I was recently in Nigeria for official business and come across an editorial article in a local newspaper (National Mirror of February 16th) on "Graduate unemployment: The root causes", it was really astonishing. This is why.
The article starts by stating "Companies and organisations (public or private) distrust today's academic certificates. Thus such qualifications, which has already been reduced to a mere 'meal ticket' can no longer guarantee even a meal for their holders". The article goes on to say
"The alarming rate of youth unemployment may be traced to certain factors. These include population growth,youth migration from rural to urban areas, stagnation in the manufacturing sector....but the most critical factor explaining the rising youth unemployment in the country is the simple truth that the typical Nigerian youth is unemployable even after training. Most of them lack the basic job skills the employer seeks in order to turn the organizational fortunes around". These are the reasons that are given:
- "The unrestrained pursuit of lucre by parents,often making it difficulty to groom the children....exposing the child to wrong influences thus growing up lacking proper foundation for sound character. Later in life, such character flaws renders a person unemployable as a youth" .
- "Personal manners which are generally poor characterized by lack of courtesy or respect, indiscipline, a poor dress sense and moral looseness are difficult to correct by the time a child has grown beyond a certain age"
- "Closely related to the above is the skewed orientation of the school system which is no longer considered by many as a place to mould character. For instance, many students now throw away books and notes of previous classes passed as having been "passed" the classes will never be needed again"
- "Nigerian youth is more likely to exhibit some or all of the following: poor communication in standard English, a repulsive dress sense, poor manners and immorality. How then can he defend his qualifications?"
Though I do not agree 100% with the above, this article makes me ask the question "what do really students pay for when they join a particular educational institution". I have asked this question to lecturers and school administrators and at times I end up getting the response "certificates, knowledge etc". I don't agree that this is what they pay for. I want to believe that a discerning student with options will most likely choose an institution that he/she perceives to have a better teaching and learning experience. This experience will comprise of their perception on the quality of education they will receive, the networks they will create, the leadership and opportunities to excel presented, the competence exhibited in teaching, teaching resources etc. Efforts that will improve the teaching and learning experience of a student should be the primary focus of any educational institution that intends to create value in its students.