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opinion Poetry reflection Series thoughts

Poets Corner: Difference between Wisdom, Knowledge and Education.

My take on this…

It’s generally believed that knowledge is power. Yet many find it difficult to differentiate between wisdom and knowledge. For me knowledge is having the stuff while wisdom boils down to application of the stuff. To differentiate both from education is even a thing of further logic.

In my opinion education should come first, followed by knowledge and wisdom. That’s the order most of us acquire them in.

What’s the difference?

My aim on todays blog is to identify the differences between education, knowledge and wisdom through the minds of writers and poets. Have fun.

Suzanne Uchytil offered that “Education isn’t a type of intelligence – it’s something that is usually forced on us. Whenever someone is called educated, it usually means they’re knowledgeable (they know facts). Education can be good, though, if we choose to gain knowledge from it. (For instance, I’ve never had a college class that I didn’t find at least interesting and learn at least a little bit from, because I approached all my classes as opportunities to gain knowledge.) Then wisdom means applying that knowledge in real life and understanding consequences.” This sounds exactly like my thoughts.

Gareth John Jones opined that knowledge is understanding and remembering your education (formal or not). Wisdom is knowing how to use your knowledge. I surely agree with this definition.

David Franklin has this to say “Education is when people try to stuff knowledge into you. Knowledge is what you know for yourself. Wisdom, though, that’s something else. I know very knowledgeable people who are fools, and fairly simple people who are very wise. It’s about using one’s judgment about situations, knowing which piece of knowledge to apply when. Knowledge may be power, but wisdom is control of power.”

For Fiona Margaret Jones, education is only what can be given to you. Knowledge is what you take from it and wisdom is what you make of it.

Jimi Gardner says that education is received for outside. Knowledge is created by testing education. Wisdom is created by diligently observing the outcomes of testing knowledge.

David Gilbert observed that one can’t buy wisdom, education means plaque on the wall gates opened and knowledgeable is your cumulative wisdom.

Annette Bergman has this to say: “Selling real estate for over 30 years I can say I have met educated people who were not very knowledgeable. For instance I showed a house to an Engineer and he asked me what the line out to the garage was. It is an electrical so you have lights in the garage. Another engineer went directly to the sellers and negotiated a small possession problem. He agreed to 60 days after closing for possession.I praised him for his brilliant compromise. I will bet money when he had two mortgage payments to make plus his two months of rent, he had to have figured it out. It takes all kinds and the creative people only need a skilled traded to make a great living. Another college education person said to me. Those of us who went to college know that The United States wasn’t founded religion. She probably still thinks that and will vote accordingly.”

J Christopher Harman showed his disappointment on others opinion. He said, “How sad that so many of you have such poor views of education. Education should be the key to both. What a shame we live in a world (at least for most countries) where education is such a dire experience.”

I hope this discussion was helpful. What is your opinion on it?

Categories
Africa, Poetry and Love education opinion

Opinion: The 2020 World University Rankings

As children in the typical agrarian world of Northern Cross River State, Nigeria, it was the tradition for mothers to leave their young babies in the care of the older ones while the mothers went to distant farms. Across the day the older children grappled with the occasional frustrating cries of their baby-siblings, sometimes grappled with hunger and even with the sheer anxiety of being left alone at home to fend for their younger siblings without an adult. At the onset of evening hours mothers began trickling back from the farms. For the child whose mother had not arrived, it was a great moment of anxiety, of frustration and worry; and it was this situation that gave birth to the usual children’s short song, addressed to the beetle called “Whukpalib” in the Bette-Bendi lingo. The short song goes: “Whukpalib-eh, whukpalib, whukpalib-eh, whukpalib, everyone else is arriving [home], but my mother isn’t arriving!”

This was the song that leaped to my lips early this month as I flipped through the list of names in the 2020 world ranking of universities as released by the Centre for World University Rankings. My non-arriving mother in this case was, first, the name of any Nigerian university, and then the name of any African university. Three of the first four mothers to arrive were neighbours from South Africa: the University of Cape Coast at number 268; the University of KwaZulu-Natal being number 477; while the third neighbour was University of Johannesburg, which is the 706th on the list out of the 2000 universities recorded. The other African university is Cairo University, Egypt, which is the 558th on the list. The next neighbouring mother to arrive was Uganda’s Makere University, which was established in the same 1948 as Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan, by the British colonial government. Makere came up as the 923th best university in the world; yet, my real mother, the first Nigerian university to arrive, didn’t come up until I got to serial number 1,163, where I found our own great University of Ibadan. This places this best Nigerian university four times below the best in South Africa, University of Cape Coast. Down the list another Nigerian mother arrived at number 1,882, the University of Nigeria. This is only 118 universities away from the bottom of the list of 2000; and that ended the arrival of my Nigerian university mothers from distant farms.

Beyond the anxiety about seeing or not seeing the names of Nigerian universities coming up on the list, there were musings and reflections and some fun, too, around me as I went down the list. I was always pleased to find the names of some of the universities around the world that I’ve had some close career and professional involvements with, or have heard about, or whose histories I am familiar with, or in which I have some friends. For instance, my heart experienced glow when I saw the names of a few of the universities in New York which I’d visited as a Fulbright scholar. Similarly, I was excited to find on the list names from among the cluster of universities in India’s Tamil Nadu axis, whose doctoral candidates I have examined for over 15 years now. The Ghanaian age mate of Nigeria’s University of Ibadan, University of Ghana, Legon, whose campus I am reasonably familiar with, came up also a bit late at number 1,346. Even at this number, it turned up earlier than Kumasi’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, which surfaced at number 1,460. The arrival of certain four universities or so stirred up goose pimples all over me. They are Wuhan University (243), Wuhan University of Technology (555), Wuhan University of Science and Technology (1381) and Wuhan Institute of Technology (1494). Whenever a Wuhan name appeared, I thought of my nose mask and hand sanitizer as emblems of covid-19!

Malaysia’s Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia) has some special significance to me. I was at this great university in 2005 when the results of the world rankings of universities for that period were announced and Malaysia’s best universities shifted a little backward from where they had been in the preceding rankings. The reactions from Malaysians shocked me pleasantly. The daily newspapers were awash with queries and criticisms and anxiety by almost all Malaysians; and it looked like the citizens were going to ask for the sacking of the minister of education. I bought some of the papers just to show Nigerians what education meant to citizens of some other countries. But not many persons I gave the papers to saw anything striking in the fact that the entire citizenry were so concerned about the state of the nation’s universities. Also, it was at this university that I saw how much serious-minded governments cherish intellection as a necessary synergy between the gown and the town. Here was where I found directors from government ministries participating actively in the international conference and taking down notes most furiously and copiously to factor into the business of running government. And it was here, too, that I experienced the then-former Prime Minister (He is back as Prime Minister at over 90 years, though), Dr Mahathir Ibn Mohammed, presenting a keynote address on the nation’s language policy, and making vital intellectual contributions that define the boundary between the need to promote one’s mother tongue for use in the domestic domains, and the English language for global and international communication. Yet, Dr Mahathir Ibn Mohammed is a medical doctor by training.

As I went down the list, my mind also reflected on the Nigerian university system. Here is a nation whose University of Ibadan was rated among the best ten universities within the Commonwealth at a time Commonwealth nations looked down on the American university system, generally; but today Ibadan can only take a miserable 1,163th position among world universities. Here is a nation whose universities’ products Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu boasted proudly of as being responsible for the scientific and technological feats the Biafrans recorded during the unfortunate Civil War. Here is a nation whose children who have managed to find their way out of the country are excelling everywhere they find themselves in the world. Here is a nation whose products as teachers and researchers are making breakthroughs in all manner of human endeavours wherever the environment is education-friendlier. Here is the same nation forming a huge valley among the world’s universities today. And as I went down the list, images of some of our current gladiators in government flitted past my head. I could see the Honourable Minister of Labour seated, his beard of affluence in place, sipping a healthy cup of coffee or tea, a resting newspaper in front with just the labour-related stories asterisked for him as he thinks of what rough tackle to use in “defeating” the nation’s striking university lecturers. I can see the Honourable Minister of Finance, her venom whetted and ready to strike further at the university lecturers’ salaries. I can see her loyal subaltern, the Accountant-General, with his Director in charge of IPPIS, ready with a fresh punch at the lecturers’ lean earnings. And then as I continued down the list, my eyes stumbled on the image of the Honourable Minister of Education struggling against odds to explain the tragedy entailed in killing education. He looks strange and alone among his colleagues in his favourable posturing towards ASUU’s system-saving interventionist measures.

These images invoked severe pain in me as I looked at my great nation almost absent from the comity of world’s universities. Not that all Nigerians do not know the truth about ASUU’s struggles for the survival of public universities, two of which are the ones represented on this year’s rankings of world universities. Many Nigerians know and are truly sad about the situation. For instance, while we, the Nigerian lecturers, were deliberately starved during the Covid-19 total lockdown, my great friend, Kayode Komolafe of Thisday newspaper, strengthened me much. He assured me that when the history of this country will be written, ASUU will have a place of gold in the account as that is the only union that is sincerely fighting a lone battle for the survival of Nigeria’s universities. When he mentioned that ASUU is fighting a battle that all Nigerians ought to be fighting, I remembered my Malaysian and Ghanaian experiences. At independence in 1957, Ghanaians decided to insulate education from politics such that any government, military or civilian, that tampers with the nation’s education, faces the wrath of the entire citizenry, not just the actors in the education sector alone. Another great mind, Pastor Udeme Ukpong, used the story of the snake which bit repeatedly the hand that wanted to save it from a fire as an illustration of how Nigerians are destroying or biting incessantly the ASUU that is battling to save the nation’s education system. And who are these snakes? The government, which should take the glory for having a healthy system of education, the parents who should be happy that their children are being given a globally competitive education quality; and the students themselves, who should be appreciative of being properly baked for survival in a competitive world. The student body, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), especially under the successive treacherous and leadership of Yinka Gbadebo (under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan) and Bamidele Akpan (under the current administration of President Mohammadu Buhari) simply spent more time daring the lecturers to please the government than fighting for the improvement of the education sector.

Further, in a rather pensive, almost mournful tone, one of my most gracious and promising former students, who now resides in Britain, said to me, “Sir, we all know what ASUU is fighting for. The Union certainly wants the system to survive, but I doubt that the Union will achieve its goal because the British economy will be seriously and negatively affected if the Nigerian education system regains its good state of health. You need to know how much this country [Britain] makes every year from fees paid by Nigerian students; and the people here [in Britain], who control our governments back home would never allow any positive changes in the state of our education”. Not that this was new to me or to my colleagues; but the import of the statement is that it was coming from a non-ASUU member, a patriotic, altruistic and well informed Nigerian who told me she was still proud of her Nigerian university education background in spite of the lack of facilities and the strikes that had truncated her learning while here.

In sum, while the atmosphere in other countries must be charged now with robust discussions about how their countries fared in this year’s world ranking of universities, Nigerians, with only two out of the nation’s over 200 universities making the list at 1163 and 1882 respectively, are quiet and going about their businesses as if this nation is no longer a part of the world – or can only share the world’s woes such as in Covid-19. Still worse is the fact that while the rest of the world’s governments are either celebrating the enhanced positions of their universities in the rankings or working towards improvement in the education sector, the gladiators in the Nigerian government led by the ministers of labour and finance, and armed with the crude implement known as IPPIS (Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System), is busy plucking the few feathers that are left in the body of the bird called Nigerian University System through the current sacking of contract and visiting lecturers. Thus, like the racist former American White police officer, Derek Chauvin, who savagely pinned down the African American George Floyd to death late last month with his knee, the knee of the Nigerian government is on the neck of the Nigerian university system, and the system cannot now breathe given the sacking of lecturers on contract and visiting appointments, government’s dragging of feet over the renegotiation of its agreement with ASUU, government’s reluctance to pay the lecturers their long overdue earned academic allowances, government’s repeated reneging on the provision of fund for revitalization, and the now routine amputation of even their already paltry monthly deceptions called salaries. Strangely, however, the Nigerian students themselves, their parents and most of the Nigerian populace are either urging the government to press its knee harder on the neck of the lecturers or struggling to lend a knee to government’s murderous one already on the neck of the nation’s education system, while the advanced economies that have programmed the system to this death watch with satisfaction, their universities showing up very early in the list of any world rankings of universities. Meanwhile, the Nigerian nation remains represented in this year’s world rankings by only the University of Ibadan, which comes up at 1,163, and the University of Nigeria, which takes the 1,882th position out of the 2000 universities on the list.

– Professor Joseph A. Ushie

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education Nigeria opinion reflection Series

Amnesty Int’l Letter: Children’s Day 2020

Dear Okechukwu,

I wish a happy Children’s Day to all the children in your life.

But as I write to you today, my heart goes out to all the children detained in Northeast Nigeria and caught up in endless violence at the hands of Boko Haram and the Nigerian military.

They were taken away from their families and had their childhood revoked – they were forced to become child soldiers and child wives, subjected to atrocious violence. They were detained unlawfully, often with adults, in grossly inhumane conditions. They were ill-treated and tortured.

And now, as they attempt to recover, hundreds of schools remain closed – 75% of children in Borno State are out of school.

We’re launching a report on the toll of Nigeria’s Northeast conflict on children today.

Nigeria must swiftly reverse its course and bring redress to children in the Northeast.

Kind wishes,
E. I.
Campaigner, Amnesty International Nigeria

***

I received this heart breaking email from Amnesty International Nigeria. As I read through, it dawned on me that there’s little or nothing to celebrate today. Bad leadership, political unrest, insurgency, religious crisis and poverty contributed to issues faced by children today. I always mention bad leadership because it is at the centre of it all.

It’s frightening when I look at reported cases of abuse (and what about unreported cases?) Children rights are abused on daily basis. Even as we celebrate their day, many will go to bed without food, many will never attend school in their lifetime, many may never have the chance to live (a normal life). What is really going on?

Start blogging today.

Is it not awful that in today’s civilized world which had conquered diseases, deserts and drought, that children rights are taken lightly? They have become main victims of forced labour, teenage pregnancy, sexual/physical abuse, trafficking, child soldiers etc. I hope that things change for good.

I dedicate the poem below to children, all over the world. I echo what many may never have the chance to ask for:

Give me books and a pen,
Promise me nothing but education
Teach me words or to count one to three
And I’ll paint the world for you to see

Today being Children’s Day, I wish that every child has access to quality education, that every child live in a world free of economic, religious, political, or sociocultural discrimination and finally that we all put children’s rights first and contribute towards their happiness, peace and progress.

Good night.

Categories
Africa education lifestyle

Update on Covid19

The World Health Organisation (WHO) asked African leaders and health institutions to prepare for the worst. I’m afraid, African leaders are doing little or NOTHING to prevent the spread of the virus. Moreover, health institutions in Africa is in shambles, so I don’t know how we will be preparing to prevent the spread of Covid19 with all these drama. In Nigeria for instance, life goes on as usual. Public associations and places are not limited, restricted or isolated respectively. Markets, schools, and religious centers are still open. Morning news headlines read that there are 8 confirmed Covid19 cases in the country. The figures may be growing elsewhere in Africa! People make joke of the virus, thinking that the virus is ineffective in the tropics. But I’m not bothered about this goof, I think that more should be done on providing education on the virus.

As much of Africa’s population live in remote/rural areas, disseminating relevant information may be difficult. The government, nay everyone can a role. While NGO’s can help educate the rural populace about the virus, teachers in schools can suspend some lessons to teach students about it too. Taking Covid29 lightly may bring unforeseen mayhem. I plead with bloggers to share information on the virus. Information is power. Let us help stem this scourge.

#coronakindness

Categories
Nature Pastoral Poetry

Humane-ity

I arrived school with headache as I was stressed from doing many chores and sleeping less. I was a nanny, a mother, a father and a guardian, all put in one. Also, Jindu was sick and I nursed him.

When my mom took my sister to the hospital, I had to prepare Jindu’s meals and got him ready for school each morning. I made sure he had all his supplies, including his drugs and came home on time to stay with him. This made me not to hang out with friends as usual. I combined my hectic job with family chores and errands to and fro the hospital. My sister eventually died a week later, 6th February, 2020 (May God rest her soul).

The crux of the write up is on these two girls: Modesta and Favor, some of my best math students who noticed my unease and sadness when they came to my office. I wasn’t in the mood for chat so I just replied their greeting and tried to focus on my note. Normally, that was a clue for any student to leave me alone. But the girls left and returned later with a toddler from kindergarten. Excel, the toddler is fond of me and likes playing when she sees me. I was to her a playmate. When Excel made a face, I couldn’t help but laugh and we did play our hearts out. I felt the joy those students had seeing me laugh and I believe they must have seen the appreciation in my eyes when I smiled back at them.

I’m grateful for the caring and lovely people around me. Your prayers and comfort make me strong by the day. Thank you so much. I wish you all a great weekend.

Good night everyone.

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Uncategorized

Destiny Community School, Zambia

Doctors, accountants, lawyers… These are just some of the dreams of the students at Destiny Community School in Zambia.

These underprivileged students love going to school. Help them continue their education. As you’ll see, they have bright hopes and dreams for their future.

#GivingWay

Categories
Africa education Lessons from Experiences

Thoughts on Teaching Math

Consider the first time you taught someone how to ride a bicycle or did any form of teaching. It wasn’t easy, was it? Teaching is a stressful job. Teaching math is much more stressful.

Math is in everything you do! Before trying to explain this, I make the students relax. Many students fear the subject, so some jokes may put them at ease. I discuss the roles math play in their daily lives; how proper calculations produce good cooking, timely and efficient decisions and even in choosing friends! These intros makes them more interested. I also talk about the real life application, drawing examples from solved problems. While Logic work for Legal Practitioners, Bearing, Longitudes and Latitudes work for Pilots and Sailors. Simple Interest and Annuities work for Accountants, Bankers and investors. Ones approach to teaching will either make the students interested in learning or put them off, completely.

Creativity, flexibility, patience, tolerance and kindness are qualities a teacher must have. A teacher should have some sense of humour too. BTW 1+1 is not 3. It’s between 1 and 4.

I must prepare for Monday. Take care everyone.

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education

Leadership: Is Education really worth it?

I debated myself on the relevance of education in Africa.

So I am going to weigh my thoughts on a pendulum. Say the pendulum swung to yes, then I wonder why we have educated Africans who make little or no effort in enhancing the social and economic well-being of the continent. I wonder why people with academic zeal are not supported or encouraged to be their best selves and I wonder when top political leadership in Africa will be a function of the educated class.

It’s unfortunate that this continent with abundant human and material resources, arable land and sunshine offer very little in terms of economic, infrastructural, social and human index development. Currently, African countries record as some of the World’s poorest countries with high infant mortality rate, high unemployment and inflation rates, civil unrest and more. While Africa is endowed her leaders can’t manage her endowment efficiently.

Graduates leave school with high hopes (one may have struggled to graduate through economic hardships). Then comes the government(s) with no visible plan(s) to assimilate these graduates into the workforce. So is education really relevant for the African youth?

When the desirable is not available the available becomes desirable. Most of Africa’s graduates seek ready jobs. Few wish to start up businesses or entrepreneurial ventures. Even these few may be constrained by factors such as unavailability of start-up capital. In search for jobs graduates even lose the reason why they attended school in the first place. Can you imagine a Law or Finance graduate teaching Government or Mathematics in classrooms? Also as unemployment persists, graduates resort to many vices to make ends meet. Crime rates (internet scams, kidnapping, robbery, drug dealing etc) are on the high. Unemployment contributed to this.

When I made mention of political leadership, I intended to draw attention to this: while economic and social leadership are in the hands of the educated, political leadership still remain in the hands of the less educated. It is from these hands that signatures and affairs concerning the welfare of the state emanate. A blind man can’t lead a blind man.

Sometimes I think education is not doing much for the African youth. To get things working fine, we have to start from our political leadership. Every leader who won’t make education a priority, should not be allowed to lead.

Categories
Africa education Lessons from Experiences Series

Thoughts on Africa 3: Education

Research is diligent inquiry or examination to seek or revise facts, principles, theories, applications etc; laborious or continued search after truth.

Interestingly, the definition ended with search after truth. Apart from expanding the thinking horizons of man, research seeks to discover the why’s and why nots. Research offers sound recommendation and suggestions that can help fix problems.

Education is meant to improve lives. An educated man thinks critically and ‘out of the box’. While we have educated Africans we barely research in Sub Saharan Africa universities. One of the main goals of establishing universities is to improve our social, economic, health and political lives. This may be achieved through research.

Many universities in Europe, North America and Asia create new knowledge through research. Some good researchers in these universities come from Africa. So my question is, why do we not encourage research in African universities?

Why do African universities lack behind in research? I will try to list some reasons why. In future posts I may explain them.

1. Lack of motivation.

2. Lack of research materials and instruments.

3. No funding, as research requires much of it.

4. Even when proper research work is done, the recommendation is most times not implemented.

I may write more on this in my next Thought on African Education.

How is everybody? Remember our motto: Be good, be kind.

Good morning from West Africa!

Categories
Africa education Nature Pastoral Series

Thoughts on Africa 2: Education

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the true goal of education. – Martin Luther King, Jr

Education is crucial to self, community and national development. It is one tool that can bring social, economic and political change to Africa.

There’s little done to improve the African education sector by governments. So the work shouldn’t be left to African governments alone. To forge a brighter future, we need to work extensively to revive the nursery, primary and secondary education sectors in most African countries. These sectors are in a very bad state, especially in West Africa.

In some areas, school facilities are dilapidated. Buildings are in ruins, some do not have rooftops and some learn in the open, under the sun’s heat. We have records of children learning in flooded classes, in roofless halls and very bad academic environment. Some teachers are not truly teachers, just victims of unemployment. Salaries are sometimes withheld, why? I can’t even say. A time will come for that.

For teaching efficiency, I recommend training, more training and continued training of teachers and the education workforce. Knowledge is not static, it is dynamic and changes almost each day. So training is key to efficiency and we must adopt new ways of teaching through use of the internet and other media. Payment of salaries is another issue facing the academic profession. Public school teachers are sometimes owed for months! Therefore teachers lose the morale to work. Tell me how working in such hard economic conditions can bring efficiency. Private school teachers are not paid well. The income is quite ridiculous for a graduate!

Management should include technical/commercial education curriculum in academic work. Some students do not really care for Maths or History, but if you raise a drawing/painting board you can buy them over. We can create a diverse academic environment that will from the scratch develop skills and talents in students while providing a basic education. The convention of attaching core subjects status to some selected disciplines should be abolished. Allow students grow into their skin, on their best ability, preference of thought and pace (time). Government should partner with the ‘private sector’ to renovate schools and provide academic materials for teachers and students. Schools should endeavor to teach students in local languages as well as the lingua franca. Success comes from within and we will get there some day.

I will update more on my thoughts on Africa later. Have a great day.

Good morning from West Africa.

©Oke Iroegbu

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Uncategorized

It’s World Teacher Day

worlds-best-teachers

Teachers create a civilization through their every day activities. Now by teachers I mean everybody who give out knowledge to others in any way or any form, not just the school teachers. I know someone out there will agree with me that teachers are awesome. I might not write a loving poetry to tell you how wonderful you teachers are but I like to use this opportunity to appreciate you all and share some love to you via my blog. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, you deserve more than apples.