It is no longer news that there are no jobs in Nigeria. At least, the ones whose feet roam the streets hunting jobs are enough testimony. The rate of unemployment breaks the heart yet our higher institutions, yearly, turn-out graduate into the overpopulated labour market. However, we must stop to ask ourselves, if there is an abundance of jobs tomorrow; are there many deserving job seekers?
It is rather unfortunate that the vermin of bad leadership and followership has consumed even the gown. The politicization of the education sector has not helped either, coupled with the visionless theoretical focus of the curriculum. Everyone is to blame for the woes of the education sector. To think that there are university graduates who cannot write application letters or carry out elementary system operation leaves one galled by the near-emptiness of the years spent by many within the four walls of schools.
Ironically, the problem, in the case of most who blame the government and the system, is that they do not deserve a job. The indiscipline that runs in the vein of many; the poor attitude to work, and the emptiness of their vessels disesteem the certificates they carry. It is to our shame that only a few universities in Nigeria have international recognition.
Should many employers of labour be given a feedback device opportunity, we would be shocked at the ignorance of many universities graduate. To whom much is given, much is expected in return. Hence, it is a slap on the relevance of education if a graduate of English is grammatically incompetent. We are all the culpable blacksmiths who have failed to mould a better world through education. While it is quite easy to point accusing fingers to teachers who, mostly; have lost their vision as national builders, we cannot overlook the wrong expectations placed on schooling especially in a third world country like ours.
Education is a continuing process; it does not start with schooling neither should it end with it. Being in a school, especially in a higher institution, requires more of the effort of the students than the lecturers’. It is high time we all embraced self-development. The school has no magic wand; the challenges of unemployment cannot be totally blamed on the school system or the over-populated labour market. My question dear readers, is this: should there be torrential employment opportunities today, are the graduates ready?
Meanwhile, the focus of schools on written test and examinations as the true test of knowledge needs to be refaced. What that pattern has successfully produced are students with first class results but not first class brains. Emphasis should be on practical activities relevant to their fields. Enough of students of Department of English who are not exposed to sound lab; be gone with departments of Communication studies without a technical studio, let us as well bring alive the dead medical laboratories with archaic specimens. Is it not high time we disinfected the inglorious representation of our intellectualism?
More importantly, the industrial training scheme must be introduced to all. Many students need to be given the opportunity to practically engage their theoretical knowledge. Many of these lectures are soon forgotten after examination; the students need to see beyond the walls. The industrial training will at best be a reflection of how much they know and what more they need to learn. Also, it goes a long way to prepare students for what lies ahead.
Above all, creativity must be encouraged. Creativity is another way out of the challenge of unemployment. All around us, there is a surge of creativeness among Nigerians but the problem undealt with remains the stifling environment and our attitudes. We hardly support innovation, no one talks about the Nigerian who built a solar-powered tricycle; no one engages the writers who through poems, plays and novels try to charge societal changes. If the present crops of young innovators are encouraged, others who have been neglecting theirs will crawl out of their shells. Of course, there is many a Soji Cole who has been encouraged but how many Nigerians, even those within his community, patronized the book before emerging as the winner of NLNG? It was on this note of concern that Soji Cole, in an interview, urged us to focus on his works and not the NLNG prize.
On a final note, students need to help themselves. In a country bed bugged by bad leadership and neglected education sector, it is necessary for the youth to embrace self-education. Education is a continuing process with schooling being a smaller part of it. We all must utilize every opportunity we have to be the best. Technological advancement remains underutilized in our world; the youth should embrace e-learning. What you owe yourself, in a country that seems unhelpful, is to help yourself.
Rachael Ogunmuyiwa is a final-year student of the Department of English, University of Ibadan.