THEORY VS PRACTICAL: Why Formal Education is Failing Parents By Abai Francis

29 Jun, 2024

As a young child growing up, I love the game of football and was talented in it. But my dad who also loved the game and would take trips to Ogbemudia stadium in Benin city in the then defunct Bendel state to watch live features, would want his son to have none of it. He rather preferred I be in the classroom in some school rather than in the field playing football.

But quite fascinating is the fact that my dad was never a graduate. Although this academic deficiency he didn't want replaying in the lives of his children was his motive of ensuring they were educated, but as I looked back today, I realized he had accomplished more in his state of being a non-graduate than some so-called graduates. My father, like most parents who still fall culprit to such thinking today, missed the big picture—he misunderstood formal education.

The modern day formal education is one of the best legacies parents could bequeath on their children. After all, the pen is said to be mightier than the sword. However, education is not only limited to the classroom (theoretical) but it is more of being practical by nature. The failure of most parents to identify this has led majority of them to be disappointed when their wards fall short of their expectations after graduation.

For a fact, because of the unprogressive state of Nigeria, it is obvious that there are little job opportunities like they were in the 70s and 80s. The failure of the government to plan ahead has led to even more fewer schools and infrastructures in comparison to an ever blooming population, this also has impacted poorly quality learning. Coupled with acute corruption and insecurity, investments are becoming few thereby creating a huge gap between available jobs and a geometric labour market. What this means is that the so much touted blue collar jobs are beginning to phase out.

Recall that most parents spend millions of naira in educating their children who are seen as investment centers. And so, after graduation it is not only expected that they would help their parents to recoup past expenses but would also bring them dividends as profit (benefit) for investing in them. Sadly, such expectations have been dashed in recent times as the jobs are no longer there, thereby rendering some graduates as obsolete or redundant entities.

While my dad could have achieved more if he had proceeded to tertiary institution for advanced learning, however, his being practical in his learned trade was the main reason for his success, at least to an extent. This mindset of being practical in learning is what has resurfaced in the academic world through 'entrepreneurship'. In other words, parents should not only focus on educating their children in theoretical terms by enrolling them in some formal institutions of learning but should also endeavour that their wards acquire some other practical skills/trades. This will help them to not become rigid but flexible academically and professionally.

Therefore, parents should sponsor their children to learn some practical trades alongside their institutional career path. It could be fashion design, carpentry, hairstylist, or what have you. Aside learning handwork, parents should endeavour to encourage their wards to develop their natural God given talents in the areas of sports and other arts across entertainment rather than discourage them from pursuing their dreams.

Formal education in this modern era is not a sole guarantee that your children will become successful in life; such belief is only a fallacy. Instead, in this modern competitive world, if you so desire to prepare your children for success, then learn to think outside the box. Focus on developing their natural abilities and then aligning such with their academic pursuit. Don't leave their success to some institutions of learning or you might be disappointed. Variety, they say, is the spice of life. And the more skillful your wards are, the likely their success.

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