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The 'Certificate burner'

By Enyinnaya Appolos

I have seen the trending video of a man who allegedly burned his academic certificate before the camera and posted the same to the internet.

I consider this an alleged act because the man in question failed to make public his detailed identity for us to ascertain if the burnt certificates belonged to him or a late relative. I said this because, in this era where people make content for money on social media, people chase clout with content that can attract traffic.

However, the unconventional act has provoked debate on the value society places on formal education. While some may view this act as radical, it prompts us to reconsider the role of education in our lives and the choices we make.

For me, the fundamental principle at the heart of this incident is the man’s right to determine the fate of his certificates, whether to keep or burn them.


This action also serves as a strong reminder that education is a personal journey, and individuals should have the autonomy to decide the path that best suits their aspirations and talents.

What I consider the key takeaway from this provocative act is a call for a paradigm shift in our societal approach to education. I have always opined that not everyone is bound to pursue tertiary education after completing primary and secondary schooling.

There should be a compulsory emphasis on the need to recognize the equal importance of both formal and informal education.

Some should proceed to acquire skills after completing primary and secondary education. Enough of this unproductive pursuit of tertiary education that has not helped individuals and society.

It is important to remind us that the global economy as of today, is in high demand for diverse skills and not necessarily certificates. Therefore, the action of this man is urging us to reconsider the prevailing notion that a certificate is the ultimate measure of one’s capabilities. What truly matters is the possession of practical skills that individuals can apply effectively in real-world scenarios.


We should begin now to encourage and prioritize the need for skills and certificates.

Instead of paying for special centers and bringing schools and teachers to award grades and scores to their children in school, Parents and teachers, as influential guides in a person’s educational journey, should actively identify the aptitudes and interests of their pupils. This involves discerning who should pursue tertiary education and who would benefit more from acquiring skills in various fields.

Interestingly, the realm of technology and computers serves as a prime example of how skills can be cultivated outside the traditional tertiary education system. One doesn’t necessarily need a university or its equivalent certificates to become proficient in the tech corrido.

Nigerian society must learn to value and appreciate skills over mere credentials. We must dismantle the stigma associated with not possessing tertiary education certificates. Individuals with valuable skills gained through informal education channels deserve recognition and respect for their contributions to our economy.

The government must insist on a transformative step towards a more equitable society that involves reevaluating the compensation for skilled workers. There should be incentives, including offering attractive wages for those who excel in their respective skills, which not only acknowledges their expertise but also serves as an encouragement for others to pursue skill development.


As far as I am concerned, the man who burned his academic certificate has ignited a conversation that challenges the conventional norms surrounding education. This should be a call to action for society to accord respect to skills, respect individual choices, and foster an environment where everyone, regardless of their educational path, can compete and thrive.

I will not commend or condemn the man who burned his academic certificate. It is his right to choose what to do with it. I reiterate that not everyone needs tertiary education, and insist that formal and informal education are critical to our economy and the growth and development of our society.

I call for an immediate end to the stigma against those without tertiary education but with valuable skills.

Enyinnaya Appolos, a journalist, writes from Abuja

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