The opposited small bang theory
This article will not bore you with words like atoms, cosmic rays, space, and any such thing that has to do with how the world began. Rather, it is pointing to a lesson which the big bang teaches but the inhabitants of the universe have understood in a different context.
Before delving unassumingly into the big bang theory, let us have a short definition. The theory according to NASA Science Space Place postulates that “the universe began existing as a single point and when the universe began, it was just hot, tiny particles (that formed atoms) mixed with light and energy. It was nothing like what we see now. As everything expanded and took up more space, it cooled down.
Well, just like the big universe that came to be as a result of a big bang, the idea of big solutions and innovations have always appealed to almost everyone- leaders, investors, public administrators, policymakers, businessmen, academicians, students, you name it- even infants. Who does not want an attention-grabbing solution that makes the headlines of national dailies? Amid the complexities that our dear country (and the world at large) is faced with, we are tempted consciously or unconsciously to find a big innovation that we believe will solve one of the problems and as well, attract prize monies, and recognition.
The situation is now the survival of the individual or group with the biggest ideas. Are we not beginning to overlook the small indivisible particles -solutions- that on sustainable collaboration and fusion could make a big difference to our world? Should a young Nigerian be asked the biggest problems facing young people today, it would not be surprising that poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to quality education will top the
list amongst others. Some years ago, two big ideas we proposed and executed to increase
access to the latter- quality education. This idea made the headlines and appeared sexy to
Many state governments in Nigeria were said to understudy the model for possible replication in their states. Demolition and reconstruction and in some places serious facelift of many school buildings began and to crown it, tablets of knowledge known as “opon-imo” were being distributed to final year students of secondary schools in the state. The vision of the ideas was simply; (1) to increase the student-capacity of schools and make the environment conducive for learning and (2) to improve grades of students in Senior School Certificate Examinations (SCCE) through access to e-books on the tablets.
The government that implemented these big ideas must have thought well to design the tablets in such a way that they do not have access to the Internet – to prevent distraction while studying. Also, compared to the dilapidation and old-fashion associated with government schools, this government raised the standard to one that beats some private schools.
The impression these projects made sure deserved the World Summit Awards.
So much recognition, so many funds, so many expectations. The latter is being cut short year after year however as the SSCE result which is to show the impact of both big ideas has not been encouraging. So far, the state has not ranked in the top 20 of the 37 states including the Federal Capital Territory- Abuja since the implementation date.
In retrospect, both ideas are great and appear to be just what was needed to provide/increase access to quality education. The worthy intention of the government responsible for these has joined the long list of solutions that sounded like a big bang in the beginning but fell short of expectations after execution.
Many emerging young leaders are not exclusive to those adding to this list. Quick to brainstorm ideas that are wow and maybe are new, they include statistics and infographics that give their big ideas a powerful tone. Their 2+2 equals 4 and like a bang, the judges are wowed, they attract seed funds, and off they go to implement the ideas. In the philanthropic arena, young people are making huge efforts. Some go as far as giving talks to half the schools in a whole state and in the space of twelve months they claim to have impacted so much as 8,000 lives.
Quite huge, laudable. This set of big idealists make it to the finals of many selection processes for international events and recipients of social impact grants. A Professor of high repute works on a natural product and discovers its therapeutic property for a disease like obesity. He gets a lot of recognition and grants. But the ignorant woman who sells
fries just in front of his office suffers from obesity. Well, maybe the small effort of sensitizing people like her in the language they understand should be the next big idea.
Putting all of these big impacts together and comparing the quality of life of citizens, one
cannot help but ask; where did the impact go?; This article calls on policymakers, governments, investors, philanthropists, academicians, and young people to take a meticulous look at the causes of the long list of repeated failed projects/policies. Like Steve Jobs put it, “you cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward” It is hoped that lessons drawn from the past will help chart more sustainable approaches for the future.
Paying attention to the instances cited above shows that the majority of the big idealists provide solutions for the people with minimal or no contribution of the people- the recipients of the solution. Do recipients of a gadget have access to electricity to charge the device for optimum use?
When compared to textbooks, what is the level of adaptation of these students to e-books?
What is the state of the libraries in schools? Will damage to the gadget mean a forfeit of access to study materials? Who is responsible for the repair of these gadgets? When was the last time teachers wrote a competency test? Are the teachers developing themselves or are they stagnant? What if access to tablets is granted to students right from SSS1?
Thanks to a 2019 World Bank report acknowledging that’s for students to learn, they need good teachers. Thanks to UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report in 2012 which affirms that; “education is not only about making sure all children attend school”
The Small Bang Theory proposes that’s big solutions are not bad in themselves, but we must acknowledge their fallibility. And, we must begin to appreciate the small atomic fusions that account for this large and expanding universe. We must begin paying attention to small disruptions that are revolutionary in the long run. Yes, small bangs do not make the headlines, they may not win us elections, they may not grant us entry to that high-profile leadership forum…the list is endless.
This article does not encourage mediocrity in this era of global and cosmopolitan thinking. It does not encourage agricultural revolutionary thinking in the fourth industrial revolution age. It proposes rather that if public administrators all do what they do for “the people” as they claim, then it is time to make a U-turn towards the small bangs that accommodate vision, courage, long-term impact, and sustainable development. We do not want the next solutions added to the list of failed projects.
Completing the unfinished project of the previous tenure, increasing access to electricity, making primary health caregivers and school teachers take a refresher course, encouraging the growth of local startups, etc. could be the next small ideas with a big impact. Not all problems require problematic approaches. That small solution could be the next big idea we have been waiting for.
This article was written by Abigail Anaza-Mark A content writer with TYLC.