Want better education? Explore these options

I never try to let my schooling get in the way of my education

Mark Twain

What can undergraduate students or recent graduates (with less than five years work experience) do to enhance the quality of their seemingly or accurately ‘poor’ Nigerian education?

How can this target group enhance their employability prospects and general intellectual being with limited or non-existent funds?

This piece attempts to explore these questions succinctly.

In the first place, you must accept that education does not only occur in the classroom. There are other places where the mind can be improved. You will definitely learn more on your own than when you are shovel-fed by any institution of learning. As Stephen Downes said, we need to move beyond the ideal that an education is something provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves.

So what are the (largely) free options for you to get an education?

  1. Life itself: C.S. Lewis once stated quipped: experience: the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn. I agree that the most obviously overlooked educator is life itself. Perhaps Benjamin Disraeli expressed this more aptly when he said: there is no education like adversity. Mistakes, setbacks, challenges and even ridicule can provide sufficient fuel and learning points for us to become better people which should be one of the goals of education itself.
  2. From the feet of the aged and the mouth of babes: My brother once told me to engage with people who are least ten years younger and ten years older than me. It was invaluable advice; the younger generation tend to be more knowledgeable about new technologies, for instance, while the older generation can help you navigate the labyrinths of life to achieve your goal(s) in record time successfully. You don’t have to make the same mistakes others have. Everybody’s a teacher if you can listen (Doris Roberts).
  3. Volunteering: This creates an opportunity for exposure to everything from event management to relationship management. It also gives you access to wider networks who you can learn from. Find what works for you and immerse yourself in a world of opportunities to upgrade your skills by working with the more knowledgeable. We learn by doing.
  4. MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) and podcasts: A number of top ranked universities offer free online courses on the following platforms: EdX, Coursera and FutureLearn. In addition, the University of Oxford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for example, host a number of free, publicly available lectures on their websites. All you need is a smart phone/ computer, internet access and a willing mind. A little learning is a dangerous thing, but a lot of ignorance is just as bad (Alice Miller). Update your knowledge.
  5. Libraries: There are many general and specialized libraries in Nigeria ranging from public and institutional libraries to private repositories where one can access knowledge for a small fee or for free. Do make use of them. Google Books also provides full or limited access to old and new publications online. The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you know, the more places you’ll go (Dr. Seuss).
  6. Events: There are many free cultural, intellectual and artistic events going on all over Nigeria. There is no limitation to what you can attend, from TEDx talks to museum tours and art exhibitions. Some of these events can be found or tracked through platforms like Eventbrite.
  7. Social Media: Twitter, in particular, keeps me abreast of current happenings in my field and in the world. Comments/viewpoints posted by others can give you a more broadened perspective on certain topics. The key thing is to ensure you are following the right people, organisations or institutions. Search for what appeals to you for your own education journey.

 

In conclusion: We learn more by looking for the answers to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself (Lloyd Alexander). Good luck as you explore the numerous opportunities available!

 

Author: Ngozi Edeagu

I sum up my persona with this phrase: “Integrity, purpose, and the right to succeed” As a highly committed professional, I have a strong interest in impacting and improving educational opportunities for young people in sub-Saharan Africa.  On the research side, I am interested in the global exchange of people and ideas and their associated channels including print media, knowledge-producing institutions and migration in the colonial and post-colonial historical eras.

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