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Opinions of Saturday, 18 October 2014

Columnist: Blege, Alex

The university, an intellectual blacksmith’s shop

By Alex Blege 

University education is a high level of training, learning and teaching of various fields of society. Society is imperfect; the men and women who make up society are imperfect beings.

Consequently, when any individual makes it to the university, that individual is deemed as intellectually sound. That individual assumes a new air of importance among his or her peers, and family members. Society then expects that individual to have the solution to the problems that confront his or her environment in all spheres.

In the university, students learn or are taught different subjects bothering on humanity. These are meant to give the individual or student the required academic clout to identify problems and find solutions to these problems.

Comparatively, the university student who then becomes a university graduate after a period of mandated years is like the cutting tool that is manufactured by our local blacksmiths. 

In the blacksmith’s shop, there is fire, water, charcoal, anvil, hammer and a bellow. All these assist the blacksmith in the manufacture of sharp edge tools such as machetes, hoes, pickaxe, axes and mattocks. Yes, the edges of these tools are very sharp; so that it can be used for its right purposes. These sharp tools when used by the farmer or any other person achieve success and a good job done for that matter.

In the context of the university, the assignments, the presentations, the rules and regulations which order the conducts and attitudes of the students shape and prepare the student to be astute after he or she has stepped into the world; a world full of problems and solutions.

The knowledge that is acquired then becomes the sharp cutting edge of the student which is used in benefiting society and the individual at large. This does not mean that the university student who becomes a graduate is a know-it-all-person.

However, society demands that the university student or graduate who has acquired enough knowledge should be able to use that knowledge to identity and rectify problems that confront his or her immediate and remote environment.

As a boy I was always advised to get an education which will ensure that I had a good job in the future. This to me today is erroneous and with my head above the parapet I say that education does not give one a good job; instead education and for that matter university or any other higher level of education enables one to solve problems and as a result of the solutions that he or she offers society, there are gains in the form of money, properties and plaudits from society.

On October 11, 2014, the University for Development Studies conducted matriculation for fresh students who have been admitted for the 2014/2015 academic year; this is an annual event undertaken by all universities and other higher learning and teaching institutions.

At matriculation grounds the feeling is different. The fact that students have been duly accepted by status populari as junior members of a university is in itself fulfilling. However, it comes along with its own challenges; self discipline at this level is key to defining one’s future.

Now the onus lies on the student to make hay while the sun shines. This is in the form of burning the midnight candles to make good grades. Good grades are very important, no doubt about that; should the good grades be the ultimate aim of the student at a higher learning and teaching level?

This is quite debatable. When a student does not strive to get As and Bs, consequently, that student is bound to pack bag and baggage and head home. The total grade point of a student is used as a means of assessing a good student. That is good. There is no problem with that.

There is an English proverb that says, “the end crowns the work”. In this context, does the end mean that if a student comes out with an excellent class, will that student perform best at the work place or will that student succeed at work?

This draws me to the argument of whether lecturers are teaching in such a manner that reflects current trends. Current trends which do not bother about what kind of grade point a student acquires after the university, rather what can the university student do with the knowledge he or she has acquired? This assertion is without malice aforethought.

There had been a few backlashes from various individuals on the kind of students universities churn out today. In July 2014, I attended a stakeholders’ meeting of the National Service Scheme and this was one of the key issues that recurred throughout.

It is high time we rethink and re-orient ourselves about education in entirety!

Writer’s address: kw.ameblege@hotmail.com/www.gudzetsekomla.blogspot.com.