Uncommon Stories

Technology: Ability Is The New Certificate

Our biggest challenge in this country may not be Boko Haram but the quality of people that will represent us in the future.

While I was in a meeting with Uche on Saturday, she received a message from a mother whose son got admission to Stanford University, USA. This boy – still in his SS 3, and he’s yet to sit for his WAEC (this may) – attended a 6-week program on coding in Onitsha.

According to his mother, the boy, after learning how to code under Uche, continued developing himself and became indispensable to his school.

What caught my attention was the school that offered him admission – Stanford University.

Stanford University produced Larry Page (Google) and Chelsea (the only child of President Bill and Hillary Clinton).

Such a school did not ask the boy for his O-level mathematics result or his grade in the English Language. They didn’t ask for 5 credits. They offered him admission based on his coding ability.

Ironically, here in Nigeria, with A1 in Mathematics, Physics, Further Maths, and Technical Drawing, Universities will still reject you because you got a Pass in English.

Our biggest challenge may not be Boko Haram but the quality of people that will represent us in the future. People that are victims of the obsolete and epileptic educational system of this country. Victims of the system that are not comparing notes with the rest of the world.

Secondary schools in Onitsha just recently stopped the teaching of Shorthand and still have a curriculum where students learn the keyboard by drawing it on a plain sheet. Secondary Schools in this city still offer Business Studies with examination questions of ‘Who is a receptionist?’

I saw a JS 2 examination paper where they asked the students to draw and label a CPU, a monitor, and a mouse. If it were a Fine Art examination, it would not be a problem, but it was a Computer Study examination.

Last week, I met Qudus Onikeku, an international African dancer. He shared his story of how he failed JAMB 4 times and later got admission to a school in France to learn ‘dancing’. Dancing!

They admitted him based on his displayed skills. Today, he’s touring over 15 cities on 3 continents with his dance documentary. In his words, he said that what we refer to as ‘Extra curriculum’ is what the world focuses on.

But here in Nigeria, Emmanuella must pass English and Maths before a poorly funded institution will admit her into Theater Arts. WizKid must credit Economics to learn Music. The world has changed, but as Nigeria was in the beginning, we are still now.

Two people cannot be mad at the same time. As the nation still enjoys the past, we should think beyond what the system can offer us. As you send your kids to Nigerian Schools, be observant to know what he is good and interested in.

The world has left theories. Ability is now the new certificate.


Since I witnessed the Stanford testimony, I have been in a high spirit. I am excited that a simple office in Onitsha can bring out the best in a little boy.

I hope Uchenna Onwuamaegbu Ugwu will share her side of the story with the world. This, to me, is not a mean feat.

Ozii Baba, a TedX Speaker, is an Onitsha-based storyteller and social entrepreneur. He works directly with children and young people.

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1 Comment

  1. Emeka says:

    This is amazing. I am surprised that it’s coming from Onitsha. I know Uche Onwuamaegbu. She’s been consistent in her purpose.

    More of this

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