A young scholar, was I when I knew being an Academic was my calling and there was no two way about it.
The early 2000’s saw equally young Academics taking us Courses in Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, and you could bet it, these guys were prepared before coming to classes.
I remembered those days you’ll see your Lecturers coming to read in their offices with lamps, the way you have also come, to class, to read.
I don’t want to mention their names, they are Professors now in their respective fields; and again, you hardly see them coming to class to dictate notes; they have come to teach and tell you how they arrived at their summations.
During those times, there was no ‘Mr’, ‘Dr.’ or ‘Professor’ know it all; if there was a ‘roadblock’ in any topic, we will approach it in the next class.
That was before the unfortunate PowerPoint Presentations came, where a Lecturer will skim through dozens of Slides, in less than an hour, and ignorantly believing he or she had lectured.
In those good old days, no one cares about the Degrees, our Lecturers had, we were more concerned about the Topics:- how well we understood and how easily we could reproduce that at the Examinations.
For me, it was more friendlier, as my Teachers were more interested in me as a young Student, encouraged me to do well and expected much more with my moral comportment in the classroom.
A number of us graduated well with respectively fairly good grades to earn higher degrees and, plausibly, a University Teaching appointment.
Nevertheless, time passed, I was fortunate to proceed for my Post Graduate studies, about four years after the first degree, and then, I discovered the Failures in the University System.
The First was when our Postgraduate Teachers expected us to read and understand on our own, OYO, without being adequately taught, directed or instructed on want to expect from the courses.
I read like everything I could and had very little to make sense of. Some of the courses were unrelated to what Anatomy was all about, really; some were practical based courses, which I was basically cramming without making any reasonable point of anything theoretically. Examples were Histochemistry, Tissue Culture, Electron Microscopy and, Histology.
The purpose of the Masters program seemed to be achieving the 60B+, then proceeding to PhD program.
Furthermore, the Research in the Department was somehow designed towards also unrelated Disciplines to Anatomy, as more were of Pharmacognosy and Toxicology and even the assessment at the PostGraduate College was woefully organized.
A practical example was giving some Senior Academics in the Postgraduate College to correct Research Presentations, which they have no foundational knowledge in or know anything about.
My Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases and Neurobiology was given to one Professor of Immunology and another Professor of Community Medicine, which could, barely, even read my Thesis Topic or understand what the Subject matter was.
When I saw these madness, all I could just do was to be more patient and faced my Gross Anatomy classes and Basic Histology, where I had groomed myself prior, in order to have firmer grasp of my Course of Study and Career.
At the Hostel, a Hall Journalist would describe me as “behaving as if I was the only person that studied Anatomy”, which was practically, plausibly, true, as many other Colleagues had derailed from the subject matter because of the apprehension of proceeding to PhD, publish Papers and earn a Lectureship Position.
Well, I graduated with 58B, (Thesis was not graded); however, I had the reputation of demonstrating dexterity and Proficiency in the field of Anatomy.
Fortunately for me, I got a full Lectureship Position about 3 years after finishing my Masters Degree and it was then I discovered that the University System has been confused what the Education should be all about.
The Battle I met on Ground was Paper Publications shenanigans, then thereafter, PhD degree as a measure of Authority and Leadership in a Course.
Then I decided to stand my ground that the job of teaching Undergraduate Students Anatomy has nothing to do with Higher degrees.
As a matter of fact, the Textbook of Anatomy were never stratified according to levels which they should be taught or acquire knowledge.
Anatomy, as a Course, can never be taught in isolation and even the Syllabus and Curriculum designed were entirely wrong to impact the knowledge of Anatomy to both Medical and other Students offering the Course.
Additionally, another flaw in considering who to handle the Courses is the incognizance that Academic performance, at the undergraduate Level, of anyone matters, when given a course to take.
“A bad student can never be a good teacher”.
This is not peculiar to Anatomy and I am, as a matter of fact, not fingering anybody, but, if a Lecturer has not done well in a particular Course, as an undergraduate and also refused to go back to brace himself up for the lapses; giving such Lecturer, that particular Course to teach, because he had acquired higher degrees, will never make sense in anyway.
Such Lecturers will cleverly avoid taking the course or subject and the ripple effect of mediocrity is passed on to the poor students in his classes.
While the Universities should focus on the basic understanding and teaching of the Undergraduate Students, in order to have firm grip of the courses and proffer solutions, they were more on plagiarized Articles and higher degrees, which apparently have no skill, to help the System.
Even if the role of the Academics are to Research, how many of these Researches solved Problems?
Undeniably, the Year 2020 saw a COVID-19 pandemic and none of those boastful 87,000 papers, published within the first year of the pandemic, answered anything order than resolving to vaccination, which had basically been what the world had known to combat Infectious diseases for over three Centuries ago.
Moreover, the Apprehension the pandemic brought and incompetence of the Academics caused more damage than good.
Regrettably, the Nigeria Academia celebrate ineptitude when they couldn’t even design a Structure for Virtual Learning and effective Communication during the lockdown; yet, ‘Productivity’ has always been the Function of Higher degrees acquisition and Paper Publications.
How then do we move forward?
Students are not properly taught, Researches could not answer any problem, yet, inaugural Lectures are given in hundreds, while our Nation plunge into adversities and challenges, which, true knowledge could have solved.
Now what use is the Education System, which could not provide any skill for a Student, who spent at least 4 years offering a Course, only to still go back home to learn one form of apprenticeship or the other?
What reputation should the Academics be proud of, if they have no solution to give in the respective fields to make the society better?
How has the Gown helped the Town?
Conclusively, there is no benefit in any knowledge, which has brought no good to the owners of them, and obviously, it is because most of the folks in the Academic Profession are nothing but Charlatans, apparently, not being able to give what they actually do not have.
Adebisi Benjamin Temidayo
Osun State University, Nigeria.