Liberal Education Failure
A university (undergraduate) curriculum consists of the technical component and the ‘liberal education’ component. The technical component is what determines whether you get a degree in engineering, or English, or accountancy, etc. The promises made for university education and the lofty expectations about it are based entirely on the liberal education component of the academic curriculum. This component is supposed to add to technical knowledge ‘special knowledge,’ which will make the graduate perform as promised by university education, and as expected in graduation speeches. This compulsory component of university education is why all undergraduate degrees take the same length of time to complete. If liberal education is stripped out, the remaining technical training for an undergraduate degree will take no longer than one to two years to complete. It will also cost a lot less. However, in our world, technical and vocational training that take less time to complete, and which do not contain non-essential liberal education courses, are seen as somehow deficient. The graduates of such courses are seen as less capable of performing managerial and decision-making tasks, while university graduates are automatically seen as ready to lead. (chapter 3).
The failure of university education for development is therefore the failure of the liberal education curriculum.
Denying this failure is equivalent to blaming the victim and saying that something is wrong with the people that education is not working for. The rise of political correctness has made unpopular and driven underground the Darwinian, genetic, racial, and moral explanations for underdevelopment. But this is an illusion, because these deterministic views remain dominant in our world, despite feel good lip service to cultural tolerance and cultural diversity.
These prejudiced ideas are indispensable for sustaining the view that nothing is wrong with higher education or with liberal education. Without these ideas that blame the victims, there will be zero tolerance for the failure of university education to make development happen. Without this implicit blame, graduation speeches will not regularly suggest that university education has equipped the graduate to perform as well as expatriates, when the evidence shows otherwise. Without these prejudiced beliefs, there will be no hesitation in holding university education accountable for its abject failure for development and DEMANDING a replacement that works.
This is not to say that speakers at graduation ceremonies are prejudiced. It just shows that they cannot distinguish the promises of the university degree from the realities of our world, which is the practical failure of university education to make development happen in the PUCs (persistently underdeveloped countries).
Samuel A. Odunsi, Sr.