Category Archives: Educational

WED2014: Raising awareness on campuses

Part of what my friend, Sadiq Gulma, and I did today in raising our voices towards a better environment was distributing flyers at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Kenyatta University to create awareness on food waste and energy conservation. Copy of the leaflet is attached below. Join the cause by getting in touch with us for more information.

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“When the last tree is cut and the last fish killed, the last river poisoned, then you will see that you can’t eat money.” – John May

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Raise Your Voice against Plastic Waste

Tomorrow is the world environment day (WED) dedicated to creating awareness on issues affecting us and the fellows with whom we share the world together. The theme of this year’s WED is “Raise your voice, not the sea level.” The worrying events we are witnessing day in, day out are enough to compel us into changing our life style to more sustainable one. I hope you will all join the campaign by raising your voice towards that goal. One big issue of concern is plastic waste which many people don’t know about. We shall continue to raise our voices until everyone become aware.

Plastics, which we use indiscriminately, are observed to affect hundreds of species in the sea and on the land. They are neither degradable in the soil like common organic materials we know, nor digestible by animals when swallowed. Birds, fishes, turtles, and many other poor creatures mistake plastic for food which end up being their death pill. Next time you are buying stuff at the grocery store, think twice before taking that plastic bag whose only use is from the store to your car or home.

Plastic Trash

 Tons of plastics end up as debris in the oceans

You can make your contribution towards reducing plastic waste by changing the way you relate with plastics. We can help a great deal in saving lives by adopting some simple measures while dealing with plastics.

  • Take reusable bags whenever you are going to the store. Combine similar items in a single bag without wrapping each item separately.

Reusable bag 3L – A simple reusable bag. R – Me holding my reusable bag

  • Buy items with less packaging and in large quantity if it is something you use very often. Do you know what I realized? The more packaging, the more expensive are the items. After all, you are only going to use the product inside. Do you also know that people using dispensers save a lot of money compared to those buying bottled water (the small ones)?
  • In many areas, waste collectors are required to separate plastics from other waste, which they end up not doing if the wastes are mixed up. Help them by separating the wastes at your home.
  • Are you still of the habit of throwing away litters on the street? A single bottle cap or a plastic straw can be the killer of a beautiful bird out there. Hold the litter until you find the nearest waste bin.
  • Raise your voice. Become an environment ambassador by creating awareness among your friends, family and co-workers.

Listen to Yaya Toure, a UNEP goodwill ambasaddor, on purging plastics

“It takes one minute to throw out a plastic bag you’ve used once. It takes less than that to down a bottle of water. They then end up in the garbage or the ocean where they live FOREVER — adding to landfills and killing marine life. If you have to use plastic, make sure you reuse or recycle!”

What I like most with living an environmental friendly life is that it makes life simpler. You save money and live healthier.

To learn more read http://www.unep.org/regionalseas/marinelitter/publications/docs/trash_that_kills.pdf

MY PROFESSION AND HUMANITY: TOWARD A BETTER KATSINA YOUTH

Introduction

Before I go into the discussion, let me first and foremost make clarification upon which profession we are talking about here, for, profession is all encompassing, regardless of which institution the professional in question attends. It is in mind as we all know that profession is not limited to the academic courses we studied in our various institutions of learning, but also include other crafts as nail cutting, tailoring, blacksmithing, driving, car washing and water vending, among others. These are all professions, and those who engage in them are as well professionals in their own capacity as, say, Nail Cutters. But since our audience constitutes of students and the paper is targeted at them, it would be important to limit ourselves to the academic professions we are trained upon from our various schools. This will make the best of sense because even if we go outside the scope to include the Nail Cutters it will not benefit them per se, for not only the fact that the audience are students but also the context is designed to enlighten students primarily on the need to put our actions together toward having a better Katsina society, and if the Nail Cutters are themselves however students, we can frame another topic for another day to include them, but for this now, we shall focus on the academic professions only. May Allah help us.

There is no profession that has no direct bearing with human life, each is a must for a humanity to fine-tune its direction toward having a better society, and absence of one can however causes the humanity to lose its sense of direction with perhaps inevitable colossal amount of consequences. One profession reinforces another, therefore none can stand on its own to bring the meaningful development it was designed for. If this is true, can we then, at this juncture say, we need all the professions for us to achieve the overall development we so desire? If the answer to this one million naira question is positive, as we shall see in the end of this discussion, then when we say profession in this paper, we are not only referring to a single profession like Microbiology or Pharmacy but all the academic professions you ever known.

All professions are from one source

Before the 19th century industrial revolution in Europe, knowledge used to be monolithic, and the scholars who championed the cause were described as being Philosophers who are usually versatile in all fields of human endeavors. This is why you find their names mentioned in all the academic disciplines we study today- being it medicine, Agriculture, Political Science, Sociology, and likes. That is also why there is unending argument among scholars as to whether some courses in Art, like History, should rather belong to science. The root to such argument is simple- the founders of such courses are renaissance scholars whose knowledge cut across all fields of study. During this period, there was no single academic discipline as Economics, Pharmacy, Medicine, Political Science or Sociology as it is the case today, but the ability of the philosophers to equally comment on all fields of knowledge, creates the impression that all knowledge is from one source, and that source was no other than a “Historical Pot”. As nature has it, the pot’s life span terminates, as Industrial Revolution occurred, and issues demanding wider research begin to emerge. This development led to the emergence of many academic disciplines in both natural and social sciences as stated earlier.

So from the above analysis, do we therefore agree that it was only a circumstance that separated the different courses, and had there been no such circumstance, we would have to be faced, in this generation, with only one option; to either accept the fact that we will read vastly to become all-inclusive-professionals or abandon it all and live a life of darkness thereby becoming just a burden to the society without even a nail cutting skill to contribute to the development of the humanity? If we all agree this is true, can we also safely say that human intellect is declining especially in Africa, and in Africa, Nigeria, and in Nigeria, Northern part of it, and in the Northern part, Katsina, and in Katsina, among the Youth? If yes, then why?

Harmonizing all professions towards a better humanity

All disciplines aim to achieve one common objective at the end of the day- to make world a better place for humanity- but how that common objective can collectively be achieved depends largely on how appropriate we put all the disciplines into use- if, for example, the need to remake Katsina to be the Dubai of West Africa that it was centuries ago arises, the first thing to do is to task those in art like History to go as far back as to reviewing the ancient History of Katsina from  the beginning to the time it started manifesting signs of declining, up to its present state, to uncover the causes of its greatness and the challenges that led to its present predicament, and to also bring to surface the picture of what the future potential is if nothing has or has not been done. From there, those in Social Sciences pick, and recommend the way forward and from the concluded work of the social scientists, those in management like public administrators make positive policies towards a better world.

Along this vein, if medical personals gather together and identify Candidiasis to be the major medical problem with women and call on government to act quickly or there will be serious trouble with Katsina women, government will respond in time. Sociologists can add voice to the call by relating to government the social consequences of the disease. Meanwhile, we cannot expect doctors, after having discovering cure for HIV, to however go further as to address the menace of stigma against the victims. In this instance, Historians, sociologists and other related professionals should be engaged to enlighten the public against the danger of stigmatization- being more dangerous, in this case, than the disease itself to the life of the victims. More so, would a judge not depend on ‘Paternity Test’ result, to rule over a controversial case where a father denies his biological child? Come to think of it if urban and regional planners are to plan a new Katsina town without incorporating the social urban ideas of urban Historians/Geographers, whose ideas will cover the social aspect of the urbanization? Would there not be social consequences, as we have been seeing now, in the long run, if the city has finally been built and human live in it without social aspect of urbanization being taken care of?

Conclusion

Since it was a ‘MONOLITHIC KNOWLEDGE’ that set the renaissance generation on course, and perhaps was what kindle the subsequent generation’s way to greatness, it is left to us this generation to either make a wise choice by putting together all our today’s fragmented courses of study into a rather ‘MONOLITHIC ACTION’ that will not only liberate us from the life of darkness we youth seem to be living, but as well enable us to make Katsina a better place for all as it had been centuries ago, or because of lack of awareness continue to consider our various professions as just a means of acquiring a ‘White Color Job’ and leave the society on its own to keep on dying, a slow death. Until we put all our professions into proper perspective such as to be so practical to guarantee a better humanity, we will however continue to live a life of darkness and thereby contribute nothing to the overall development of humanity.

Written by Abdullahi Rabi’u

A paper delivered at an annual congress of Katsina Education Charity Club on Eidul Fitr day, 8th August, 2013

Certificates and Success: Our narrow perception

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”- Jim Rohn

Formal education undoubtedly plays a great role in grooming students towards a successful future career but the present school system where everything is based on competition to achieve high grades is often counterproductive. The definition of our schools is very clear; race for the top positions otherwise your toil is rendered futile. The stigma is even worse if you failed to make it to the university. “Socially, people who don’t go to college are often regarded as weirdos.” Said John Carney in his Business Insider Article on successful drop outs.

When I talk about school degree not being the only way to success, I am not devaluating it. There are indeed people whose expertise could only be learned at the university. The problem is when everyone ignores other possibilities and narrows down his success route to school alone. That is the world we are living in now, with graduates staying idle for ages waiting for employment because they have a degree certificate. The point here is to induce a shift from that dogma; to let people understand that they can achieve success provided they have the ability. “The only way to overcome the college bias will be the widespread perception that many of our society’s most successful people do not have a college degree and don’t care about those who do”, asserted John Carney, who was referring to America’s numerous millionaires.

“From birth, we were taught that life is a race; run fast or you will be trampled.” Farhan Qureshi, one of the protagonists in the Bollywood movie, “3 Idiots”, said. According to him, the race started since one was conceived in his mother’s womb during which the spermatozoon destined to be him had to contest in a race with millions of other sperm cells. To make things more spirited, one’s parents had long decided what their son or daughter would be in the future. This, in many occasions becomes the child’s predisposed kismet.

Sometimes we see things not working in our own way but we still hold on. The drive is seldom our own heart which would naturally inspire us to try something different: Something our body is capable of. But we will keep reminding ourselves the expectation people have on us and we are ready to go to any length in order not to disappoint them. What we do forget is, when we indeed fail, no one would often be there to help us get up again.

Some writers and singers can be very hypocritical that taking everything they say seriously without comparing it with their real life is often detrimental. They could preach something while in reality they quite live its opposite. Keke Palmer for example said in one of her songs that, “There is nothing you cannot do when you believe in yourself.” Because of her success one may blindly assume that this young successful singer chose her career out of the blue and because she believed in herself, she was able to shine. Looking under the hood, one will discover that Palmer was born in a vaudevillian family and has pronounced her preference of English language to Mathematics during early school time. It is clear then what her career would probably be.

Similarly, Daniel Coyle’s approbation of deep practice in his book, “The Talent Code” is to a very great extent misleading. He advocates sole dependency of achieving talent on deep practice. He dismissed the contribution of natural talent and environment to becoming an expert and tried to convince the reader that success is around the corner in as much as he keeps trying. Here again I will ask, did Coyle choose writing profession out of the blue and became expert in it through deep practice? Though I was not able to find out what motivated him into journalism, but his life has been in the profession since after college.

It is important to mention few among these people who didn’t wait for a certificate to build their own careers but rather broke away along the way to try out what they believed they were good at. Nevertheless their success didn’t come without strings attached. They had something to start with and that is the bottom line. William Bill Gates and his childhood friend, Paul Allen are one such big example. They saw an opportunity to garner reputation for themselves when Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) Company issued a demonstration of their new computer. At that time, Gates was in his sophomore year at Harvard University while Paul had already dropped out from Washington State University. Gates initially deferred his studies but he was never to return to Harvard again. Together they started their company, Microsoft, same year they made that breakthrough with MITS. The secret here is that, this duo discovered what they were good at while in school and decided to give it a try out of the educational system.

Another inspiring success story of a university dropout is that of Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle Corporation, the world’s second-largest software company. He is a two-time drop out from university of Illinois and the University of Chicago but never made it to graduation. Together with two other partners, Ellison initiated a company called Software Development Laboratories (SDL) with a capital of only $2,000. It was the company that was later renamed to Oracle.

As I have mentioned earlier, dropping out from school is not an option per se. It is worthy of consideration when someone has discovered in himself a talent that could land him to a great career path. Robert Zimmer asserted that, it has become commonplace to see young people who, drawing inspiration from billionaire entrepreneurs, consider dropping out of college as a fast track to business success. According to him, in order to be in the league, one should have similar exceptional skills already developed even before going to college. Such skills include: The ability to educate oneself, get a bank loan, and manage one’s time and money efficiently. Family and acquaintances may play a big role in supporting people with such desires.

Going back to the message conveyed in 3 Idiots, it was clear that Farhan had no iota of passion in engineering but he was left with no option aside pursuing the choice made by his parents. He was such a passionate and talented photographer who was even planning to contact an expert in the profession in order to chase that career but had to keep it to himself, for, his parents’ decision was final. He underwent the school for four good years with nothing to write home about. It was his close friend who rescued him after discovering a letter he wrote meant to be posted to his admired photographer. His friend secretly posted the letter for him and convinced him to open up his mind to his parent. That is how he was able to leave engineering to live the life he had long cherished.

I will finally like to remind ourselves what Maya Angelou once said “success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Grades we achieved in school are just some approximate way of measuring educational performance whose best place is merely some perishable papers. Instead of waiting for employers who offer jobs based on grades, why not use our ingenuity to create the opportunities ourselves. We shall not forget that the major architect of our success is us. The writing would only be on the wall for us when we cease to recognize our abilities.

Written by Sadah