First Class Graduates and Urgent 2k Prize

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It was a cosy Saturday night as I set to rest my head on the pillow waiting patiently to catch some sleep, then a viral photo caught my attention while surfing through the web.

Guess what? It was a bank cheque with a caption “University honours first class graduate with urgent 2k”. Really? This must have been a reward for excellence; my guess is as good as yours.

Imagine finishing top of your class after many nights of burning the candles, doing Till Day Breaks (TDB) back to back, and a lot of crash readings, graduated as a first class student but given 2k as reward for your academic performance instead of job offer. But who are we to blame? The system or the government?

Gone are the days when excellence is highly rewarded and sacrifices for hard work greatly appreciated but now is the era where entertainers earn more accolades than academics; reality Tv stars gaining momentum than first class graduands; artistes getting more recognition than geniuses in citadel of learning. What has really changed overtime?

Compensating hard work in monetary value is not as good as empowering the recipients of these award of degrees with a long lasting programme that will bring about change and development to the society at large. Would rather advocate for a system that provides automatic employment for first class graduates than an awkward system that gives meaningless cash reward with no impact. 

A responsible institution recognises smart brains by empowering them with the ingredients that they need to secure a better future, not by giving them mumbo-jumbo kind of reward which is not a felt need. 

As far as Nigerians are concerned, this tradition of giving peanuts to first class graduates all in the name of empowering them should be eradicated if truly we must compete with global standards and make Nigeria a country to beat in terms of educational prowess. 

We can’t afford to be encouraging this show of shame while others are creating systems that spur young people into taking necessary actions that are aimed at developing their climes.

When you have those that claimed to be leaders encouraging these kind of eye service, how are we going to improve our standard of education as time goes by. 

It won’t be a surprise when passion for excellence starts going into extinction (if it hasn’t started declining already) because we fail to address some of these fundamental issues affecting our polity. 

It is high time we started paying attention to those things that are sine qua non to human capital development and leave the necessary evils to where they belong. First class graduands deserve more than urgent 2k!

– Arogbonlo Israel, a journalist and good governance advocate, writes from Lagos.


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