Convocation – the end that signals a new beginning.
Growing up as a young child in Nigeria, one of the major achievements we envisioned for ourselves was wearing a convocation gown, signalling our entrance into the “labour market”.
We daydreamed of cutting beautiful cakes, taking a ton of photos, eating meals prepared by loved ones, glimpsing the faces of family members we hadn’t seen in a long time and saying goodbye to our coursemates who would be travelling home.
The convocation experience was not to be MISSED.
A convocation is a ceremony organized by educational bodies to confer academic degrees to students who have completed their studies. In Nigeria, this ceremony usually takes place during the second semester of a session with some schools doing theirs at other times depending on their academic calendar.
Just like graduation ceremonies signal the end of high school, convocation ceremonies signal the end of getting a college degree. Apart from the awarding of degrees, prizes are also given to the top performers in different faculties.
Top Nigerian schools like the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, University of Ibadan are among the first set of academic institutions to have such a ceremony in Nigeria.
There is a debate on whether convocation is proof of academic performance or just a tradition. Let’s delve in to know more.
Convocation as a Proof of Intellectual Performance
“Seeing is believing” states the age-old quote. As humans, we tend to need physical validation before we believe a thing. Hence, the reason we are given certificates after each course we take.
Going to college and not being awarded a degree is as good as not going to one. This shows that you possess certain skills that helped you to achieve your goals like resilience, teamwork, dedication, time management, and financial management.
Also, it proves that you have a significant amount of knowledge of the course you studied. That’s why first Class/Summa cum laude graduates are put on a pedestal and offered numerous opportunities.
Furthermore, CEOs, managers, and corporate organizations can offer you job roles based on your degree. It also shows that you took your studies seriously and graduated with good grades.
Convocation as a Tradition
Convocation is indeed a tradition. Just like heirlooms are passed from one family generation to another, convocation ceremonies are a rite of passage one experiences after getting an academic degree.
For anything to be a tradition, it must contain certain rituals that are used to identify it. In the case of a convocation, this tradition is filled with rituals such as the wearing of gowns, the procession of the faculty, and the conferring of degrees.
Furthermore, traditions are practised by a community which in this case are the college students, professors and the administrative body; passing on these activities to the next generation.
A Choice to be made
Our discussion might make you want to see convocation as proof of intellectual performance or just a tradition. However, considering both arguments, convocation is BOTH in Nigeria. In this part of the world, convocation is seen as a tradition passed down through generations containing rituals to signify its presence and proof of intellectual performance by the bestowing of academic degrees.
Like the rest of the world, convocation will continue to be a part of the educational system in Nigeria and a big celebration among family members. The experience is best enjoyed as a tradition and as a proof of intellectual performance. Not forgetting that it is only one out of numerous days of the graduate’s existence and the beginning of life outside the walls of a classroom.
Researched by Safiya Onayi Ahmed