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Has education failed the Nigerian youths?



Minister of education Adamu Adamu [Photo Credit] The Guardian.

Clearly, the deafening song (not swan song now) on the lips of many Nigerians youths, especially, those who have passed through the four walls of a university, these days, is that education has failed them.

And the question you're tempted to ask is "in what context or in what ways as the case may be"?

Is it that the educations they've received is inadequate and so are unable to function according to the dictates of their discipline or meet societal expectations?

Perhaps, either of the divides may well fit the narrative if you consider a growing concern being accentuated by experts cutting across several industries, whom you might say should be in the know, anyways, about their employability.

Just like the Yoruba have aptly said: the hands are the forerunners of dance while songs are the forerunners of treachery.

Today, we're quite familiar with these lines: "Nigerian youths are unemployable" , and "The lazy Nigerian youths" uttered by the president not long ago".

If you ask me, the two are like self-indicting refrains of the same musical composition of our failings as a people and a nation that should by now be weary to the ears of genuinely concerned stakeholders.

Indeed, the one constant feature of the recruitment process of many corporate establishments today includes an in-house re-training of successful applicants regardless of what their CGPA says.

Notwithstanding also what their performance is during one of a written examination or an oral interview they are made to face.

These in the meantime may have cast a shadow of being negligent, first on the policymakers whose duty it is to upgrade, as and when due, the existing educational curricula through properly funded researches.

And secondly, the educational institutions (tertiary particularly) saddled with the responsibility of impacting learning, helping these teeming youths build lifelong capacities and character for effective socio-economic and maybe their political participation in addition to other existential needs.

Definitely, if they've done their job the embarrassing scenarios painted above would not arise.

In addition to what educational experts referred to as obsolete curricula still being operated by our tertiary institutions, the sector has on several occasions had to contend with incessant industrial actions embarked upon, especially, by members of the academic staff, and to a lesser extent, the non-academic staff.

More often than not, the crux of their strike action is usually that of inadequate funding to which financial autonomy has been suggested as a permanent solution,

This proposition, though, has regularly been rejected by successive governments and yet, surprisingly, none has been able to meet its financial obligations to the sector at least in such a way that reflects the agreement reached with Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) which date back to 2011 or thereabout.

And when these strike actions are called off, what most of the universities do is stepped up academic activities with a view to covering lost grounds after which the students are herded into the examination halls.

It is no brainer; therefore, that this unfortunate turn of event has more often than not leaves the Nigerian students at a great disadvantage.

In between, there are also a couple of other challenges which students are faced with. This comes in the form of financial and passion related exploitations depending on the sex of the students now. 

Although the latter it must be acknowledged is gradually reducing after a couple of scapegoats have been made of some lecturers who instead of acting as proper in locus parentis to these young girls have decided to take advantage of them. For much too long, "sex for marks" has gone on to become a trending phrase on our university campuses.

In the other instance of exploitation, students are made to sign course form to which failure to comply attracts penalties such as mark deduction. 

Another one is the need for students to purchase handouts which attracts specific marks. I'm aware it has been outlawed in our universities especially the ones belonging to the federal government. But occasional breaches still do occur.

There are penalties too when they're absent from lectures many of which are scheduled for timeline not considerate of students' conveniences.

But I for one cannot feign ignorance of what the lyrics of the somewhat mournful elegy Nigerian youths from the north to the south are mouthing entails.

It is chiefly about their inability to secure gainful employment or lack of opportunities through which to fulfill their other potentials or dreams if you like after graduating from the university.

But it has not always been like this. There was a time in this country when as you're graduating opportunities of jobs accompanied by mouth-watering packages are lined up for you. And I'm speaking specifically of the 60s to the early 90s.

Then, the population of the country is still very manageable but not controlled. 

Now, however, it has more than tripled which has, necessarily, for a lack of adequate planning compounded a lot of developmental projections for the country of which the provision of jobs for the growing army of graduates being churned out yearly by the tertiary institutions whose numbers have also increased is not factored in.

So, valid as the angst and rumination of these youths may sound concerning their inability to secure a gainful employment many years after graduating, it is yet not enough reason for them to become hopeless or perpetually frustrated. 

The one fact they must come to grip with is that the dynamics are no longer what they use to be back in the day. And it is everybody's fault. I mean if we're to apportion blame, there's certainly enough to go round.

But more certainly will go to the older generation, whom one may argue have everything on the platter of gold - free education, spacious hostel, free food, overseas allowance, committed and motivated lecturers and the likes and yet are not reciprocating such privileged gestures from the state.

Instead, what you hear from them and dishonestly too is "if you think education is expensive, try ignorance". However, they cannot be totally exculpated from the eye-sore which the education viz-a-vis the political-economy sectors have become over time.

Population explosion and lack of corresponding economic development have combined to make nonsense of the genuine aspirations of the Nigerian youths.

More so because of the belief of the young Nigerians that university education is the only passport to success in life. 

University education, the young Nigerians must be reminded is the minimum requirement needed for them to face the world they've never known outside the four walls of their various university campuses.

We're clearly in the era of responsible self-help and aggressive personal development by the routes of entrepreneurship, vocational training, talent-based aspirations, innovative abilities driven of course by a turbocharged evolution in the IT.

To it, we must accept that a lot of the regular jobs we are used to having have been lost and many more are destined to follow suit in the coming months and not years.

Now more than ever, the Nigerian youths are in need of more practical pieces of training in entrepreneurship, IT, Agricultural value-chain, digital-oriented skills because going by the new trend a lot of jobs are been served professionally over the net remotely.

Though things to some extent, are skewed against them, I'm nevertheless more convinced that the Nigerian youths even from what they have received from the arguably disjointed educational system can still get the job done provided they will keep their eyes on the ball of what matters.

Otherwise, it would amount on their part to have failed even the education they have received if they remain lay-back hoping and wishing things will just happen without their direct involvement.

And as we continue to hope and advocate that the needful is done by the way of government declaring a state of emergency in the sector.

Now more than ever is the time for the youths to be deliberate at trying out new and daring options not just through what worked for others but what may work for them both experimentally and experientially following faithfully in the trajectory of one of the nine fundamental intelligence available to the human person by default.

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