Of Paper Intelligence And Half-baked Nigerian Graduates

Posted: May 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageBy Ikeji Victor

In Nigeria today, your guarantee to a speedy employment is based on number of degrees, class of degree or the school attended and not what you know or can be able to do, thus giving paper intelligence more importance when compared to practical intelligence.

Over the years, the craze for a First Class degree or a school whose name is well recognised has led to the production of half-baked graduates who learnt nothing else throughout their stay in school but their course of study. A friend of mine would jokingly say “A Nigerian Microbiologist’s knowledge is limited to just the theoretical culture plate, place him in a Lab and see if he’d recognise a culture plate when he sees one”.

The world seem to be moving at a fast pace technologically but instead of following this trend, the average Nigerian student is either moving from one lecturer’s office to the other trying to sort for grades or in more serious cases spreading their legs as most female students would do just to pass examinations. I don’t blame the student for this but the system that has given priority to Paper intelligence over Practical intelligence. For this same reason, we would have a Masters holder in Mechanical Engineering who can’t fix his generator when it develops a little fault or even fix his car when it breaks down but would sought for the services of a roadside mechanic whom if not found would lead to this M.Eng holder, parking their car and using a taxi to go about his business.

Nowadays employers of labour doesn’t even care about your abilities or that special skill you possess as they would even start the screening according to class of degrees from the vacancy notice and this leads to some ‘less fortunate’ intelligent ones being left out owing to paper intelligence. I wonder if any employer must have listened to Prof. Wole Soyinka as a young graduate when there are other ‘First Class materials’ out there but look at the level where practical intelligence has gotten him today. This is just one out of several cases. A good number of people making waves around the world today never graduated summa or even magma cum laude but their intelligence speaks for them.

Talking about not judging according to class of degrees or paper intelligence, I am not standing in favour of those lazy students who have decided not to read or develop themselves and expect to pass exams but for those who are intelligent and brainy but for one reason or the other, this is not manifested in their certificates as both could be differentiated through employer-employee tests or interactions. A person’s ability or level of intelligence should not be judged by paper intelligence or what a certificate bears because in Nigeria today, some of our politicians have shown that this type of intelligence can either be forged or bought.

Over the years, our Universities had graduated thousands of ‘First Class’ students but still there have been no significant improvement in the country and this is because we are focused on the wrong type of intelligence -The paper intelligence instead of real tangible intelligence. Don’t misunderstand this for me having a dislike for ‘First class’ students because I am also struggling to achieve that feat. In his work ’7 Mistakes Our Generation Must Avoid If We Must Change Nigeria’, prolific author -Okechukwu Ofili writes “When William Kamkwamba designed a wind mill in his village in Malawi he did it without a high-school diploma but yet his impact was much more than thousands with PhD’s.

Not to say that we don’t have Nigerians making that type of difference, but with our degrees and potential we should be doing way more.” He went further to state that “we need to avoid making this deadly mistake of paper intelligence and focus on practical intelligence that can help our nation”.


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