A young Sierra Leonean Female graduate, Massah Esther Nyally Bockarie, has narrated  her  Painful experience with a colleague graduate she encountered recently. As she conversed with her classmate, Massah arrived at the conclusion that our university degrees have failed us.

As I conversed with a classmate of five years, recent conversations with my leader and mentor emerged. A hasty generalization you might say, but our degrees have failed us.

My friend in question, Saheed, graduated as the second-best student from our department. During college, he was diligent and one of the best students. He excelled in all subjects, and I can’t recall him ever being absent from class. He was the ideal student.

We argued a lot about theories and I admired him a lot back in college. Today, I think I no longer admire Saheed. He has stopped being the smart Saheed I used to know and is among the thousand of graduates waiting on a job or scholarship to utilize their potential.


He is no longer quick on his feet as he was when we discussed development topics. I believe him to be stuck and he is doing little to help himself.

I am angry at him, but I don’t blame him. Saheed, like most other young graduates, isn’t to be blamed for their current state. It takes high luck, network, and a level of focus and determination to get a job or create a job in our country. Unfortunately, our degrees never told us this.

Our entire school system is based on getting good grades. We are taught to remember things and not understand them.

We had textbooks forced on us, history repeated to us, maths calculations and logics that we had to pass, never understanding why we had to.

We had lecturers that didn’t let us debate, teachers that flogged us because we corrected them, and bad grades when we brought arguments that weren’t in line with those of the lecturer’s.

It was a one-way street for most lecturers. Their way or risk failing. Saheed had an A in Sampling Survey, I had a C+. We had the same lecturer, but I know I can use that knowledge to create a small marketing research firm for the surging small businesses in Sierra Leone.

Saheed doesn’t know this, because our lecturer back then expected us to cram. We had to write what he gave us and not write or think in “our way.”

Imagine if students graduating with Adult Education were trained to think their way. To create programs that would help solve our adult illiteracy rate or general education problem.

Or our engineers were taught to think their way. To offer solutions to our electricity, water and infrastructural problems.

Or economics and development students were trained to deliver. Oh the practical solutions they could offer right now. The system they could put forward.

It hasn’t happened so. We select courses based on the jobs available. Be a lawyer, “you must get side way you go catch an the make small money.” “Engineering as you done so you the get work.” “Dem need social workers na every office.”Our lecturers do little to change these misconceptions or to make us fall in love with our courses.

The pursuit of our degrees strayed us from learning. We saw subjects and modules as obligatory lessons to pass, not life lessons to learn. We ran towards easy A when it came to electives because no one advised us to consider what we wanted to do after college.

I don’t blame our lecturers, like us, their degrees failed several of them. It’s truly luck to break the circle. To stop waiting on one’s degree to help and use the knowledge acquired during the degree to guide us.

Because we had little knowledge passed to us during our degrees, we are all struggling. We struggle to do better at work. We struggle to compete on an international level, and change systems at home.

This is what worries me about getting another degree in Sierra Leone.

Massah Esther Nyally Bockarie