When Aina did his NYSC in a secondary school at Elebele, Bayelsa state, he was shocked to learn that some of the SS2 students couldn’t spell four-letter words, and many of them did not know the difference between ‘been’ and ‘bin’. Worse still, the students admitted they had had no English teacher for close to two years and the majority of them had no English textbooks.
It did not end there. He also observed that the students were ‘allowed’ to miss school without any consequences. This included during exam periods too. They would show up days later with funny explanations, “my mum asked me to follow her to the farm”, “my father said I should sit at home.” Interestingly, as dull as Aina felt the students were, he observed that they all passed their examinations and were steadily promoted from one class to the next.
Funmi had the same experience in a remote village in Oyo. Majority of the senior secondary school students could not write a composition and they largely communicated in Yoruba language. The school was an uncompleted building that had unplastered walls and no ceiling. There were no textbooks, libraries, laboratories or facilities to aid students’ learning.
These above scenarios are not strange in Nigeria. From the West to the East, North, and South, education in Nigeria has taken an epileptic turn. Our tertiary institutions are not left out. From very wicked lecturers (A is for God, B is for me, C is for my wife and kids and D is for you) to over-crowded classes and terrible hostels, there seems to be no way out for Nigerian students. In fact, baba Bubu had to declare a State of Emergency in the education sector in 2018.
Recently, many employers have started complaining about the quality of recent graduates being churned out from Nigerian Universities. According to them, many Nigerian graduates are a product of the botched state of education in Nigeria, thus making them – to a large extent – unemployable.
Could this be the reason for many unemployed graduates? Or could it be because the unemployment rate in Nigeria keeps shooting up? Whichever one it is, it all points to the fact that that the educational system in Nigeria has not just failed to impart knowledge into the students, but has also failed woefully in preparing Nigerians youths for the world that awaits them beyond the walls of the school.
With the rapidly changing twist taking place in the workforce sphere, there is a lesser demand for formal education or certificates and more emphasis on skill acquisition, talent, and smart work. Perhaps that’s one reason why a lot of Nigerian youths are beginning to ditch the school environment and seek their fortunes in more promising places.
So if you are a Nigerian youth and you don’t want to be tagged as ‘unemployable’ after spending 5-10 years in a Nigerian university, here are some tips to help you stand out in a crowded field.
Discover Your Talent
These three words are very difficult to do. A lot of Nigerians lack good sense of direction. That is because many Nigerian youths grow up in an environment that does not prepare them for the future, so they move with the tide. However, one way to stand out and carve a niche for yourself is to first discover who you are, what you want, what you can do, and why you want to do it. If you can answer these questions correctly, you are already on the right path.
Enrol in Online Classes
Have you discovered that skill, talent, or interest you have now? Perfect. You need to find a way to hone them now. One of the best ways to do so is to take online classes, attend masterclasses or read books on them. Taking online classes offers you a variety of courses you can apply for and you get to learn at your pace. They are also relatively cheaper.
Join a community
The truth is, you can hardly ever do this on your own. Becoming smarter involves a lot of things and joining a community of smart people not only increases your chances of being smarter, but also helps you get opportunities where you can put your smartness to good use. So you need to go out there, attend events and make friends with like-minded people.
We understand that internship is the new ‘come and work as a professional but I will pay you peanuts’. But if you do not mind the pay, internship is an amazing way to learn how the real world works – professionally. Internship gives you an environment where you get to meet with professionals in your field and learn from them. Internship gives you the opportunity to learn while working and get familiar with basic work etiquettes. You also learn how to negotiate better pay when you start working as a professional. So aside from learning, you are also cashing in and getting financially wiser.
Get a Job Online
In this era of technology, you don’t have to turn to sufferhead in order to learn and earn. One sure way to utilize all that you have learned (while learning more in the process) is to get gigs online. Every skill requires constant practice and the more you work, the more you learn.
Apply for a Fellowship Program
Becoming part of a fellowship program is one that can hoist your career success. It not only gives you an opportunity to meet experts, but it also drills you, makes you go through extensive training and learning for a period of time. Unlike the educational system in Nigeria, a fellowship is mostly practicals.
While it is important to go through a formal school and get good grades, it is also important to try out all (or some) of the alternatives listed here. For instance, interning during long vacations, taking online classes and getting online jobs through your undergraduate years will get you better exposure and make you better prepared for your career life than your peers.
At least, no one will be able to accuse you of being ‘unemployable’.