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Nigeria-The Scientific Mind:Intelligibility,Legacy of Irrationality,Education and Planning.

Nigerian Students

The material universe is intelligible.Intelligible because it can be understood or comprehended.This means the world in which we live,in all it’s aspects,can be known.If the world can be understood,if the world is really knowable,then it can be predicted.If the world is predictable,then it’s behaviour must be driven by certain laws.Whether it is in the area finance,economy,health-care,social harmony,security or politics,there are certain laws at work.The universe is law-ordered.In order to dominate his environment,as is man’s duty and ambition,it is necessary for him to discover these laws and understand their operations.

Man is an intelligent being,withthe ability to grasp,learn or understand things.Man’s teachability,not only in his ability to learn,but also in his capacity for teaching others,led to the invention of education.A process for transmitting knowledge,skills and values from one generation to the next,education is man’s great ally,in his task of understanding the world around him.Education is about building predictive capacity.Education is about helping man become scientific:one who believes that the universe is subject to reason.That it is possible to generate accurate predictions about the world from certain premises and assumptions.Education promotes faith and confidence in the competence of reason.

Reason is a faculty that enables man ascribe a causality to physical phenomena.In other words,things do not just happen,they are caused.This allows him to describe and understand the world in terms of cause and effect.The ability to exercise reason is a feature of rationality.Our people(Nigerians) are intelligent,like other human beings.But how rational are we?While intelligence is just a capacity to comprehend,grasp or understand things,rationality goes deeper.Rationality also includes the ability to make decisions on the basis of cost-benefit analysis.This means being able to take decisions that are necessary to achieving goals that are desirable,whether at the individual or group level.

The truth is that the Nigeria we have today is no accident.It is the product of the missteps of the past.By the same token,the Nigeria of the future will reflect the decisions we take today, or fail to take.Whether we acknowledge it or not,one plus one will always give two.Facts cannot be changed by denial.A better Nigeria can only result,if we all make good decisions today.We have to learn to plan.There is no free lunch anywhere.As the saying goes,”those who fail to plan,are planning to fail”.Just like houses which deteriorate physically without proper maintenance,nations are subject to the law of entropy:disorder increases with time.This is an idea we have to get hold of.We have to work to create a better Nigeria.A good education system would be of immense help.

In advocating a scientific mindset,i am not saying that everybody should be a scientist or engineer,though we need plenty of those,no.I am suggesting that our education system be primed to teach the idea of causality.To emphasize the principle that our interventions determine the state of our world.Especially at a social level.The irony is that the least scientific people,socially,are those with science or engineering backgrounds.Our scientists,doctors and engineers are some of the most socially unconscious and narrow-minded people around.And this,because their graduate-education did not include the humanities:history,literature.I studied physics,so i know.This narrow education means they are unable to appreciate society as a social organism,interconnected,which suffers as a whole if any one part hurts.It is a paradox that in order to promote a scientific orientation,we need to teach scientists and engineers the humanities.

See you in the comments.

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3 responses to “Nigeria-The Scientific Mind:Intelligibility,Legacy of Irrationality,Education and Planning.

  1. codliveroil January 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Education is the key to the future. Look at any advanced society and you see that they invest heavily in education at all levels.

    The Scandinavians lead the way, teachers are some of the most highly paid professionals in the country, this is the importance the role of education is given in their society. Compare that to Nigeria where education at all levels is in disrepair. Teachers are poorly paid and lack motivation.

    Look at South Korea at the end of the Korean war (their country was in ruins), look where they are today (a completely developed country with the highgest provision of broadband internet available to the general public). Was it a fluke that they were able propel South Korea into the OECD club and one of the strongest economies in the world? I think not.

    Of course we can also look at China and India and look at the enormous strides those countries have taken, again they invest heavily in education. India is doing particularly well in this regard with regards to science, technology and medicine. They are producing graduates that their economy needs.

    Sadly, this can’t be seen in Nigeria, everything must be a quick fix, a short-cut done of the snap of the fingers. That may work occasionally but not consistently in the life of a nation. Instead Nigeria’s lecturers and professors are known to give rise to disreputable individuals like “Professor ” Iwu, former head of INEC, and the many lecturers whose only aim is to extract bribes (from all students) and procure sex from attractive female students at universities, to award them good grades.

    With the collapsing health care system. The middle class have no choice but to send their children abroad, where they have to pay very high fees, and further contribute to the demise of the country as very few of the children will want to return to Nigeria, to eek out a living, when they can do better elsewhere.

    Strategic long-term planning by apolitical technocrats to draw up a blue print, that looks beyond the 4/5 year term of government. Strategic goals have to be met, milestones laid out and reached in due course to ensure that Nigeria is no longer the class drop out on the world stage or even the African stage. In short politicians need to become serious, and less prone to gimmicks or half-baked ideas.

    • henryik2009 January 21, 2011 at 10:30 am

      Hi Codliveroil
      Thanks for your comment.Education is the key.Not only because of the knowledge it imparts,but also because it promotes teachability.A more teachable populace would be more law-abiding,as people can understand the relationship between their actions and the resulting circumstances.

  2. codliveroil January 18, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Sorry in the penultimate paragraph I should have said collapsing education system not collapsing health care system.

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