Certificate Monomania

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On February 14 2015, the electorates in the Federal Republic of Nigeria would be making a decision on who will LEAD or RULE them for the next four years. A lot of drama has however trailed the upcoming elections in the last few weeks. There has been a lot of mudslinging by the two major political parties of the presidential aspirants. The one that generated a lot of brouhaha on social media and the mass media was the issue of the existence and authenticity of the academic certificates of the All Progressive Congress’ candidate, General M. Buhari (GMB). The Peoples Democratic Party haunted the opposition continually on such a trivial issue and made a big deal of it. In the middle of all this drama, I came upon a humorous note written as an advice to folks:

“I have learnt a lot from the Buhari’s certificate monomania. Since it happened I’ve been looking for all my certificates. In fact I’ll safely keep the receipt for my jamb form, post jamb, lecture notes, textbook, photos in fact my signing out white vest too. Who knows anybody may request for it. If someone who schooled before independence can be asked to present his certificate, who am I? If you are lucky enough to still have your secondary school uniform and sandals please keep it. Who knows, any clueless person can ask for it.”

But really how important is a certificate? For God’s sake it’s only a piece of paper that gives evidence to the authenticity of one’s training. Certificates are a dime a dozen. Just the other day I was conversing with a friend who I was inviting to be part of a training on Time management. She then shot an interesting question to me which is “will they give me a certificate?” I well understood her reason for asking since the dominant logic with undergraduates is to gather as much certificates as possible before graduating. So the race then begins. They get certification in various professional courses and programmes in project management, human resources, time management, leadership, and personnel management. They join organisations on campus just for the certificate, even though for the little time they spend there no considerable input would be made into the organisation. If there’s no certificate as an incentive, you can keep your event to yourself for all they care. But is this craze for certificates logical and necessary? How much in importance do certificates matter?

As much as employers of labour would appreciate the evidence of a certificate, there is so much more to be offered. In Nigeria for instance, despite the tertiary education training, many graduates are not literate. Mass failure is still rampart in educational institutions. The other day the head of department was speaking to my class and was telling us of an extra year student that couldn’t write a single paragraph of an official letter. The question is not about certificates but about how much content you have beyond the certificate. Can you display evidence of your knowledge and training beyond the certificate you tender?

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