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Nigeria-Intelligibility,Education,the Scientist and Enlightened Citizenship

Nigerian School Children

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,with the 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 can be understood through reason;that it is possible to generate accurate predictions about the world from certain premises and assumptions.Education,through it’s methodology,is designed to promote faith and confidence in the competence of reason.Reason is a faculty that enables man ascribe a causality to physical phenomena,based on his belief that 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 yesterday.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 take care of business today,to create a better tomorrow.

In advocating a scientific mindset,i am not saying that everybody should be a rocket scientist.No.I am suggesting that our education system be primed to teach the idea of causality;to emphasize the principle that our interventions today determine our future.At the individual level,we can all be social scientists no matter our profession or discipline.The car driver should understand the connection between car-maintenance and car-breakdowns or accidents.The politician should realize that,by arming unemployed youths  in order to steal an election today,he is creating tomorrow’s class of militants.The policy-maker who helps to create soci-economic conditions that make it “normal”,for school-age children to have to go through early morning wrestling sessions,as they fight to buy water and kerosine daily,before heading to school,should know that he is helping to create a generation of people for whom society is a jungle,where only the fittest survive.

Having had to snatch survival from the jaws of privation,daily,these kids will see society as a continuum of adversarial battles,where you survive only by knocking the other person down.Today’s deprived and abused children will grow up to become tomorrow’s enforcers,thugs,shake-down-artists and robbers,depending on whether they end up in the military,police or “politics” or any of their variants.These are not the people to build a great nation.Only enlightened citizens can do that.Education enhances man’ natural teachability so that he understands why governments exist,why laws are made and why those laws should be obeyed.He also understands that society is an organism,interconnected,and that when one part hurts everybody suffers.This is what we should be seeking to achieve with our education system.The education we are offering our children now is too narrow.Especially for science-inclined students.

Our engineers and technical graduates are some of the most narrow-minded people around,because they never really studied the humanities.When you consider that people with science backgrounds are usually entrusted with running our infrastructure,from power-supply,roads,housing,environment to the health ministry,then you can understand why we are in trouble.Do not misunderstand me.As a developing nation,Nigeria needs all the engineers and technical types she can produce,to build and manage our infrastructure.I am just saying they would do a much better job,if they were sociologically aware.Right now,most of them are sociological illiterates.Education should not only teach how to build “objects”,but also how to build a harmonious society.So that whether we are doctors,engineers,teachers,lawyers or politicians,we understand that it is all about standing together in harmony.This is the sort of education we should aim for.


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