Buhari cer­tifi­cate saga and its need­less con­tro­ver­sies

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Charles Onunaiju

Aca­demic cer­tifi­cate is a sim­ple re­ceipt of the at­tain­ment of spe­cific aca­demic ac­com­plish­ment and is how­ever, nar­rowly fo­cused on the out­come of spe­cific ex­am­i­na­tions for which the holder is marked and graded ac­cord­ing to his or her per­for­mance.

Cer­tifi­cates re­flect in­stance of the holder’s per­for­mance in a par­tic­u­lar con­text of aca­demic train­ing over a spe­cific pe­riod of time. Aca­demic train­ing whether pri­mary, sec­ondary or at ter­tiary lev­els es­sen­tially dwell on the spe­cific out­lines of study and fo­cuses on the re­ward of stu­dent’s out­put which cer­tifi­cates are the holder’s re­ceipt. What aca­demic train­ing does, for which cer­tifi­cates are tes­ti­mo­ni­als is to pre­pare the mind for au­tonomous and in­de­pen­dent de­vel­op­ment. The most im­por­tant out­come aca­demic train­ing is not mere cer­tifi­cates but in the de­vel­op­ment of a sound mind driven by orig­i­nal and crit­i­cal think­ing that ex­poses one to in­no­va­tions, imag­i­na­tions and cre­ativ­ity.

The ag­gre­gate per­for­mance of aca­demic train­ing re­ceipted in the award of cer­tifi­cate, are in most cases not re­flec­tive of the rigour of learn­ing.

How­ever, while cer­tifi­cate re­main and would re­main for the fore­see­able fu­ture, the mea­sure of the holder’s aca­demic out­put for the spe­cific grade at­tained, but cer­tainly in the nar­row sense of aca­demic train­ing, the broad de­vel­op­ment of the mind, which re­flects in the depth of thought, acute sen­si­bil­i­ties and com­plex and con­sis­tent knowl­edge pro­duc­tion can­not be cer­tifi­cated.

Rest­less minds turnedin­no­va­tors some­times could not adapt them­selves to the rou­tine of for­mal school­ing and drop out to ex­plode their tal­ents and deep think­ing into crit­i­cal in­no­va­tions. Face­book founder, Mark Zucker­berg, Bill Gates of Mi­crosoft and even the late Steve Job of Ap­ple were ex­em­plary rest­less minds who could not find ac­com­mo­da­tion to the rou­tine of for­mal school. Even the deeply philo­soph­i­cal and po­lit­i­cally charged in­ter­na­tional singer, the late Robert Nesta Mar­ley once said that if he had been to any for­mal school, he would have come out a damned fool.

The Rus­sian rev­o­lu­tion­ary and the founder of the de­funct Soviet red army, Leon Trot­sky, pro­lific writer of un­par­al­lel depth could not rec­on­cile the rot­ten­ness of Rus­sian Tsarism of his time and his rev­o­lu­tion­ary in­stinct to up­end it, to the then pre­vail­ing for­mal ed­u­ca­tion. He shunned for­mal school­ing to pur­sue rev­o­lu­tion­ary ca­reer along which he con­sumed and pro­duced knowl­edge than any cer­tifi­cated pro­fes­sor of any dis­ci­pline. Trot­sky’s works to this day re­main a foun­tain spring that il­lu­mi­nates the chal­lenges of con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety.

The re­cent con­tro­versy over Pres­i­dent Buhari’s cer­tifi­cate, which though, po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated is not nec­es­sary. A for­mer mil­i­tary head of state, en­rolled in the army dur­ing colo­nial rule would not have risen to the of­fi­cer corp of colo­nial army if he was not qual­i­fied. Even now and through­out the odyssey of his strug­gle par­ti­san pol­i­tics, his wit at pub­lic ban­ters does not be­tray a dull mind. Even a sec­ondary school cer­tifi­cate is by far lower than the ag­gre­gate ex­po­sure of Pres­i­dent Buhari through ex­pe­ri­ence gained in all crit­i­cal sec­tors of our na­tional life, which in­cludes se­cu­rity, econ­omy, gov­er­nance etc.

The noisy de­mand for his school cer­tifi­cate as ev­i­dence for his qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the po­lit­i­cal of­fice he as­pires to, does more to ex­pose the lit­tle minds of his tra­duc­ers and the un­in­tel­li­gent strategem to ex­pose him to ridicule.

While cer­tifi­cate is re­ceipt of aca­demic per­for­mance ac­com­plished, to fetishize it as the ul­ti­mate ex­pres­sion of in­tel­li­gence is it­self, un­in­tel­li­gent. In re­cent times, the ob­ses­sion of cer­tifi­cates, in­clud­ing those awarded for no aca­demic per­for­mance ex­cept for merely been around, like the NYSC dis­charge cer­tifi­cate for which a com­pe­tent fi­nance min­is­ter was hounded out of of­fice, has be­come a bru­tal po­lit­i­cal tool, on which prospec­tive vic­tims are vi­ciously hacked.

The im­pact of the cur­rent pas­time in the po­lit­i­cal ob­ses­sion of aca­demic cer­tifi­cates is to deepen the na­tional mal­ady, where cer­tifi­cate-wor­ship over com­pe­tence and per­for­mance is rife among youths.

To­day, stu­dents in uni­ver­si­ties, other ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions and even sec­ondary schools de­ploy all kind of shenani­gans in­clud­ing bribery, threat and black­mail of teach­ers to ob­tain high marks lead­ing to award of cer­tifi­cates. The cur­rent ob­ses­sion of cer­tifi­cates, through used as po­lit­i­cal tool, is most likely to ex­ac­er­bate the des­per­a­tion to ac­quire cer­tifi­cates among youths with­out the com­men­su­rate aca­demic in­puts, even nar­rowly de­fined.

While it is clearly ad­mit­ted that cer­tifi­cates are nec­es­sary, be­cause it is the con­crete tes­ti­mo­nial for a cer­tain aca­demic at­tain­ment it is a foun­da­tion to im­prove learn­ing and grow.

The em­pha­sis on cer­tifi­cate may pose the dan­ger about cer­tifi­cates been the end of learn­ing. Learn­ing is life-long process be­cause it is through learn­ing that per­spec­tives are re­fined, sharp­ened and deep­ened. It is ac­tu­ally an er­ror for those who re­ferred their pro­fes­sional col­leagues as “learned friends.” It should rather be “learn­ing friends” be­cause the per­ma­nent hunger and taste for knowl­edge is the real stuff of schol­ar­ship. The an­cient Greek philoso­pher, Socrates was pro­claimed by the Greek or­a­cle of Del­phi as the wis­est man on earth but the ever mod­est Socrates re­torted that the only thing he knows is that knows noth­ing.

For any so­ci­ety in des­per­ate need to de­velop; knowl­edge ac­qui­si­tion and pro­duc­tion, the hand­maid for in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity are en­cour­aged to roam free and wide, with­out the in­hab­i­ta­tions of in­tru­sive for­mal­ism.

Mr. Onunaiju is di­rec­tor for Cen­tre for China Stud­ies, Abuja.

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