Sifting through the pages of history, checking the ranks of excellence and strolling down the walkways of life, the sparkling insignia of education which was affixed to the names of heroes and heroines caught my attention. The new generation beholds the illustrious works of great men and women who dared to make the world a better place. They read the squiggling of sages on the parchments of history in a bid to drink from the wellsprings of knowledge the ancients used as the source of their strength. Inasmuch as the antediluvian era celebrated men who championed the tempestuous course of freedom and upheld the thorny pillars of justice, they all took three square meals on the table of education.
Education can simply be defined as the act of acquiring and imparting knowledge through teaching and learning. Education is an embodiment of literacy and competence. School and institutions serve as restaurants were individuals feast on the tasty meals of knowledge given by teachers and lecturers. Literacy is the ability to read and write and this shows the thick line between illiterates and literates. In Africa, it is believed that once you possess the capacity to read and write, then you are literate and you are better off than the meager farmers in the village who could hardly write their own names. Is that the essence of education? Competence is the ability to do something well; a doing which is as a result of knowledge gained through learning or training. When seeds of literacy and competence are planted in the deepest soils of the mind of an individual, the mind becomes an educated one. Competence is what assists an individual to thrive in a world ruled by the law of competition.
Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge. What is the essence of amassing knowledge without applying it? Why will you burn night candles to get a distinction in Biology and yet you don’t have a good personal hygiene? Why study Chemistry and yet you don’t know how dangerous petrol could be? It is pathetic to see youths in their numbers who are proud to be First Class graduates but yet cannot do anything with what they claim to have learnt. It is frustrating to see students extol literacy and denigrate competency. Some technicians who have never been to the four walls of an institution are miles ahead of some so-called engineers in terms of providing viable solutions to problems. Good enough if you can read or write English language, a five year old in Manchester should be able to do that brilliantly. There is more to education than wearing a three-piece suit and sitting in an air-conditioned office.
Nelson Mandela in his words described education as the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world. In other words education gives you an empowerment which makes you an instrument of change. If you claim to be educated and you are not responsible for a positive change, then you have to check your status. When you gain knowledge, it sets you free from the shackles of ignorance and it empowers you to help others in your sphere of influence. When you are well informed; you evade some precarious situations. Positive changes have been experienced over the years in different sectors of life because of the involvement of educated individuals.
Education has no doubt aided invention which resulted into modern day civilization and technology. The competence inscribed by education on the hearts of young minds gave birth to an unquenchable curiosity which made them unparalleled inventors of all times. American prolific inventor, Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, Scottish scientist, Alexander Graham Bell made communication easy with telephones, the Wright brothers made a mockery of the law of gravity with their high-flying planes and Karl Benz of Germany solved the challenge of transportation with automobiles. These inventions solved problems bedeviling the world; hence they changed the world with flaming torches of education which they held firm in their hands on the podium of excellence.
The effect of education in the area of leadership cannot be overemphasized. According to John C. Maxwell, an American author and orator, “Leadership is influence”. Majority of world leaders that are educated have exuded great intelligence when it comes to leadership, this has helped them to influence their followers in a positive way. Such leaders were able to make good decisions which were able to take their countries in the right direction towards success. American President, Franklin Roosevelt exhibited mental prowess and mettle which was enough to see America through the World War II. India still recalls the conscientious efforts of the pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India, Mahatma Gandhi. The literate voices of Nelson Mandela penetrated the thickets of apartheid in South Africa until victory was achieved. The leadership of these educated minds changed the world.
Education creates a good atmosphere which enhances a civic-minded followership. This type of followership will yield constructive criticisms which are capable of detecting any kind of subterfuges that their leaders might employ. This is the reason why American Presidential Debates play key roles in whom emerges as the winner of the election. The Presidential Debate in America has more glamour than Nigeria’s Presidential Debate (if one exists) because of the sharp contrast in the literacy level of both countries. Leaders will be on their toes if their followers are well educated about Politics, Civic rights and core issues of governance. Education is powerful! It is capable of pulling down nebulous empires built by tyrants.
You can be the change you wish to see if you will maximize the knowledge you have to provide pertinent solutions to problems in your vicinity. Apply the knowledge you have acquired and be a quintessence of wisdom. When we fail to apply the knowledge, we simply deny education its changing power. The true essence of education in life is to be a change, a problem solver and a shining light that chase darkness into obscurity.
OSHO SAMUEL ADETUNJI