This is a continuation of the post before the last with the same title but IV.
In my final year, Prof. Ogbimi in his course, Technology Policy, taught:
Societies which neglect the learning opportunities in their economies cannot experience innovations because learning and acquiring new knowledge and skills, and applying these in production are the bases for achieving innovations…In the absence of learning and acquisition of new knowledge, productivity stagnates and drops.2
I find the last sentence true also for an individual. Prof. Ogbimi linked learning to industrialization. The path to industrialization for third world countries according to him is not just to import machinery. He described the machines used in building roads for example as depreciating assets. Economic activities in the country decrease with time as the value of the structures built decrease. He asserted that no implementation style corrects the error of faulty thinking in the planning process. His theory was that industrialization is a learning process. This impressed me. He taught:
The value of the learning man appreciates in a compound fashion with learning and intensity, and time…As many people learn and acquire knowledge in breadth and depth, a point is reached when each skill type begins to enjoy the support of all others and an invisible knowledge and skills frame work is formed…The economy becomes diversified, productivity improves dramatically and the society is said to achieve industrial revolution…Industrialization is a group effort. Each person in the skill-framework, no matter how versatile, is only a point in a network. He fails readily outside the network. This explains why Nigerians and other Africans perform well abroad where well developed skill-frameworks exist but they do not appear to do well when they return home where a knowledge-and-skills-framework does not exist.3
He went on to assert that learning people through the multiplication of their knowledge and skill (as in teaching), and the repeated use of the knowledge and skills in production, create wealth for an economy. He generated a wealth creating cycle that sees learning/educational institutions applying their knowledge and skills in production/service units which in turn pass the wealth to the public and pay tax to the government. The government and the investing public then fund the educational institutions. So goes the cycle. None of the three groups can play the role of another.
I wonder whether there is no error of faulty thinking on the part of successive government. For years the idea seems to be that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises will lead us to industrialization. But it has not really done so. We just cannot continue to do the same thing again and again expecting a different outcome. It is true that virtually all great companies of today started small. Creativity was brought to bear to get them where they are today. But many SMEs in Nigeria keep doing the same thing the same way. They are not clear as to vision. They are not passionate about continuous learning so as to be able to apply knowledge to solve problems. Prof. Ogbimi’s link between learning/educational institutions and production/service units in his wealth creating cycle becomes necessary.
While learning we should evolve and apply our knowledge and skills to solving our problems our own way for we understand ourselves better. Before the westerners came, African kingdoms and ethnic groups were evolving without external interference. Today the world has become a global village and nations are working together but the westerners cannot fix all our problems. Fixing our problems is our very own job.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason but no morals…We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education,” said Martin Luther King Jr.
2. E Ogbimi, Solution to Mass Unemployment in Nigeria, 1999, Obafemi Awolowo University Press Limited, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, 66
3. Ibid., 46-51