Most students operate with the belief that a good grade is what is required to live successfully thereafter. But Steve Harris, a secondary school drop-out who defied all odds and social norms to become a published author, strategist and professional orator disagrees. In this interview with Vanessa Akuboh, the author of College Dropout to Corporate Sell-Out’ addresses this and talks about the Nigerian educational system and sundry issues affecting it
Do you think our present situation as a country has anything to do with the school system and quality of our education?
Most definitely. I believe over 95 percent of secondary school kids are ill suited for the courses they’re studying. You can run any random survey and find that 8 out of every 10 students will say ‘they gave me’ the course I’m studying.
I also believe that schools need to develop personality profiles for each student and it should be measured from primary school up to university level and that profile should be a guide for what each child should study, since it is an inventory of his gifting.
Besides, the quality of education available in a nation is directly proportional to the productivity of that nation. Garbage in, garbage out.
As a country, what can we do to at least reduce the adverse effects?
Well, I believe that every school should offer enterprise development courses and make it mandatory for each student. Personally, I believe the NYSC should be scrapped and should give way to a 1 year entrepreneurship and employability programme to get Nigeria working again.
A number of students and graduates believe good a grade is all that matters to ensure a successful life. Is there more?
Having a good grade is important. Though I dropped out of school, I don’t advise others to do the same. But I believe personal development begins where formal education ends. A number of graduates or young folks study only to pass, but not to apply. I believe examinations are not a test of intelligence, but of preparation.
However, good grades don’t guarantee a successful life. That has to do with discovering purpose, living with passion, working with excellence and not giving excuses.
Young Nigerians believe that if you have talents, you don’t need to worry about formal education to make it. What do you think the Nigerian youth with this mentality should know?
Talent is just raw natural gifting from God, but it needs to be honed into skill through diligent, developed and disciplined focus.
A lot of young artistes think making music is just about getting a beat, placing a catchy, low IQ chorus and a lot of gibberish together, but real musicians can read music, play instruments and write music. My advice is educate your gift.
Some students believe that not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship. What is your take on this?
I believe that not everyone is cut out to be a number 1; some folks are to serve faithfully as Number 2. In the same vein, not everyone can or will be entrepreneurs. Some will be what I call ‘INtrepreneurs’, that’s CEOs in employment and they’ll be fulfilled doing that. Everyone must find their place and fill it.
Nigerians are known to be loyal to brands, but we see many entrepreneurs springing out from the same line of business. How can a budding entrepreneur straight out of school or the NYSC stand out?
Business is very dynamic. I believe every entrepreneur must find their niche in order to stand out. Let me give you a clear example. A lot of people want to get into the events management business, but all they are concerned with is the glitz and glamour, setting up the backdrop and the pretty lights etc. But a little known niche in events management is cleaning the venue (before and after). Only an entrepreneur will notice that niche and leverage on it.
In your book , you wrote: “It is not what you have that limits you but what you have but don’t know how to use”. How does the undergraduate or someone straight out of school or even a college drop-out know what he has and what to do?
I believe it was Dr. Myles Munroe that said ‘when the purpose of a thing is unknown, abuse is inevitable’. Until one discovers the appropriate use of their gift set or skill set, he’s sure to abuse it. To discover your passion, you need to determine what comes to you naturally or what problem frustrates you the most when it’s poorly done. (Leadership)