“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” – Victor Hugo
For any society to record progress, the need to harness the human resources within its fold becomes inevitable. To achieve the end of prosperity, society must uphold the means of education and empowerment of its members. In this wise, Victor Hugo’s maxim is apt. I see “school” as representing knowledge, enlightenment and education and “prison” as representing ignorance, prejudice and incivility. Hugo was therefore saying that whoever opens a channel for knowledge and enlightenment closes the path to ignorance and incivility; and that any society that prioritizes the education of its citizens should have no need to later incarcerate them for belligerence or other strong vices. This is because knowledge and enlightenment increases self-awareness, empowers the individual, and cultivates the individual as a responsible member of the society.
As a young person fortunate to have passed through formal primary, secondary and tertiary education, Hugo’s quote resonates with me. I had perceived education as merely the route to grab some qualifications needed to get a job or practice a profession. After high school, I therefore sought admission into college with a view to obtaining the degree necessary for my qualification as a lawyer. On entering college however, my horizon took a leap and my prior assumptions received monumental intellectual assaults.
My exchanges with colleagues and professors and more significantly, my romance with books – those amazing creations of incisive human intelligence – caused me to challenge my consciousness. I began wondering what the value of a degree was if one has not the knowledge to complement or animate it. Isn’t knowledge after all power? The essential thing then should be the quality and content of my mind. A degree should not be just a mere norm but a crown of knowledge and industry. It should not be all there is to life and learning.
Reoriented, I started applying myself to the acquisition of legal knowledge and lawyering skills that really matter to my goal of becoming an outstanding lawyer. Beyond reading lecture notes and attending classes, I studied statute books and legal treatises, and also participated in mooting, debating, writing and client counseling programs, all of which equipped me with the knowledge and skills relevant to succeed as a legal practitioner. I thus learned to gradually carve my own purpose in life beyond merely obtaining a degree or securing the one, two, ten or seventy marks of lecturers.
Beyond acquiring technical knowledge of the law, I also learned about knowledge and the art of learning itself. My university education made me realize that the scope of knowledge is enormous, so enormous that acquiring the entirety of it is beyond any single human. Even a minute specialty within a broad field often involves overwhelmingly vast information, details and literature. Confronted by my glaring human limitations vis-à-vis the colossal fountain of knowledge, my ignorance (measured by the many things I do not and will not know, no matter how hard I try) stared me visibly in the eye. My daily acquisition of knowledge thus became a concealed endeavor to roll back the frontiers of ignorance for prosperity and posterity. So even though prospects and members of the legal profession are often regarded as ‘learned’, I continue to see myself as a learner, consciously pushing back the barriers of ignorance, consciously opening the doors of my enlightenment, so as to bridge the width of the prison of my ignorance and incivility.
It was also through my education that I first had access to an unprecedented variety of people. For instance, in the university, one barely knows all the students in one’s faculty, not to talk of the entire school. This unlimited access to a wide variety of people provided me with a rare opportunity to learn about diverse people, cultures, religions, perspectives and personalities than I had been exposed to in my home environ. All these marked a huge turning point in my intellectual and general development as the barricades to my horizon were shattered and a broader worldview steadily replaced a parochial outlook. This peoples’ education increased my appreciation of the inherent beauty of our diverse world.
At the university, I also cultivated myself as a responsible and productive member of the society. The university provided me with numerous volunteer opportunities which remain potent means of giving back to the society. Through these volunteer works, I learnt empathy, humanity and true understanding. Like Martin Luther King Jr., I became “…cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states” on realizing that we (humans) are “…caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
And no single person or nation is an island on its own. The group tasks often assigned to us in the university further accentuated our learning. Each member of a group was usually assessed on the presentation of a randomly chosen member of the group. Through this, we were made to deeply understand that as a team, we were as strong as our weakest link. Groups therefore came together on assigned tasks to ensure that together everyone achieves more.
Staying in school hostels with different roommates also enabled me to imbibe positive attitudes such as love, tolerance, cooperation, as well as communication skills like listening and understanding other people’s perspectives. These are all aspects of peace education necessary to achieve a stable and better world.
My own experience has thus demonstrated to me the validity of Hugo’s maxim: schooling is not just about acquiring degrees to practice a profession, it is also about the critical knowledge necessary to succeed in the society but more importantly, it is about developing character and nurturing individuals as responsible members of the society to lead a better life and leave a better world.
Awesome Read. You always inspire
Many thanks Chiagozie. Thanks for reading and your comment.
Astonishing…keep inspiring 💙
Thanks a lot, Fatimoh.
Nice read. Great write up.
This is really awesome, it exudes intrinsic details on the importance of education and knowledge gathering.
Thanks for your thought.
This is awesome, it explains the different perspective an individual develops as he becomes educated and exposed.
More power to your elbow.
Many thanks for the apt summary.
Excellent, and I agree with the points you make. “…schooling is not just about acquiring degrees to practice a profession..” Especially this. Tertiary education is not just a conveyor belt to transport people to the job market.
Thank you Dora for your perspective.
An excellent read it is… Well done Abdullateef!
Thanks so much Chinedu
Great piece. Education and learning is an everyday assignment. Each passing moment is an opportunity to learn something.
I agree with your addition, Cynthea. Learning is a life-long process. Thank you.
Victor Hugo’s quote is most correct.
Schooling is exposure both in knowledge and actions. The behavioural exposure schooling provides shapens the determinants of our actions and inactions. It is the absence of these determinants that widen prison gates.
I am always delighted to read your write ups, Abdul.
Thank you very much for your succinct and apt reflection on Hugo’s maxim and for your kind words on my writings.
👌 top notch
Thank you sir
Interesting piece of writing and articulately put together. Keep up the great work.
Very many thanks, dear madam.
“Let us open more school doors and shut the prisons” perhaps like the Netherlands.
I suggest this essay to be circulated by readers, to get to school administrators at all levels.
Thank you, Legalbreed. I agree with your suggestion.
Great work and an eye opener
Thanks a lot, sir
Awesome piece. Education liberates the soul of those who choose to be liberated by it.
Yes, Gabriel. It does. Many thanks.
Nice read Lateef! You always inspire.
Thanks a lot.
I like how you use the big words with so much ease, and still convey the message!!! I guess that’s what education does to you.
A good read. Good job my learned friend.
Thank you, thank you, learned sire.
Very well written piece. Good work Abdul!
Thank you very much, John
Great write up. But I somewhat disagree with the concept that prisons may not be necessary. They are relevant to the society today in order to serve as a place of reformation for those who have a brush with the laws of the society. While being a reformation center, it is also an isolation center for those offenders who are not open to the ideas of reformation because criminality to them is a way of life.
Thank you Hamzat for your perspective. I agree with it. Prisons are necessary for punishment, reformation and isolation of offenders. But the quantum of offenders and the volume of prisons may be significantly diminished by quality education and learning experience through schools. That’s my point.
Thank you for sharing your view and for the comment
There is no end to acquiring knowledge if you want to distinguish yourself. Thank you for sharing and inspiring.
True, Elizabeth. Thanks.
This is a beautiful piece Abdullateef. Every student needs to read this.
Thank you, Qaozara. Please circulate amongst as much students as you can.
The essence of our education goes beyond acquiring a degree. This is such a great read, thanks for sharing.
I agree Amarachi. Thanks
Interesting read. I agree that our educational system should not be only about acquiring knowledge but also, and importantly, about building respectable and well mannered individuals.
Thank you for this exposè, Abdullateef.
It’s my pleasure, Hanif. Thanks for reading and your comment.
Interesting piece. I can’t agree more.
Thanks so much sir
Bravo Abdul! C’est un bon article. C’est très vrai. Super!
Je vous remercie!
A great read. Informative and inspiring. Well done!
Thank you very much.
The monumental intellectual assaults has really triggered an amazing write up.
Indeed, it has.
Thank you very much.
This was beautifully written. It’s rare to write so intelligently about schooling and still have it inspire others to go beyond just acquiring the papers. This inspires. Well done Abdullateef.
I’m glad to hear the essay inspires. Thank you for your kind comments.
Beautiful and nice write up
Thanks so much
Insightful! The art of freedom from shackles is not necessarily from liberalization of the hands rather from that of the mind even from the greatest shackles of ignorance.
Thank you for your comment.
What a true exegesis of Hugo’s maxim! However, education can be developmental, as well catastrophal. Much as education remains a potent tool of taming bellicosity, it is also a tool of mind-fogging..
Thank you very much, Fathi, although I think education in its true sense can never be catastrophal.
Well written. Knowledge is a weapon against ignorance and a tool for success in our society today
Yes, Blessing. That is true.
May your pen never run dry.
Many thanks, Elijah. Ameeen!!
Abdullateef’s free flowing prose and mellifluous writing style is on point again. The article is very characteristic of the man and what he stands for- excellence!
Thank your very much, Levi, for your kind comment.
Inspirational talk from a motivational speaker….. nice write up
Thank you Abosede
Thanks for sharing your experience on the matter. The way you wrote it, you made it sound better than what one would eventually do speaking. I had a pleasent moment reading your text and I am afraid my comment is taking long.
This question: Isn’t knowledge after all power?” will certainly reverberates on me. I wouldn’t like to take my comment to a religious path but I can’t avoid remembering what is written in Ecclesiastes 7:12: “Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this:Wisdom preserves those who have it”.
Your reflection is as exciting as getting kwowledge. Looking to your description on your experience I am conscious that it is very important to focus on the best and efficient practices to search and get knowledge. In other words It is important to learn how to learn. I understand that fortunately you had the chance to learn methodology and thus you could narrow you choices and focus on the best for your professional career and intelectual growth.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and talent.
Thank you Dimetrio for sharing your feeling reading the essay.
Awesome intellectual written keep it up Abdullateef
Many thanks, Ibrahim
Thoughtful. Insightful. Inspiring.
Thanks for letting the world leaf this page.
Thanks so much.
You hit the nail on the head. Well written with each line sending truthful jabs into the readers mind.
Thank you very much for your comment.
Great write up. Keep it up.
Victor Hugo made a resounding cliché there. Many believing elites live by the philosophy of this cliché. Apparently, schools are avenues for knowledge, light and power. The opposite of ignorance is knowledge. Schools and prisons are like oppositions. One gives way to get away from the other. Thank you for your elucidating write. Best regards.
I agree with your contribution. Thank you for sharing.
Wow…a great read that worths more than my 3 minutes…more power to your elbow…let’s loud this.
I’ve visited several schools in the FCT for charitable works but I see how much our society has no value for education even at the lowest level…let’s shut more prison doors.
Yes, let’s shut more prison doors.
Educating and insightful. You’re one of the rare gems I’ve known brother . Keep it going
Wow… Many many thanks.
The Importance of Education can never be overemphasized. This text brilliantly Captures such importance to a very detailed and Fine extent! You Inspire!
Thank you Beulah for the contribution.
Great piece. I am on four with you on this Abdul Lateef.
The importance of education cannot be overflogged.
We however need to be careful not to let the real essence of education get lost because of heavy reliance on degrees and paper certificates.
True that Funke.
This is an insightful piece.
It is indeed a confirmation that the best investment is that which is directed towards continuous learning and development.
I am in complete agreement with your reflection.
Great piece Abdulateef. Education indeed goes beyond the acquisition of degrees to the shaping of individuals in their entirety.
Apt summary Bunmi. Thank you!
Good write up
Unsurprisingly impeccable. Keep it up dear bro
Thanks for the good words.
Wow…. A very nice write up. It is also enlightening .
Good to hear. Many thanks.
Education is indeed the best legacy, everly presenting an invaluable platform for the cultivation and discovery of the boundless capacities of the human mind. Quite enlightening and astute read!
True that, Precious. Useful addition.
Thanks for this, this should be a compulsory read for all secondary school students and university students
Apt piece. I absolutely agree with you. This could not have been better said. Thank you for this Abdul.
It’s my pleasure, Caleb. Thanks for reading.
A good one. More power, more wisdom.
Thanks a lot
This article is full of insights for whoever is in doubt about the value of schooling and education in their lives. Well done, Mr Abdul.
Good to hear. Thank you sir
The opening quote is apt!
More power to your ‘pen’, Mr. Abdullateef!
Thanks so much bro
Awesome stuff. Very well done!
Thank you sir
Awesome stuff. Very well done!
Lateef, this is a great piece of work.
Inspired. JazaakumuLlaahu khayran, bro.