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The Bible Society of Nigeria

The BSN Quiz Culture

…and lessons for reinventing Nigeria’s educational system

When in 2019, up-and-coming Nigerian singer and songwriter, Gururu, in partnership with his friend, TDY, released his so-called “banger” titled “Las Las”, little did we know the music will resonate so deep and gain a shockingly wide audience acceptance despite the sordidness of its lyrics. The song which also featured the infamous slang “kapachumarimachupago” by popular Nigerian singer, Zlatan Ibile, contained lyrics that scathingly made light of formal education and scorned its unquantifiable benefits. A line from the song, copiously repeated for emphasis, has it that “las las school na scam,” a colloquial expression translated to mean that formal education is deceitful in its totality and invariably, a waste of time acquiring it.  The song might not have received a Grammy nomination, but it sure got the attention of a large proportion of youths in Nigeria, particularly from the Generation Z and Generation Alpha, demographic cohorts signifying children born between 1996 – 2010 and 2011 – 2025 respectively.

Well, in this part of the world, the reality is that more young people are beginning to see formal education as a waste of time. The rigour often associated with academics is considered boring, stressful, and illogical, especially when contemporary media culture, facilitated by digital technologies, has exposed them to an illusional pathway to success through some sort of quixotic ideologies.

The discouragement from formal education is further fueled by the growing army of unemployed university graduates roaming the streets in search of unavailable white-collar jobs- a situation many see as a disincentive to the long and arduous journey of academic adventure. Some youths on the other end of the divide erroneously assume that formal education is no longer necessary given the exponential technological development which has led to the creation of many profitable professions that do not necessarily require formal education.

"Las Las, education no be scam o!"

Cultivating a mindset such as this would spell doom for our society as the future can only be effectively threatened by the exposure of its children to ideologies that erode the surest pathway to sustainable growth and development. Global icon and former South African president, Nelson Mandela once affirmed that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is still the most powerful weapon. This is the reason why every stakeholder in the educational system must begin an objective search, and quite urgently too, to a genuine pathway of reinventing the educational system to arouse interest and instill a passion for knowledge acquisition among the younger population. Education no be scam!

Reinforcing the age-long quiz culture is one of the certain ways of reinventing the educational system and stimulating young people’s interest in formal education. Nigerians of the older generations can reminisce with nostalgia about the good old days of quiz competitions such as the Bournvita Quiz Contest, Cowbell Mathematics Competition, and the Spelling Bee Competition, among a host of others that have now sadly been relegated to the dustbin of history. The Bible Society of Nigeria still organizes annual national quiz competitions such as the National Bible Competition, Secondary School Bible Competition, the recently introduced Primary School Bible Competition, NYSC Essay Writing Competition/National Symposium, and the Deaf Bible Quiz.

Bravo!!! Winners of the maiden Primary Schools Bible Competition display their prizes with excitement!
Fulfilment: Winners of the National Secondary School Bible Competition lift their trophy and prices!

Quizzes are fun! They make knowledge acquisition feel like play. Sometimes the incentives or prizes attached to quiz competitions make children want to participate in the competitions and win. Master Emmanuel Nwadishi, winner of our recent Primary School Bible Quiz Competition exclaimed, “I am very happy and excited about the things they gave us…” When learning becomes fun, children are likely to have interest in it. Again, children often see the process of learning as cumbersome, stressful, and daunting. Quizzes can play an important role in demystifying this challenge. Quizzes help in the learning process. They help to embed information in the brain, thus providing a firm foundation for the next stage of learning. For example, once something is mastered by making use of quizzes, grasping subsequent advanced learning will be quite easy.

The benefits of quizzes in reinventing the educational system, against all odds, can never be overemphasized. With the array of distractions emanating from social media, television, and computer games, quizzes can help children to concentrate. When a child is participating in a quiz, he keeps his focus. Most times, children struggle to stay focused when reading textbooks because the mind wanders and information is not taken in, whereas quizzes help children retain information.

Quizzing is BSN's way of making learning fun and encouraging for the younger ones

While reading has its uses, reading information and then taking a quiz force the brain to retrieve data embedded in it for future use. In fact, quizzes are the insulin of the brain! Quizzes also help students identify the gaps in knowledge and highlight areas that need more revision.

Another benefit of quizzes is that they make children enthusiastic to learn! Nine years old Miss Ademakinwa Tolani, co-winner of our recent Primary School Bible Quiz Competition, when asked to comment on her success at the competition, said, “I feel very very happy. It took me several times to prepare because the book is too much, because it is hundred (referring to My 100 Best Loved Bible Stories text used in the assessment), so I am just reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, but I thank God (Sic).”. Imagine the enthusiasm in her words! She had to repeat the word “reading” severally to buttress her point. Quizzes make children feel good, especially when they get an answer to a question correctly. There is that adrenaline rush that provides instant gratification!

In whatever lens it is viewed, one thing is clear: our educational system requires urgent reinvention, and one way we can reinvent it is by taking a cue from the BSN quiz culture. American industrialist and inventor, Henry Ford once declared that “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” In as much as our present educational system is not giving us the value we desire, is it not time we think differently? The BSN quiz culture could just be the solution to our dying educational system.