Knowledge or certificate, which is more important? Most people would not have any challenge to echo their response as being knowledge. Knowledge is more valuable than a mere certificate which requires knowledge to defend. It is unfortunate that our educational system in Nigeria seems to saliently prioritize certification over knowledge. No wonder, we produce many graduates that seem to know little or less about their chosen field in school. The employers of labor have not helped so much in this regard as most recruitment processes tend to value certificates over knowledge. Many Nigerians believe they need to acquire certificates from abroad to conquer the labor market in the country.
Which is more important, knowledge or certificate? While a certificate is needed to certify that an individual has gained some relevant skills and knowledge, it is worthy to note that knowledge is required to defend the certificate.
Preparation for Exams
The exams concept is designed to assist students to review what they have been taught and confirm the knowledge gained. In my understanding, students should focus on having a deeper knowledge of what has been taught in the class. On the contrary, students often prepare for exams for the purpose of passing them, afterward, they forget what they studied. No wonder many civil engineers graduates from our universities cannot design and maintain our roads, or dams. We bring in “expatriates” from China or India to manage our roads which Nigerians could have done. Sadly, many of these so-called expatriates are technicians. Our Nigeria Ph.D. holders are subjected to learning from a technician that graduated under an educational system that prioritizes knowledge. Bill Gates did not have a formal certificate before Microsoft was born neither was Mark Zuckerberg before we know Facebook.
The Negative Effect of Prioritizing Certificate
The danger of this misplaced priority could be grave especially in the medical community where “all doctors are doctors”. It is possible not to confirm an employee’s employment when the expertise claimed cannot be proved on the job. Imagine the cost of discovering the incompetency of a medical doctor over a period of 3 or 6 months. Many patients’ conditions could have become deteriorated or even die due to the wrong medication or diagnosis. It is interesting to know how business schools are dealing with this problem that seems so salient and scarcely discussed. The grading system has been altered from the conventional system where tests and exams accumulated the overall score. In Lagos Business School, for example, exam accounts for just 30% of the grading system in some courses. Students are graded more in-class participation, and individual and group discussions. This system builds collaboration and teamwork in real life.
Though the grading system for class participation can be said to be subjective, metrics are in place to ensure fairness. If most Nigerian universities can adopt this grading system and teaching pattern, knowledge gained would increase among students. The lecturer would not wait till after exams to know that a student is lagging and needs more attention. The teaching pattern should be aimed at imparting knowledge and not just rolling out hand-out for students to buy. In most cases, the students buy the hand-out, memorize some concepts, and download it in the exams just to pass. Yes, the lecturer might have gained in cash for selling the hand-out but successfully failed to impact knowledge.
Joshua Adeyemi (EMBA27)