Master of none
Masters of None.
Jack of all trades, master of none. This is a pithy saying expressed to describe a person who dabbles in many skills but has expertise in none. But I'd like to look at this from a different angle today.
Let me be candid with you upfront, as far as Nigeria is concerned I am not a big fan of post-graduate studies. I am a staunch believer in education, particularly skill acquisition, than scholarship for its own sake; or scholarship for the sake of prestige and pride. I make bold to say that this is one of our major problems in Nigeria.
Our focus is chiefly on scholarship rather than skill; certificate rather than competence, and honours rather than impact.
For this reason I have come to substantially dislike post-graduate studies for Nigerians. You do not and cannot impress me by telling me you have a Masters degree in so and so. It doesn't work for me anymore. It used to, but that was before.
The number of awards and honors after your name are absolutely nothing to Olakunle Allison because that is not what Nigeria desperately needs. It's not what the world needs. That's why it is a problem. Another example of Nigeria's priority problem.
When I see young adults who are eager to go for their Masters program, whether in Nigeria or abroad, I always ask myself;
"What is the goal?",
"To what end?",
I want practical and scientific answers.
Is it because it is a cool thing to have a Master degree or a PhD? Is it because that is the trend? Is it because of social status or accolades? Is it because your friends already have their Masters? Is it because you just love to see yourself in a graduation 🎓 gown? Is it because you want to increase your employability?
What advantage would your Master degree bring to Nigeria's dwindling fortunes?
Why should we have so many Master degree holders and PhDs in Nigeria and still import virtually everything?
Why should we brag about so many Master Degree holders and PhDs and yet cannot invent and innovate competitively in a fast-paced world of science and technology? Virtually every technology and method we use is imported and/or copied!
How many patents (registered ideas, inventions and innovations) in science, technology, education, agriculture etc are owned by Master degree holders and PhDs in Nigeria?
Or, do we just love scholarship for its own sake?
These are questions that should give us pause and a moment of sober reflection. Your Master degree is useless (and I do not respect it) if your country still imports toothpicks and pens.
I choose skill above scholarship anytime anyday. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and the Google Guys are not Master degree holders or PhDs, but they've solved more problems for humanity and would leave this world a much better place than one million Nigerian scholars combined.
You see guys, I used to work in the same office with a postgraduate colleague who was pursuing a Master degree, and yet I handled the more complex court cases. I also played the role of an advisor to this colleague on some litigation procedures. That's skill at work, even though I had no Master degree.
Frankly speaking, I have spoken with and heard a few postgraduate students communicate and I must confess that I was not often impressed. That is what happens when people pursue scholarship just for its own sake. They have Master degrees but have mastered nothing. At least nothing beneficial to Nigeria in tangible and significant terms.
Our educational philosophy must change. Our educational model must change. Our motivation for education must change. We fantasize about degrees and certificates too much as if they are ends in themselves. What is the point in having so many 'scholars' who cannot fill the vacuum and proffer practical and real solutions to Nigeria's basic problems? To think that some of our politicians have many degrees.
I don't care how many academic honours you have on your wall, and honestly nobody should care. What matters is what you intend to do with them.
We can do better than this.