ACE Film Director, Producer Mr Oreofe Williams Wrote Recently about the Greatest Errors in Nigerian University.
Read and learn.
Few years ago, after being introduced to a lecturing job in a University, one of the things I discovered was that the Nigerian University System is not designed to solve the unemployment problem in Nigeria because of their theoretical approach. So we were producing more academically brilliant students and less intelligently pragmatic students.
Eventually, the first class and second-class upper division graduates littered the streets looking for jobs while third-class graduates created jobs. In less than two years, I resigned and went back to my full-time filmmaking and I decided to float THE CITY OF TALENTS ACADEMY where I designed a pragmatic curriculum, different from memorizing Aristotle, Sophocles and Euripides. As the best graduating student of my set in the University, 70 percent of what brings me wealth today were not learnt in school. There was no curriculum that released us to seek practical knowledge. I had to go out of school running after Deji Adenuga, Yemi Shodimu(who built me as Radio and TV presenter), Dele Odule(one of Nigeria’s most resourceful actors till date), Antar Laniyan(a quitessential director) etc.
Of course I learnt about stage ethics from the Legend Pa Charles Shomade, I knew I needed more than the theories I knew. For instance, some Universities permit their students to go on SIWES or IT for not more than a month. What do you expect a student to learn in one month other than buying rice and dodo for his master? At THE CITY OF TALENTS, our SIWES students make a film and submit in school; the corpers serving with us create their jobs before they leave. So many of them send me recharge cards when they leave. Recharge cards may be nothing to some but they are so cherished by me because they are coming from business owners I raised.
As a University Tyro, I remember how my Vice-Chancellor at that time took up a newspaper where I had granted an interview and publicly condemned me at the Senate. It was a saburious destruction of my love for that school. I didn’t know the VC had noticed one naughty idiot parading himself as an actor on campus. He wasn’t probably informed that I had been staging plays since my secondary school as President of the Drama Club of Ijebu-Ode Grammar School. He didn’t know that as an undergraduate, I staged 23 plays on campus,some of which had popular nollywood actors as guests. He didn’t know that a sitting Governor led an entourage to watch my performance at a time. He didn’t know that as a Lecturer of Theatre Arts, I had begun to introduce students to things that will give them jobs after graduation. The first Theatre Workshop I handled fetched so much that the students had to buy so many facilities for the department.
By the way, how does a Vice-Chancellor expect a Theatre Arts Lecturer to sit down and teach ‘pythagoras theorem’? I thought his interest should have been in probing whether this actor-lecturer missed his classes. As Lecturer, I fixed all my film locations at weekends. I didn’t blame my VC later because I realised it was him God used to open my eyes that working as University teacher was a waste of destiny for me. I have the passion to teach but may be I could try as a visiting technocrat. I don’t have the money I desire but I have the fulfillment. Perhaps, less of our students would never have gone into Yahoo if someone told them what they could create legally.
Today, I am privileged to always have so many young people around me. And I think it is because I show them the way. I tell them to ‘get a degree but make a decree’ about their lives. While others carry CVs about looking for jobs, my mentees ‘are their own CVs’. Unfortunately, most jobs advertised by Companies had been shared before advertisement. The paper announcement is a formality.
Just this year 2019 alone and in only 3 academic sessions, THE CITY OF TALENTS ACADEMY has trained 217 students among whom are actors, cinematographers and editors. What I did was to transport all my ideas I had wanted to sink in the University into my private institution. 64 percent of my students are on scholarship. I process admission for some and when they get to school, they lead their departments.
Infact, I am aware of graduates who didn’t know more than theories in Universities but had to drop their certificates after NYSC and re-enrol in our Academy just to provide jobs for themselves and others.
Can I shock you a moment? I have more undergraduates around me than some departments in higher institution. This is because I have taught them that they should not only be interested in cramming and possessing papers, they must be interested in creating jobs from now.
There is a course on entrepreneurship where students are taught what to do to support their talents. We have those who make soaps, air-freshners and perfumes, among others.
It is another opportunity to meet with these talents today at Ibadan, Nigeria. I was surprised a young talent flew in to Nigeria yesterday from Burkina Faso to study our school. Why would anyone in the Southwest tell you Ibadan is far?
You have a talent we can develop and there are skills you can acquire.
There may be no job in town but you are the JOB you are looking for!
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Excerpts by Adegoke Ayobami