Character knowledge versus default knowledge 

Endowed with knowledge means acquisition of intellectual dexterity. But knowledge is full-fledged and more prolific for that person who plays it with the music of character to produce good actions and propel the society forward. Hence, the pathetic trend is knowledge without character is harmful and needless. Sadly, the campaign for entrenched character knowledge has since deteriorated.

While knowledge empowers an individual and gives him or her the liberty to seek his or her own path by making rational decisions, character may be what we choose to do with that knowledge which has a direct bearing on the society. Knowledge gives positive results by succumbing to being action- oriented alongside character which makes tremendous contributions for the cultivation of a ‘whole’ person. Character harmonised with knowledge is the indefatigable stimulant and direct product for enhancing social viability.

Character knowledge is generally regarded as the natural curriculum for the evolution of responsible citizens who can change themselves so that they can later change the society for our betterment. Knowledge and character are the heart and soul of good citizens who are a great asset to the society. Unfortunately, Nigeria has lost a sense of real national character owing to the blatant relegation of character knowledge. Consequently, we are troubled by obnoxious systems, beliefs and practices that hinder active support for character development to improve our living, our politics, our economy, our education, etc. In a nutshell, character knowledge is all about the installation of a ‘new’ Nigeria.

Default knowledge, on the other hand, is oppressive and conservative, wanting in philosophical values, lacking the desired goals for the general well- being of the people. Default knowledge does not take into cognisance remarkable virtues and the sterling qualities associated with character. It does not open the door to societal fulfillment. That is why discipline has disappeared in our national consciousness. Default knowledge breeds many societal ills such as corruption, nepotism, bad governance and general underdevelopment.

Knowledge construction without  character formation is like building structures without a foundation. The mixture of knowledge and character is like a laboratory experiment. When character is missing, knowledge alone is left asunder and the symbiotic system collapses. This colloborates with the assertion of the late Mahatma Gandhi, who stresses that knowledge without character is one of the seven major sins destroying the world. He calls it a sin because of its potential dangers and one can draw as many examples as possible explaining these ubiquitous risks.

Our centers of learning are typical examples where knowledge and character have parted ways. There are untold stories of many lecturers who have acquired the notorious title of the ‘ departmental dogs’ for their inordinate desire of imposing sex on innocent female students. They are sex merchants who have demonstrated lack of respect for the students they are supposed to protect against any form of harm. They have completely sacked character from the domain of knowledge. Below are few instances.

In 2016, a professor at the University of Port Harcourt was caught having sex with a student in a classroom at night. Unknown to him, he was being recorded on video. In the same year, a lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria was discovered to have disguised as a woman with Hijab and sneaked into the female hostel to fulfill his sex desire with a student. Another professor was heard demanding to have sex five times with a female student before he could upgrade her from 33% to a percentage of her choice. However, female students who could not agree to sex have to pay money. Sexual harassment is also common in public senior secondary schools in Nigeria where some teachers are actually looters of public morality.  

The question is, why do some unscrupulous lecturers and teachers who ought to be part of students character and career builders ridicule themselves by demanding sex? According to Billy Graham, when character is lost, all is lost. We are now concertedly paying the price of loss of character and almost everything goes decay. The custodians of knowledge have forsaken character. In the end, we are all losers.

History will always remember Professor Tylor, a one time vice chancellor of the University of Calabar. He is of the opinion that a university degree is not a degree if it is not used to fight injustice. A university degree in most cases is now an educational license for the perpetuation of injustice. Enmeshed in the deep crisis of knowledge without character, many degree holders get opportunity only to promote injustice through the various offices they hold.

A certificate of ‘meal ticket’ syndrome is devoid of character as its primary objective can never foster nationalism and recognition for the dignity of labour. How many students graduate with character in a year so that when they get a ‘ degree position’ they will not be irresponsible?  What is the difference between an illiterate, unofficial person who steals a hen and an educated, official person who has acquired many degrees but also uses his ‘degree position’ to steal billions of naira belonging to the public? 

As corruption bites hard, Nigerians condone and boost examination malpractices, especially at the secondary school level. This is a training ground for the development of default knowledge and by extension, default citizens. But think about it, the late Abraham Lincoln had taught his little child that it was more honourable to fail than to cheat in the examination. In today’s Nigeria, examination has been made to forfeit its conceptual meaning and most of us do not care.

Philosopher Herbert Spencer has a great message on this theme: ‘The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.’ People are judged more by their character than their knowledge. Here, we are to be more aligned to the content of character and the quality of its actions. Character makes the man and the man is further reconstructed by character to change the circumstances.  

Abdullahi writes from Ringim, Jigawa state via

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