Blaming the Victims
The assumption is widely held that university education is complete and equips the graduate to be a leader in ways that are vaguely defined, but which add up to managerial and entrepreneurial competence, or resonance. Implicit in the expectations of university education and in the claims made for it is the assumption that it will equip the graduate to demonstrate the Crusoe Effect, alone or along with others. These claims are regularly implied in speeches at graduation ceremonies. (chapter 6)
But decades of history shows that the university and its degrees, including “business school” training, and regardless of the level of university education, does not do these things in the underdeveloped countries to any extent that has made a difference for most. Graduation speakers seem to mix up the narrative about what higher education should accomplish with what is accomplished in practice. By so doing, graduation speakers have become part of the loud chorus suggesting that higher education has failed to make development happen because something is wrong with the people it is not working for. (chapter 6)
The unspoken operating assumption in our world is as follows. It is self-evident that education works for development. After all, the developed countries are developed because of education. If education does not work for others, then something must be wrong with them, or they need more education. As a result, the underdeveloped countries have quietly carried the shame of ineffective education by not openly questioning higher education. Accordingly, individuals resort to blaming each other and countrymen for persistent underdevelopment. (chapter 6)
Another way of stating this is that people should adapt to education, and the failure to do so is their fault. We disagree! Education should instead adapt to people. Education that does not work because of culture is still useless education. The university curriculum does not know how to adapt to the people of the underdeveloped countries in order to meet its objectives for development. The existing curriculum must be set aside and replaced with one that adapts to people so that the objectives of education for development can be consistently met.
Higher education has failed for development not because something is wrong with people, but because something is wrong with the education. Expatriates in the PUCs (persistently underdeveloped countries) are surrounded by underdevelopment. Yet they regularly perform at the level of the developed countries while in that environment. They do the things that would end underdevelopment if indigenous graduates were to consistently do the same. That is the definition of underdevelopment: graduates fail to consistently perform as well as expatriates.
This failure is not because something is wrong with graduates. It is because education does not know how to train people to perform as well as expatriates. It is not the fault of these countries or their people. It is the fault of the education. Education appears to work for the developed countries not because of the education, but because of the tacit aspects of development that have been acquired passively in culture.
Education does not know how to deliberately impart these tacit aspects of development in the university. Education is missing the ingredient that will make development happen in the PUCs. Western education does not know the missing ingredient. We do!
Education seems to work for the developed countries. To the developed countries, little is wrong with education. Therefore, the developed countries are not motivated enough to fix education. They have not suffered enough to come up with a solution. They have not been inspired enough. After decades of development planning and programs, and spending billions of dollars, we must conclude that they may never come up with a solution that works.
Instead of blaming each other or blaming the victims, the demand for effective education should be made until our solution is implemented.
The underdeveloped countries have done all the correct things to be developed by now. At great expense and sacrifice, they have been educating their people for decades in local universities and in universities in the developed countries. Any country that has invested in higher education for decades has met, in theory, the minimum requirement to ignite rapid development. In every PUC, real development should have started long ago, with the first set of graduates.
Stop keeping quiet about this terrible situation and stop blaming each other. By implementing our solution, it is now possible for every new graduate to perform as well as expatriates. Help make it happen now.
Samuel A. Odunsi, Sr.