Category Archives: Education

Much Ado About A Library

 “A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.” – Shelby Foote

There are various buildings in a school – the lecture halls, the hostels, the restaurants, the admin blocks, the laboratories, etc. – but none is as important as the library. Of the various facilities I utilized in higher school, the library was among the most crucial.

Wikipedia defines a library as a collection of sources of information and similar resources, made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. But I love Cambridge’s two definitions more:

A building, room, or organization that has a collection, especially of books, for people to read or borrow, usually without payment

A collection or set of books or other things, all produced in the same style or about the same subject:

I looked at my course handbook and perused through the requirements for each of the courses for my very first semester. I was familiar with all but one – Engineering Workshop. I have never encountered such subject in secondary school and I was not a student of metal or wood work. The closest I knew was Technical Drawing which metamorphosed into Engineering Drawing. I needed help before lectures began proper. I could only find one in the library.

The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library – Albert Einstein

With a library card, I was able to access the library, perused through the collections and chose a book that answered my questions wholesomely. I read a while in the building but had to borrow the book for further reading. It became the genesis of my constant visit to the library and eventual desire to borrow a book I need to enrich my knowledge.

As Cambridge defined, the use of library is usually without payment. You can say the internet offers more information than the library but how organized are these information gotten from the library? How reliable are the answers google gives to you? Yes, the internet itself is a library, just as you are reading this post but there is a good number of information that is not on the net but is neatly arranged in your school library.

Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one. – Neil Gaiman

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries. –Anne Herbert

As a student, you may not have so much money to buy every book needed for a particular course. You may not have so much cash to visit the café. You may not have data to surf the internet on your phone. You may not even be buoyant enough to own a smartphone. So what do you do? Sit, fold your arms and blame your current situation? There is a library in your school, use it. I prefer to read hard copy documents than the electronic ones. There is also the fun of stumbling upon the book the lecturer uses, accessibility to books with easier explanations, past questions, journals, videos, CDs, and whole world of new things.

Everything you need for better future and success has already been written. And guess what? All you have to do is go to the library. –Henri Frederic Amiel

To have a library card, know the location of a library or even own a library is one thing; the usage and application of the knowledge learnt is another thing entirely. The former is of no use if the latter doesn’t come to pass. It is like have a very beautiful bible that is rarely read. It is like hearing God’s words and refusing to do as He says.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. – James 1:22

There may be no physical library in your community; you can build yours in your room. The bible should be our first piece in our library and is itself a library. It is a collection of God’s words and commandments and a direction to the good life. If you don’t own one, what have you been reading?

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success – Joshua 1:8

Build your personnel library. You may not know all things but with a library you have the opportunity to access all things.

Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. –Sidney Sheldon

Enjoy

@AmosCP

This post was originally published as “The Experience 4 – Where is The Library?” in The Experience Series of The Exceller Blog. Follow for more inspiring posts.

Advertisements

25 September: The Adventure began at FGC Odogbolu Ogun State.

On a cold Harmattan Friday morning of September 1998, I came out of a Peugeot wagon at the parking lot of the federal school I had gained an admission. The wagon had driven through the main gate with the inscription “FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COLLEGE, ODOGBOLU” and the over 400m avenue leading to the parking lot. I couldn’t see the inscription on the building about 50 meters in front of me clearly due to Harmattan effect that hinders visibility. It was 7am and it was a Friday.

fego_logo

The date was 25th September and I was new. I had an immaculate white shirt tucked-in on  a cotton green short with a pair of sandals garnished with white socks. I was timid and the Harmattan coldness had gotten to my bones. I shivered intermediately as I looked from left to right trying to make something out of where I was.

Accompanied by my mother, I carried my metal box on my head walking towards the block in front of the park of which I later understood to be the administrative block. My mum grabbed the Ghana-must-go bag coupled with her handbag clutching my bucket, broom, hoe and cutlass. We took shelter inside the admin block, close to an office which I later knew as Mr. Atiba’s office.

The building was empty, the surrounding compound was deserted and I started to think “where is everybody?”. A little later, before 7:30am, students starting trooping in across the admin block towards a bigger hall. The bigger hall was the Assembly hall. Some students looked and made gestured of which I took as recognizing the new students in town.

While sitting and waiting for what I don’t even know or remember, I realized that some other newbies had arrived as my attention was drawn to the passing students and the cleaning staffs. I saw Gbenga Aideloje, Adebote Tosin, Omosanya Wale and others. I joined a queue which indicated my admission number. 10167 was mine and it is still in my head like my current phone number. If I had been alert, I should have been the numero uno. Nevertheless, I knew I arrived first on that day.

So many other queues and registration points were passed and I realized I was assigned to cross house and JSS1C. There were four houses: Chad, Cross, Niger and Osun. Bimbo, the Room head of cross house in New Block administered to me. He organized junior boys, most probably of JSS3 or JSS2. They carried my luggage and my locker to New Block.

While the various paper works being done, I met Major Emeka and Ogwogwo. We had all attended Kalac Nursery and Primary School in Lagos and even lived close to each other in Lagos. I didn’t know they were here. I was so excited that I forgot I needed food. My mum bought some snacks for me but I didn’t even touch any. I remember giving them to Major or so.

Prior to leaving the admin block finally to the hostel area, I met my guardian, Mr Obalowo. I went to his office with my mum. After some discussions, my mum left for Lagos. Her midwifery was over. It was time to face the music alone.

I walked through the sitting park full of Melina trees and various ceramic chairs. I imagined sitting there and wishing away or taking a relaxation. I strolled on beside the walls of the girls hostel. I didn’t even know it was the girls hostel, but the birds on the tress made a lot of noise. I strolled on, walked passed a big hall with benches and table. I imagined it would be the dining hall, and so it was.

En route New Block, I passed the book shop, the dispensary, the mosque and I arrived. I went into my room only to discover that some other new boys had arrived and were unpacking their luggage. Gbenga, Tosin, Cletus and I were in Room 1 while Soji and three others were in room 2. Bimbo was the room head. I and Cletus were to share a wardrobe.

We erected our mosquito nets, laid our beds, changed to our house wear of yellow check shirt and brown terylene shorts. We kept the room tidy and I studied the brochures and numerous booklets. At 6:15pm, we heard a bell. Food bell.

We walked into the dining hall. The hall was deafening with noise. Plates were banged against each other, so were the tables. Cutleries were used as drum stick and the hall was in disarray. Despite the degree of disarray, pots were moved accordingly to various tables.

Gbam! Gbam!! Gbam!!! “All students keep quiet” “Chad House students, keep quiet” “Osun house students keep quiet” “Cross house students keep quiet” “Niger house students keep quiet”

The hall became tamed and as quiet as a graveyard. You could hear a pin drop.

“For the food we are about to eat, we thank You oh Lord” “Amen!!!!!!”

And the hall returned to status quo. Pots were open at an alarming rate and the covers of the pots banged the floor creating a uniform crashing sound that was so normal to the hall.

I sat and watched as a student came and served us. We were the new bride and we couldn’t even finish our meal. Imagine a meal meant for 14 shared to 4.

“for the food we have eaten, we thank you oh Lord” scattered the crowd into the cool evening breeze outside the hall. The dining hall scene had ended and New Block we went.

I laid on my bed at night and could only smile. What a day. Let’s see how tomorrow would be.

The Adventure had begun.

Feel free to add a comment of your 1st day experience in the comments section below.

Do nominate https://amoscp.wordpress.com as the Best Personal Blog, and Best Faith Based Blog on the Nigerian Blog Awards. I would appreciate your nominations. Thanks

Also Nominate http://soccergunz.wordpress.com as the Best Sports Blog and Best New Blog.

follow on twitter @amoscp

Who is That Kid That Couldn’t Spell Television?

Sitting at the mid-section of the JSS 3C class of Federal Government College, Odogbolu in Ogun State, I was shocked to see a new English language teacher come into the class.

We have been accustomed to our former teacher; a soft lady that pampers us, and behold a tall fair man with an ascent different from the normal Nigerian accent. Without much ado and with the class still in disarray, he wrote “SPELLING” on the chalk board. He shouted “KEEP QUIET!!!”

The scattered class took shape immediately with everybody scampering to any available sit. Our English Language notes flew from our bags to our desk with amazing speed garnished with fear. Fear of the unknown.

10 words were called out and in my naivety of English words, despite being a 13 year old, I wrote the words down as I heard it. Notable among the words spelt is “TELEVISION”. I couldn’t spell an electronic item that I used every day in my house. I couldn’t spell television. I spelt it as “TV”.

That was my worst ever performance in spelling. After the words were marked I could only get about 3 over 10. Luckily for me, it wasn’t a part of the termly assessment. I looked at myself in awe.

All this happened years ago, but the memories still linger. The Okokomaiko center of the Kingdom Recovery Church Youth is organizing a spelling bee on the 18th of August. Don’t miss it. Come and watch young teens as they spell their way to happiness.

Young ones out there don’t feel so bad if you aren’t getting it right now. You can start now and make it right. No time is too late to know. It is better late than never. You can learn anything you want to learn. You can be who you want to be. Just decide and act towards your decision.

Parent, guardians and mentors, take it easy on your children and wards. He might be worse today but his greatness is grooming up to surprise you. Just believe and Pray. He Watches. He Hears. He gives Wisdom. He is Jesus Christ.

Yes, I am that kid that couldn’t spell TELEVISION. I am Chibuzor Amos. @amoscp

ASUU Strikes: Can’t You Get Any Positives?

Walking down the stairs of the New Lecture Theatre which is popularly called 500 capacity hall in the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, I felt down-casted and pondered on my performance on my just concluded Engineering Thermodynamics (ENG 209).

I walked into that hall about an hour ago looking vibrant and confident, rearing to go, gingered to overcome the hurdle of two infamous lecturers that had handled that course. I answered onlyone question out of four. I resolved to asking, neck-stretching and eye focusing. Yet I know I was below par.

The exam was drawing near and I began to shiver knowing I had a lot to cover before the first semester exams. Then came the savior: STRIKE. ASUU STRIKE.

The announcement of the strike was received with mixed feelings but the continuity of no school activity after 2 weeks meant we had to leave school environment. Home I went but not empty handed. I bought, for the first time in FUTO, a past question. You can guess the course: ENG 209. My experience with Thermo made me prepare for the computer course CSC 201 by purchasing its pass question as well.

The strike lasted for about two months and the students returned to continue their education. 2 weeks after the resumption of activities, the first semester examination began. This was the year 2007 for 2006/2007 academic session.

Why am I relating this story? Recently the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have embarked on an indefinite strike following issues with the Federal Government. Their Polytechnic counterpart (ASUP) has since begun theirs a month earlier.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has embarked on an indefinite strike following the failure of the federal government to implement part of the 2009 agreement reached by the two parties.

The union’s demands include the upward review of the retirement age for professors from 65 to 70; adequate funding to revitalise the university system; progressive increase of budgetary allocations to the education sector by 26 per cent; transfer of federal government property to universities; setting up of research and development units by companies; payment of earned allowances; and renegotiation of the signed agreement. – Thisday 2nd July, 2013

Why this is widely seen as a disaster to the education of so many young Nigerians and a disgrace to the nation, there might be a degree of positivity in this recently announced ASUU strike, especially for the students themselves.

I benefitted from that strike in 2007 because it gave me time to read intensively ENG 209 and CSC 201. I read and answered all questions in the past questions I bought. I reworked every question thrice and above. I read from kpali to kpali. It reflected in my result. I got A’s in those two courses.

So what benefit can Nigerian youths get from this shut-down of the higher educational system?

  • A time to read up, cover up and read ahead of syllabus for the semester.
  •  A time to intensify research and projects, especially for final year students
  • A time to seek little experience in non-formal education and work
  • An additional time for those looking for internship to get one
  • An extra time to learn more and extend internship period with firms
  • A time to relax from the routine schedule of the higher institution
  • A time to plan for the coming semester
  • A time to travel and go for excursion
  • A time to be with relations and loved ones
  • A time to add value to yourself other than lecture room values
  • A time to explore other options
  • A time for trial and error
  • A time to re-evaluate your objectives and goals
  • A time to seek God’s face
  • A time that would never be again…..

There are a lot of things that you can do now. Don’t just sit there in your sofa and heap blame form morning to evening on the federal government or the academic staff union. Do something meaningful and add value to yourself.

You may never know how much time you have lost until it is too late. You won’t know how important this time is as regards your life until it has passed. I wouldn’t like you to say “had I known”.

Stop. Plan. Use this time very well and you would excel greater than you expect.

follow on twitter @amoscp

The Last UTME and The Reality

Under the shade of a coconut tree, one of many properly lined trees along the fence of Christ Apostolic Grammar School, Iperu, Ogun State, I sat on a pavement basking in the filtered morning sun rays and perusing Chinua Achebe’s last gift to mankind: There was a country. I had taken a friend to the UTME centre and I waited outside the school walls alongside parents and guardians who had escorted their children wards or friends.

 

The discussions amidst the people waiting outside the JAMB centre ranged from indecent dressing of some of the candidates to the rate of speed of vehicles plying the old Ibadan road where the school was located. Their discus was momentarily diverted to the rigorous and funny search patterns of the NSCDC officials at the gate of the school. The Iperu centre is just one of many centres scattered nationwide.

 

I behaved indifferent to their discus but listened to their utterances which were mostly in the native Yoruba language of the area. They bemoaned the inequality of HND and Bachelors and thus the relative inferiority of the polytechnics to the universities. Voices were raised, points were made, faults were pointed but the discus of the final scrapping of the UTME caught my attention.

The Federal Government had, about a month before this UTME day (27th April, 2013), announced their plan to scrap the UTME organized by JAMB. This pronouncement signals the end of the UTME series to the glory of many secondary school leavers who had been left stranded due to their incapability to scale UTME, more or less post-UTME. The Joint Admission Matriculation Board, JAMB, would continue to exist but its major weapon, UTME, may have had its last bite on Saturday. JAMB would only be a regulatory body to rectify admission into higher institutions.

 

The onus of method of entrance now falls squarely on the higher institutions. The post-UTME or post-JAMB as it is popularly called has been the final hurdle every candidate must pass before he/she becomes a bona fide undergraduate. They must reach a predetermined cut-off mark from their Universal Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME. They should also have passed the right O’ level subjects in their Senior Secondary Certificate Examination be it WAEC or NECO.

 

We all know that the post-UTME came into existence in 2005 due to the frailties and insufficiency of JAMB in producing students that could defend their UTME scores. It wasn’t rare to see a candidate scoring350/400 in JAMB but can’t understand Basic English or basic science, if he claims to be a science student. Special centers bridled with gross malpractice produced such undone candidates for the higher institutions to absorb.

 

The post-UTME was a success in its first year, 2005,where it came as a surprise to many, if not all. All round the federation,candidates admitted into higher institutions in late 2005 have been said to be the best in a long time. As the years went by, the post-UTME became adulterated much more than has been known in the UTME. Mercenaries now make their way into the exam halls with prior knowledge of the questions. School became vulnerable and money became the keyword instead of excellence. Post-UTME fees skyrocketed and questions began to leak. Back to square one!!

 

So now, the real questions are: can our higher institutions manage the admission of students well? Can they effectively select intelligence over bribery and favoritism? Would they uphold their school values of hard work and shun the love of money and the deceit thereof? What will be the criteria on the admission?

 

The higher institutions would need to scheme out a unique method of selecting the best among the teeming Nigerian youths aiming to get a higher education. They may choose to conduct an aptitude test and use it with WAEC to select. They might rather just use the WAEC results alone to admit students as it is done in UK. They might even incorporate a mini-interview for verification and clarification.

 

This brings us to our Senior Secondary Certification Examinations conducted by the West African Examination Council;, WAEC and the National Examination Council, NECO. NECO has been scrapped with UTME and the only available exams for SSCE would be WAEC. The SSCE system has rot so deep that I wonder if a WAEC result could be able to tell the capability of the student.

 

So many government approved schools lack standard laboratories and lack quality teachers yet the churn out secondary school leavers with questionable amazing results. This is becoming the trend of many new private schools. I have come across a school where no science student inSS3 could define chemistry and the meaning of intangible to a student ready for commerce is “irrelevant”. I could only shake my head and mourn the good old days and the near perfect schools. I attended a Unity school and I am proud of the quality of education I received from my Alma mater.

 

It is high time government officials in charge of the education sector stopped throwing blind eyes to this inglorious academic mishap. If we can’t save our educational sector, we can’t save Nigeria’s future. The higher institutions should admit on merit and shun bribery and corruption. They must save and uphold the name of their school.

 

After all, the National Universities Commission,NUC, has ranked the universities and all Nigerians have seen. Let the higher schools stand up and pivot our better Nigeria. Let the learning condition be encouraging, adequate and competitive. Every school should do better to up their rank on the NUC and even the Webometrics world and African ranking. We can do it.

 

Enough of Socratic rants. Let’s save education, let’s save Nigeria.

follow on twitter @amoscp