OPINION | When Your Certificate Becomes Your Undoing… 

*Mr. Chuks Ogbekile, entrepreneurial life coach



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By Chuks Ogbekile
Permit me to start here with a quote attributed to Mark Twain:
Don’t let your schooling interfere with your education
Schooling and Certificates were birthed in the industrial age when the Industrialists needed more hands in the factories. They then took the steering of the education curriculum to steer it to the direction that suits their purposes. The government watched helplessly as these industrialists, to a large extent, equally controlled power.
Consequent upon this, students were now raised to suit the capitalist interests of these Industrialists and not for the development of their individual potentials. With time, they began to raise the bar by classifying the level of education into degrees and hence the award of certificates to substantiate your claim of attaining some level of academic learning desired by the capitalists and for the capitalists.  Developing your potentials was not in the picture as it may not suit their needs. A One-Fits-All system of learning or call it schooling was now designed for innocent and unsuspecting learners. Hence, in the words of Dr. Myles Munroe: “We were miseducated’. We never bothered as long as we are given (or awarded?) a decorated paper called Certificate. We felt cool because it gives us the sense of ” I better pass my neighbor”. A Certification that trashed our athletic, human relations, oratory potentials that even distinguishes people today before our own very eyes. Hence, the certificated and academically adjudged excellent learners ended up not being celebrated today. This miseducation was defied when Comedians, Sportsmen, great Public Speakers, and life coaches began to spring up. What could be as bad as the fact that some great corporate organizations now don’t require your degree certificate but what they see as your potential as their necessary criteria for your employment? Examples include Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Virgin Atlantic among others. Why are our certificates turning to mere “decorated papers” before our very eyes? The to this question may not be far from the recent level liberty realization engendered by failure of certification in solving today’s problems and fueled by unlimited access to information via the internet. This inherited and never-to-be-questioned schooling system handed us never thought us how to think, how to handle failure, how to impact, how to make and handle money, how to discover and maximize our potentials, how to create jobs, how to manage time, how to communicate and engage in quality human relations, and leadership.
The societies where this challenge is being addressed are the better for it while we, particularly in Nigeria, are getting so lost in it that every child that finishes secondary education must go to the University. After this University education, they think they have paid their dues. We are the most certificated black people in the world but still depend on neighboring West Africa nations for Bricklayers, Plumbers, Masons, Cabinet Builders, etc.
How can we get out of this condition?
 Any education today that must bring changes in our lives or the society generally must be adaptable to our immediate environment and have global relevance. Charity, they say, begins at home. It has come to a time that our learning should be channeled towards the development of our potentials to solve our problems and to export solutions to the global community. Every one of us has the potentials that will remove Nigeria from the problems she found herself. I believe that as our thumbprints are unique, so we have unique potentials that can salvage this country of her numerous surmountable challenges and impact the global village we live in. This can only be useful through individual potential realization and development of such potentials through consciously selected formal and informal means of skills acquisition. How can we attain this?
1. Change of attitude. The educated must know that while schooling may end, education or relevant learning is a lifetime journey. Recently I was going through a book on Goat Rearing when a ‘supposedly’ educated adult rebuked me for still looking at Books. In his words: “who spoilt you? Must you read till you enter the grave?”. That is the average “educated person” in our part of the world. We need a paradigm shift in our attitude towards education and in differentiating schooling from education. We must come to the realization that a certificate is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. You are educated when you engage in continuous learning towards self-discovery, potential development and impacting your world positively.
2. Self-discovery. In the words of Socrates: “Oh Man, know thyself”. The major goal of education is self-discovery. Education awakens us to our potentials, polish it and makes it beneficial to us and our world. The major challenge is that our formal education curricular has not been able to sufficiently do these for us. It then behooves you as an individual to look inward through diligent internal environment scanning. Ask yourself some basic questions and give honest answers to them. Draw a list of all you do. Filter it down to the once you do with the utmost ease. Filter it further to those relevant skills you can even forgo food or money even while you do them. To the point that your basic motivation for doing it is just doing it. It may be different from what you studied in school, develop it and follow it. You will always be your best in it.
3. Continuous study. The relevant, focused and diligent study improves potentials. No potential can continuously remain at the bottom where there is a continuous onslaught of diligent study. It polishes your skills and makes them marketable. Most readers are leaders. Leverage on materials on the internet, buy quality and relevant books, turn your smartphone to a link to resources that can improve your skills. Devote quality time to studying. We are in an information age, knowledge distinguishes. You can cross Professional barriers and enter into other professions through personal knowledge acquisition. Don’t let what you did in school limit you.
4. Pursue your skills. It is only on rare occasions that what we study in a school match our potentials or skills. In some cases, we cannot even relate what we studied in a school to the skill needs in society. Some applicants have had to find it difficult explaining to the potential employers where they would be relevant in his/her establishment. Then end up confusing the employer the more. It has come to a time, in the face of this realization of the deficiency of our education system, that we must not be tied to our certificates. I have seen a lot of people doing something different from what they did in school. You can take Entrepreneurial adventures into Agriculture, Education, Public Speaking, Digital Marketing, Website design, Career Guidance & Counselling, Music, Events Management, Photography among others and still realize your dream of wealth and freedom, even when you didn’t study them in school.
Graduates should come down from their white Horses and fill the skill gaps staring us in the face in this country. Free yourself from the definition your schooling gave you and pursue your dreams through leveraging your potentials and that of others to create viable businesses. You may need to leave what you studied at school alone to get to your city of Eldorado. Remember, none but ourselves can free our own minds.
*Ogbekile is and Entrepreneurial Life Coach.
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