The Importance of Tertiary Education in Nigeria

The Importance of Tertiary Education in Nigeria

There is this funny meme someone posted on his WhatsApp status, which showed that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg ‘dropped’ out of school and made it big while a Nigerian dropped out and ended up a Lagos Danfo driver. This meme is quite hilarious but educating. If there is anything I understand from that meme, it is that Nigerians need to pass through higher institutions to be successful in their careers.

I know there are so many Nigerian mega millionaires that aren’t graduates. But most of our billionaires making waves today are all graduates. For instance Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga and Abdul Samad Rabiu are all university graduates. Even those that didn’t go to tertiary schools employ graduates to help them set up and manage their businesses. They know the importance of education and that’s why they don’t fill up their establishments with ‘dropouts’.

Nigerians need to change their mindsets about referring to foreign countries that don’t need degree qualifications to offer employments. They should understand that this is Nigeria, where certificates matter. We can’t change this overnight so we need to do whatever we can to sustain ourselves in the country. The only thing I can say that is gradually changing is that skills are becoming important too. So, very soon, certificates alone will not guarantee someone a job in Nigeria.

Besides, I don’t really know which of these countries encourage ‘lack’ of tertiary education because most of them that I know of seek for highly educated immigrants that will join their labour force. Some German universities even went as far as offering free tuition to international students just because they need more graduates to work in their system. So, I believe it is not true that developed countries of the world do not value tertiary education any more. But I believe they want skills in addition to certificates.

I am not saying that everybody must attend a university before becoming successful. What I am trying to point out here is that there is need to go further than secondary school education. Nigeria as it is today does not have enough in the curriculum for her secondary school leavers to acquire needed skills and knowledge that will pull them through their career path. Usually, the higher institutions are the places where Nigerians are introduced to life in the career world. So, if a person can’t make it to the university, he should try out polytechnics, monotechnics, colleges of education and certificate awarding specialised higher institutions. There are so many of them in this country (approved and fully accredited).

There are several reasons why people need to go to higher institutions. These include:

a. Learning from people’s experiences. This is actually very necessary. When you go to a tertiary institution, you will be exposed to both the mistakes and success of others. This means that you will have the opportunity of discovering and avoiding wrong decision makings. In other words, you will learn how to try out new paths towards success.

b. Deeper knowledge of your field. Of course, you will have an intense study into your area of specialization.

c. Acquisition of academic certificates. A lot of people will say that there is nothing in a higher school certificate. But that isn’t true because someone that has a post secondary school certificate can easily fall back on it when he needs to change his source of income. For example, if someone that is self-employed encounters some challenges in his business, he may decide to find a paid job with his certificate until he could sort himself out.

d. Greater advantage in job hunt. People that have higher certificates have added advantages when it comes to getting competitive jobs, especially if they have experience, desired skills and professional certificates.

e. Better status in the society. As far we know, Nigerian society respects knowledge. And the easiest way to showcase your knowledge is by obtaining certificates. In fact in Nigeria, the higher your certificate is, the greater your respect in the society will be.

f. You are an authority. If you happen not to study a course in the university or any other school of higher learning, people will not really trust your ideas and judgements on related matters. I always experience this anytime I discuss matters outside the boundary of the English language. If the discussion requires deeper knowledge about the concerned topic, I am always reminded that I’m going into an unknown zone even if I’m talking out of experience.

g. Healthier self-esteem. I know that if you have an argument with some that didn’t attend a higher institution, he will be quick to remind you that he won’t be intimidated by you because you went to school. I’ve also seen people that went to tertiary schools because they want to obtain certificate to boost their status in the society, not because they want to look for a corporate job or use the knowledge they gathered.

I know most of the reasons people do not continue to higher institutions after their secondary schools is because of fund or UTME ‘frustration’. I’ll advice people like this to attend part-time and weekend programmes in universities and other schools of higher learning. They can also try out National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), which admits students without JAMB. They may have to look for jobs to keep them busy and help them sort their financial needs.

It is never too late to try. If you don’t have an added certificate to your SSCE, try to enrol into one school of higher learning this September, no matter what you do for a living. Trust me, it will do you a lot of good.

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