When Education is no Longer Valuable
Education isn’t a scam, but it’s close to it.
Two years ago, I had a conversation with an experienced academic researcher who, out of frustration, asked if there was any gain to academic and intellectual excellence. “Footballers, all they do all day is run around a ball, and then they’re paid more in a week more than many academics make in their lifetime.” I heard him lament, those of us who listened to him tried to rationalise why footballers are paid that much, but he wouldn’t listen. “We create the most value for society yet, we live like paupers, whereas those who create less value live like kings”, he kept on ranting, and we, on the other hand, kept making him see the reason for such valuations, he wouldn’t budge. But that day, something struck me, and I came to the understanding that the value system of the world is either broken or designed to operate in such a way that the more valuable a person is to societal development, the poorer they should be. This particular reason is what drives a lot of academics away from the classroom and research centres, thus, also influencing the decline of student participation in academic affairs. While you may say why should academics be pushed by money, let me drop this critical tweet here; maybe it’ll rejuvenate your understanding: (view insert).
This cruel valuation didn’t begin today, it has always existed, but at least folks expected the reward for academic excellence would be a comfortable life. Alas, these days, Academic excellence translates into anything but comfort. Even in schools, where merit is supposed to be the law, meritocracy is often lacking. A few years ago, parents would strive to ensure their kids got the best education. Still, these days, many parents have woken up to the realism that something is dysfunctional about the entire education system of the world and the attribution of value. You may wonder why I say this. Now pupils are realistic about their life goals. They understand that trying to change the world will only make you a pauper, so they don’t want to change it. Instead, they want a comfortable life.
A typical example is the number of students who enrol for STEM courses. These numbers keep reducing yearly. This is because the world doesn’t understand the value of scientists, engineers, etc. The only time we remember the societal worth of scientists, i.e., Microbiologists, is when the next pandemic starts. It’s easier for a Camel to enter a needle hole than for a researcher to get adequate funding for a worthwhile research project. One would assume that with the numerous health challenges facing the world today, we would’ve learnt the importance of science, but alas, that’s not the case. We would prefer to lavish millions of dollars on other misadventures.
Schools have been transformed from knowledge imparting to profit-making ventures. Lecturers/teachers aren’t interested in transferring skills and knowledge. Instead, they want to make a living. It’s not their fault. It’s the fault of society. Employers complain of half-baked underemployed graduates who lack necessary skills, which I find funny because schools can’t give what they don’t have. Academic excellence isn’t based on intellect but on the ability to memorise. So students are often judged by how much knowledge they can cram into their brains in a short while. That’s the present and future of education. So you have graduated with superb grades yet, with little or no imagination and intellect, it’s not your fault. Schools can’t give what they don’t have. Yearly, millions of graduates enter the labour market. The selection process is rigorous, the competition fierce, and a battle of who can create the most believable-false impression of themselves to lure prospective employers. Many employers fall for these baits because they’re willing to fall for them. They want to be told what they want to hear, destroying a valuable characteristic — integrity.
Daily, I find it hard to convince the younger generation about the importance of education when all they can see around them are broke, hopeless and depressed graduates. On the other hand, they can see successful non-graduates. How can we explain such an aberration without looking stupid?
Education is so expensive yet offers very little value. The only commodity it sells is hope for a better future, a gamble synonymous with stocks, sports gambling, forex and crypto exchanges.
What is the solution? I think I’ll leave that for the reader to answer, but ask yourself genuinely, would you have been better off without little or no education? I think so.