• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Can the NYSC come to Nigeria’s rescue?

Corps members open 38,000 businesses – NYSC

Speaking to the press at a forum recently, as EduTimes Africa continues to mark its first year anniversary, its Chief Executive Officer, Oladapo Akande, revealed its plans for the year, amongst which is its proposal to the Federal Government to tweak the National Youth Service Corps scheme by integrating a three- to four-month mandatory skills acquisition programme for all graduates.

As the publisher of EduTimes Africa, Mr. Adebiyi Oke also chipped in; this would further align the publication with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating poverty (SDG 1), zero hunger (SDG 2), quality education (SDG 4), decent work, and economic growth (SDG 8). The publication wonders how these can be met in a country of 230 million people where 70 percent are youth and where there is currently a 33.3 percent unemployment rate.

Stating that EduTimes Africa has never limited itself to the business of only pointing out Africa’s various socioeconomic challenges, which anyone can do, but has always taken pride in its penchant to proffer insightful and innovative solutions, Oladapo Akande rued Nigeria’s digital, technical, and vocational skills deficit, which has often led to business organisations having to employ expatriates, many of whom are not university graduates, just to bridge the skills gap.

Quoting from a 2019 report compiled by UNESCO and UNEVOC and in collaboration with the National Board for Technical Education, Nigeria (NBTE), Mr. Bankole Ojo-Medubi, Executive Director (Operations & Projects) at Westwood Works and a close associate of EduTimes Africa, made the following revelations: ‘Interest in TVET is lower in Africa than in other regions (DANIDA 2002c).

The Nigerian TVET enrollment rate is 5 percent (10x less than Germany’s 52 percent). TVET contribution to GDP: 5 percent (Germany, 25 percent), and the number of recognised TVET programmes in Nigeria: 40+ (Germany has 8x more at 300+). ‘ Germany, which recently replaced Japan as the world’s 4th largest economy, is famed globally as an industrial giant.

In order to position itself in a way that will make sure its voice is not only heard, but it will actually be able to make concrete contributions to the nation’s economy, EduTimes Africa revealed that it was recently onboarded as a member of the Education Policy Commission at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Nigeria’s biggest and most influential think tank.

Mr. Akande then went on to point out the irony of being the one who conceived this proposal to tweak the NYSC programme, 51 years after his late father, Samuel Babafemi Akande, then a Permanent Secretary during the General Yakubu Gowon administration, pioneered the NYSC scheme.

Amongst other very cogent reasons, the scheme was initially introduced to encourage proper integration of its citizens, made up of different tribes, and, of course, to ingrain a spirit of service and patriotism in its youth.

As much as it is essential that the essence of the former not be lost, he believes most Nigerians will agree that there is hardly a better way in which the Nigerian youth can serve his or her country in these tough times than to contribute to its economic revival, and what better way to do that than to skill up and be better empowered to contribute?

EduTimes Africa’s proposal to include skills acquisition in the NYSC programme is predicated on the belief that if the graduate’s certificate is unable to put food on the table due to the lack of available jobs, his or her skills will.

While concluding, the CEO quoted one of EduTimes Africa’s regular columnists, Angora Aman, a TVET specialist in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, who says, ‘Our future is indeed in our hands, and the hands we need are skilled, trained, and ready to build a prosperous Africa.’

The introduction of this proposed amendment to the NYSC scheme would go a long way towards making Nigerian graduates more employable and, in many cases, empower them with the relevant skills to be self-reliant by creating their own source of income.

Whichever way, both they and society are sure to win.