Arts and Crafts Class on Saturday Afternoon at the Upper Iweka, Anambra State. These celebrities shall be at these places monthly but shuffled biannually so that the process retains its spontaneity.
Another means to take more learning to more people is bringing these lectures to the radio stations and television programmes nationwide at least three times a day, in the mornings just before the news; afternoons during lunch; and in the evenings just before closing. Three subjects a day with a basic academic scheme that runs monthly including weekend revision sessions (which shall revisit all that has been done in the course of the week). This is more so the case as these programmes shall be interactive and shall have begin and end with popular demand music tracks as shall change from time to time. To encourage and reward public commitment and patronage to these programmes, tests and examination questions thrown open to the public to call and answer them. To further boost public participation, calls made to these academic tests and examination shows should be charged extremely minimally or completely free. Awards scholarship and of certificates of participation should be issued to participants based on the number of attempts they made and their performance at the tests and examinations. As time advances, there could be all night tutorial radio and television shows on Friday nights breaking Saturday morning in preparation for these tests and examinations. This is more so the case as these tutorials can be recorded and sold at a subsidized rate to the general public at book shops nationwide. Academic literature and cartoons may be included in the print media everyday so as to serve as a reference point to the general public and also encourage the general public’s paying attention to current affairs. There could also be billboard signs which further advertise these lectures and their schedules to the public at strategic places nationwide.
Unarguably, the art and act learning is Nigeria’s key to a better society wherein people are more enlightened to know what is proper and what is not; what to believe and what to discard; where to go and where not to; what to say and what not to. This is more so the case as this further prepares Nigeria to compete in a sophisticated yet simple world as it is today and it will become as time and knowledge advances. After the above have been successfully pursued and accepted then we can join we world community on the internet, creating and emerging a new generation of cyber Nigerians who are not only prepared to storm the world but redefine her with that which is not only enviably Nigerian but also proudly African