The fate of the young ones in Nigeria is really unnerving. It is no longer an uncommon sight in our tertiary institutions to see medical students withdrawn from school; engineers repeat courses, lawyers, accountants and all, struggle through the higher institutions of learning. It is no longer an unfamiliar sight to see otherwise talented students who are obviously intelligent, slave it away at what is clearly not their God given vocations. We are all witnesses to how much of art potentials die in our science classes. We have all seen students pursue certain degrees with obvious stress, while some other ones excel with not half as much effort. Students trying hard, and being rated failures by courses of their choosing. It is true that the journey uphill the mountain of success would not be as easy as the downward glide, but then, are all mountains ours to climb?
Life outside of these institutions has not followed a less tortuous trend. Many graduates leave the closed walls of tertiary institutions to face the rude shock of unemployment and underemployment. Employers are bemused at the quality of graduates leaving higher institutions. Employers and Society have blamed it all on the educational institutions. We have also looked for parts of the blames to give the government. Sure the government has become the destination of bastard blames. While elements of truth might be in our allocation of blames, we have overlooked the root causes. No matter how sane the educational institution, no matter how responsible the government, garbage in will always be garbage out. The quality of the input affects the quality of the output. That’s true everyday, and twice on Sundays. No educational system will convert a wall gecko into a crocodile, and not even the best of governments. One of the critical facts is that many of our youths are entering the higher institutions for courses different from their natural inclinations, at variance with their passions and anachronistic with their dreams.
Humble enough to accept that though he studied Engineering or metaphysics, he might never make it in that field, our fresh graduates move like mid day prostitutes from one prospective employer to the next. Every job opportunity is as good as the next -banking, engineering, consulting, or sales. As long as the next offers better than the first. Our average graduates will do anything, and that goes as far as you can think. It’s maddening, but what can we do? It has never been easy to cure a tree by attacking its leaves. The root question, is why?
Yeah, that’s right. There are lots of quotable quotes in this regard. Try some of this for size. “My very best friend wants to study accounting”. “Doctors don’t have to look for Jobs”. “Accountants are the first to be employed and the last to be fired.” “Mama said Engineers are successful people”. “Sciences are for good students, arts for poor students”.” My father wanted 4 children, a doctor, an engineer, an accountant and a lawyer, I am the accountant”. These ageless “wisdom” has over the years distilled into prodding for peer pressure. The tag of success hangs down the collars of a few courses. Those are the cool courses, those are the ones everybody steps over themselves to do. Unfortunately, when supply is more than demand, JAMB and PCE (pass mark for enrollment under the university exam bodies) requirements rise. Wannabe Medical Doctors settle for Botany, Wannabe Lawyers for English and the list continues. The higher institutions are littered with these wannabe’s, for some of them, life could not have dealt them a more fortunate blow, and for some every year lived in school is the dream of a switch. Sadly not to what it should be, but to what it would have been. I shoulda woulda coulda.
When the elderly ones in a house travel, the younger ones quickly grow in experience. –Nigerian Proverb
Our young people are guided into wrong vocations and directions out of selfishness and the aggrandizements that are peculiar to some vocations. It’s a thing of pride to announce in public gatherings, “My son is a doctor, lawyer or engineer.” Rather than guiding our youths aright in the direction of their natural abilities, we have submitted them to the second rated life of pursuing our unfulfilled dreams. We have sacrificed the dreams of their future for our own present selfish desires. The guidance and consistent nudging of parents in career directions have a lot to do with it. Lives have been made and marred by how this awesome privilege has been handled.
Culture and Societal Values
It takes a village to raise a child-Nigerian proverb
Our culture and values are also not to be exonerated from these atrocities. Our extended family setups give us loads of advantages in networking, collaborating and human relations, but deprive us of some vital elements of individuality. Human growth necessitates that a child moves from dependence to independence to interdependence. Interdependence being at the peak of maturity. Our culture and values however have so much stilled the growth of many, such that rarely is the African youth expected to journey beyond dependence. Our culture being so rich in community skills deprive us of individuality. Hardly do people make decisions without consulting the entire village clan. Our youth’s dreams and aspirations are formed by vocations defined as successful by family and ‘successful’ uncles. Another very unhealthy influence linked to this same culture is the concept of money. With so much poverty in around, families are led into believing that the only legacy worth leaving the next generation is a good education in a high paying field. Unlike the western world where the young ones are encouraged in the line of what appeals to them as individuals, financial rewards and prospects secondary, our own youths have one key motivation- escape from poverty.
No sane person sharpens his machete to cut a banana tree-Yoruba proverb
Desperate situations call for desperate measures, simple situations, simple measures.
This is an intro…to be continued. Let me know if you want to read more…Thanks for your time.