SCHOOL NA SCAM: How True Is This Statement?

English Lesson Notes for Junior Secondary

SCHOOL NA SCAM: How True Is This Statement?

If you're a student in Nigeria, then you must have heard the controversial "School Na Scam" slang currently parading itself in arguably every tertiary and secondary institution across the country. The ardent bearers of this slang believe and profess, in a metaphorical way, that tertiary institutions are equivalent to scam, that these tertiary institutions are a fraudulent scheme that will extort from us and only offer in return what will prove to be of no relevance at the end. As such, they (the proponents of ‘school na scam’ slang) emphasize that it is better to drop out of school after having your senior school certificate to find a living and begin a new phase of life rather than press further.
SCHOOL NA SCAM: How True Is This Statement?

Without any doubt, the basis of this belief is centred on the impression that graduating from the university does not necessarily give the assurance that our mission towards financial security and a better standard of living will be successful. So, instead of spending time, money and energy on acquiring a certificate that could end up having little or no relevance, it is better to channel those resources elsewhere. 

But how true can this be? Has school become a genuine metaphor for scam? While I feel inclined to give a quick, direct response to these two questions, especially the second, it is better to first dig deep and explore their overall credibility, starting with tracing the origin of this slang. 

School Na Scam is a song title by Zlatan Ibile, a prominent indigenous rapper and graduate of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. And its release coincides with this moment when even active learners of various levels are struggling to validate the common sense in obtaining a higher learning certificate, when employment opportunities are scarce and virtually beyond acquisition. Little wonder why the song was quick to resonate with them, especially the line that draws a striking financial comparison between two people: an O-level citizen living in affluence and a graduate struggling to make ends meet.

Surely, those who profess this slang have the ground to exert their belief considering the current state of the nation's economy and how the government has floundered in its essential obligation to ensure that the windows of opportunity are constantly opened to her graduates immediately after their passage from the university. But will the incompetence of the government be blamed on school? The answer is no. 

Education still offers the best and surest path to rising above the average standard of living in Nigeria. Though many may continue to feel skeptical about its assurance, the statistical evidence gathered from the recent Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination does well to affirm this declaration. A massive 1.8 million candidates veered for admission into various tertiary institutions across the country via JAMB's Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) while another reported 20,000 candidates enrolled in the IJMB program. 

These numbers tell the hidden story of how Nigerians still view advanced learning as an integral step they must take in order to achieve their different aspirations that culminate with financial security. To this set of persons, higher education translates to critical thinking, refined communication skill, greater competence and other social skills. And this means more opportunities in workplaces as industries are always in search of talented individuals in their respective fields.

Though these opportunities may seem limited, those who possess the skills (acquired from tertiary institutions) are still at an advantage. They can find multiple ways to improvise and use their skills effectively in any form these opportunities may come. Take my friend Tammy as a typical example. Tammy is a graduate of English and Literary Studies, Niger Delta University, whose love for teaching English as a second language and providing students with useful educational and secular information resulted in the creation of this blog. Instead of going from one principal's office to another in search of a job as an English teacher, he jumped on the speed wagon that modern technology has provided through blogging and social media platforms like Facebook to carry out his profession even more effectively than the physical classroom teacher. This makes him a self-made entrepreneur. If those students who exclaim school na scam take time to observe deeply, they will also find other ways to put their knowledge and certificate to use without worrying about government provisions.

There may be hard evidence to suggest why school has become a scam, but the proponents of this slang are those who have either lost faith in education or their own intellectual ability to attain academic success in college. And that is why the slang has failed to inspire anything positive in our communities. Instead, it has resulted in a fraudulent internet scheme popularly known as “Yahoo”. This is indeed an amusing paradox because scammers are the ones calling school a scam.

Therefore, any student who finds repose in this assertion should quickly have a change of mindset and regard it as another form of distraction to avoid. School is not a scam. But some misplaced perceptions have given the wrong impression that it has failed in its responsibility to guarantee our financial security even when that is really not its job. 

Maybe what we all need is a timely reminder on the simple definition of school to realize its primary responsibility. A school (whether primary, secondary or tertiary) is an institution where people receive formal education. And nobody can stake a claim that it hasn't shown competence in this regard.

© Victor Wisdom