The common pedagogical approach with which many of us were introduced to the English alphabet is a metaphor for all the anomalies and confusions that characterise Nigerian education at all levels. First off, going from the minor to the major issue, one wonders what exactly is being taught when teachers say A for Apple. Are we being taught letter A or sound /ˈæ/? When they say C for Cat, are we thinking of letter c or sound /k/?
While this, for starters, is a pedagogical deficiency which I am not out to address in this essay, the bigger concern is why A cannot stand for Agama which the African child can easily find on his way home from school. Apple is the fruit for the well-to-do families. You must have a healthy esteem to say publicly that you prefer orange to apple. You might be thought of to have entered into a covenant with poverty. The metaphor of apple has a great ideological conditioning for Nigeria and its effect gets wider by the day.
The negative implication of this analogy manifests in several perspectives– social, psychological, religious and educational.
Socially we have come to attach importance to anything that is foreign such that Italian shoes are for the socialites and “Aba” have to be for the poor. At the level of religion, the Christians and Muslims are entitled to several holidays in a year while the traditional worshippers have to beg for one day holiday in their own land. Psychologically, the Nigerian youth can call you all sort of names if you think they need not “japa” (leave the country) to enjoy a good life. And to my concern: education.
Now in Nigeria, you must be doubting the paternity of your children to let them have their tertiary education in Nigeria unless you cannot afford it. Well, let us not scratch the part of these children returning to practice law, journalism, medicine and other professions in Nigeria without native intelligence. Shall we take a step farther? If our so-called international conferences must be one of the most talked about on campus, then you have to get the keynote speaker from South Africa if you cannot afford the cost of bringing one from South America.
Remember too that even a local journal in Nigeria may reject your submission if you have not applied a “foreign” theory that may have no contextual relevance to your inquiry. And of course you are not a first-class professor if you have not published in those foreign high-impact journals. Your doctorate is a local piece if you have not got a postdoctoral fellowship from the white. Of course nobody sees your impact on your campus until you get a foreign validation when you travel for a conference or you are invited by the almighty white for a presentation.
When will A stop being for Apple in Nigeria? When will we find our bearings? When will our education suit our purpose and solve our problems? When will education mean more than certification in Nigeria? When will ingenuity be restored into our education? When will final year projects be aimed at addressing issues and stop being a ritual for graduation? When will we take clue from the Nigerian hip-hop artistes who have established throughout the world that the “Afro version” is a unique musical flavour?
When will A stop being for Apple in Nigeria?
Dr. Ganiu Bamgbose (PhD) writes from the Department of English, Lagos State Un