In the midst of what we claim to know too well are things we do not really know. In our illusion of knowing a lot, we still come to know a little more from time to time in our knowing (reconsideration). The mind that really knows, appreciates a kind of knowing. It is uncommon knowing because simply knowing about things does not get one to all knowing. Modesty does. It always query those who think they know it all.
Every day we are confronted with knowing and doing deficit in all spheres of life. The gap of reality and attainment differ in proportions and margins. The desire to fill gaps naturally cause perspiration, inspiration, creativity even behaviors on borderline animality!
Gaps are permanent feature of lives. They force us to think, respond or we may chose to remain docile. Sometimes gaps are seen to be filled but not permanently because we live in world of gaps. Gaps can’t be wished away. Bridge over gaps is never fully built in mankind’s history.
But should we always think only in terms of gaps? No. Would thinking in terms of gaps not make man a struggling fish in endless ocean or space? A bid to fill all space in endless space is illusory. It cannot be life best endeavour. Life is beyond individual’s empty space. Additional space in thought, in the world and in the universe extends the challenge.
Efforts to reduce this gap compels advances in many ways. As individuals there is constant challenge to manage the gaps in our personal lives. The human society makes it doubly difficult for many to manage their gaps. But no one can really manage the gap for you since some aspects of the gap cannot be managed by others. Therefore, evolving some ways to deal with gaps is imperative. Remember that in doing this there are , physical, spiritual and ethical dimensions to it.
Another challenge is the perception of the gap. Perception derives from many forces at work at different times. Cultural orientation untamed births something unique even dangerous and could complicate efforts at filling individual and societal gaps. Culture can create endemic and ‘perpetual void and illusion’. It could create half knowing of things – a kind of ojedebe na uzo, half measures incapable of any advance. Such half measures are observable in African development paradigms. “Let us wait for our people who are unprepared”. In doing so, the world leaves ‘our’ people. Subsequent effort at getting them into the main stream never works. It becomes a patch work that lacks order, creating disaffection and a clog to advance. Survey Africa and see clearly this kind of thinking.
To elevate the mind beyond primordial fixations and anti climaxes, requires a deeper thought that there are many things the world is doing now and very fast. The world will never wait for you. New inventions will not wait for ‘unthinking minds’ and inactive hands. Others will not feed your children for you. If by your design your house is made habitually unattractive, be sure many will stay clear of it.
Cell phones did not wait for all nations to educate their people before being dished out. Elon Musk will not wait for Africa before blasting a space craft to perfect a new technology. It is an integrated but divided world. The centre- periphery hypothesis seems to work full time. It matters for one to recognize it. If one fails to work hard and realize worthy goals one could slip to being unenviable bunch, deservingly taking shallow, disdainful treatment. Not far from individuals, some nation states in Africa by action and inaction are seen slipping into this pattern.
The need to unify knowing and doing in the realms of technology is not new. It is still driving the world. But attention to technology is usually elevated and promoted mostly around non performing institutions instead of individuals in Africa. Often, there are palpable clogs and impositions by these agencies that supposed to give technology a free reign.
It is ironical that the school system works these days in the gang of creating gaps. School system are supposed to be solution providers. But in many areas they have not scored well. Pedantic syllabus, atrophied faculty and routinized system not bracing up to cover part of widening gaps glare at you.
Visit a tertiary institution at examination time and see the underlay. It is instructive because examination time is when you see the picture of the nature of things. It is a season of being “awol” and “present”. A time for “regurgitation”, “pouring”, “arranging”, “sorting”and “blocking”- weird lingo of a diseased system. It is a period of “involvement”. Also, you observe large numbers of young men and women who are “hardly there”. They are not integrated in what they are doing. The body is present but the spirit is absent. In school colloquial, many are passing ‘ just a phase’ – through the school but the school is not passing through them. One is forced to ask rhetorically: how can these strangers fill gaps? Are they not really strangers to the school system and the society where they live?
But this not the high point of the matter. Think about the population of students in tertiary institutions across the land and the gap they can fill. If finding solution is the dominant thought of leaders, this workforce can be gap fillers – solution providers instead of a burden to society. Think again what kind of persons employers seek? Inarguably these young people are intelligent, mentally and physically strong. But why is the nation losing this free labour to fill gaps in society? Why the failure to think in a way to solve problems. It seems the many are fixated on taking about problems rather that spending more time on solutions.
Can the students in the university system not solve some problems in their university. Think about solution to some issues in the university system. When you visit universities in Europe and America you will not be in doubt that owners of these institutions are still working despite the cloudy cover over higher education system. But enter some here, you see unpainted buildings everywhere. What is the chemistry department teaching and producing. What is the building department doing with large army of students that can go practical. Until, the university system captures its un-used army in all sectors at war, the widening gap with the real world may not be closer.
Can universities not be given powers to solve their particular problems? For example, information retrieval is still at Stone Age in our universities. Why does it take over a week to retrieve and send transcripts out of Nigerian universities. No university here is 100 years. The boom in student numbers are recent. Besides, in the present world of technology some excuses are usually lame. Perhaps, corruption so famed in this locale is ‘fighting and taking a toll’.
A student now studying in Central Europe once cried on social media that it has taken his former university 3 months to send his transcript. Yet this is one of the universities acclaimed in this corner. It took the intervention of a ‘whole’ vice chancellor before his transcript was sent. Another student relates this kind of experience years ago while applying for Ford Foundation sponsorship. This is a school with statistics, computer, and electronic departments. A synergy of the three departments with their teaming hot heads of students can be deployed to deal with records problem.
Can systems be given the gaps in their universities to fill? Let the universities be allowed by bureaucracies both within and without to deal with their gaps. The student population has enormous capacity to solve problems.
At primary schools some can still relate to hand work at the end of every year as a present to parents who sponsored it. Outstanding ones are left in the headmaster’s office. Broom, carvings, designs, yams and cassava from school farms are elementary products in handwork at primary schools. The ante is raised in secondary schools. What has become of the university? The practical dimensions of life is now killed here. Who killed it? This will be discussed in subsequent interventions.