By Ajayi Joel
There are different parties of people who hurl complaints and insults when it comes to looking for the people or entities to blame for the cause of massive unemployment in Nigeria.
Most times, the blame goes to the government for not providing enough jobs for the citizens and the communities. Then next, the blame goes to the students for being lazy while in school, unready to learn, and afterwards unemployable. Simply, the graduates are unprepared for jobs.
Now, before I go too far or begin to select where my argument would be focused, I will first establish this which I feel it’s imperative so that you and I will be on the same flow.
Education is the acquisition of a certain knowledge that makes you relevant for society at a certain time.
If any of you agree to this definition of education, then you will have to agree further with me over some few points which are:
- The university is not the only place to acquire education.
- The definition of education has never changed for once; however, the world has changed the prescription of the institution that gives education.
- To a larger extent, the information gotten from the university (which many have construed as the only source of education) has now made many irrelevant in this present time.
- A young boy who sits in a tailor shop for 4 years to learn tailoring and learns it actively is being educated.
- What we call formal education may be learnt outside the four walls of a university.
I would stop on those five points for now. You will notice that I made some emphases that seem like I am bias towards some specific opinions.
Number one emphasis was: I referred education in my points as going to the university. The reason is simple: in the African society, a person who has not attended a university is not necessarily termed as educated which was why I represented education with university.
I have strayed away from the focus of the main point but I need to address this first which is very important before I move on to explain how unemployment is related to education.
From my first point (if my definition of education also holds true), then the university is not the only place to get education. The Igbo boys at Alaba market are also being educated, the Oyo girls learning tailoring are also being educated.
Provided the knowledge gotten makes them relevant in the society, i.e., in the world of work, then we should all agree that education is not gotten only from the university.
My second point states clearly that the definition of education never changed which means it has been this way since time memorial. What actually changed was the institution that gives education. We live in a totally different world from the 19th century when school was the major institution that gave education in some parts of the world.
Back then, if you didn’t go to school, information exited which were capable of making you relevant that you would not be able to get. However, God bless the internet, this information that you couldn’t get except you passed through the four walls of school are flying everywhere on the net.
This means now that it’s so obvious that the institution that gives education has expanded beyond the four walls of the university to other locations and boundaries.
The third point is quite controversial but in order for the argument not to even arise, I will simply refer you to statistics. The point simply stated that to an extent, the information gotten from the university is making a lot of people irrelevant in the society (quite a number).
The reason is not farfetched, lots of the knowledge given do not relate with the requirement of the real world and this is because the real world has advanced and the university curriculum has not. So we can say that those who gent through the university, yet become irrelevant, due to what they learnt, were not educated based on my definition of education.
I will skip the fourth point to move to the fifth. What we call formal education has changed. Prior to the internet age, formal education means being prepared for formal jobs and it has a process.
This same education can be gotten out of the university (limited however), and now we have more formal jobs whose requirements are not placed in the university curricula yet. Matter of fact – the definition of formal jobs has changed which means we have to adjust the definition of formal education.
With these points stated, we can now move to consider how unemployment is related to education. If you have your argument, you can state it and we discuss around it.
If there’s anybody to blame for unemployment in our country, then it shouldn’t be the government first. Yes, you heard me; I said not the government first. I am not saying the government has no blame nonetheless.
I want everyone who is unemployed to sit in this hall with me while I do some explaining before your eyes. I know a lot of you have your fingers pointed at the government but please drop those hands down and listen to me.
I would show you that we have a lot of people to blame for unemployment and not just the government alone. Pick up your phone, call your siblings, tell your parents to read these posts and follow this series or just share this post to save the stress.
Since we all have called education schooling which is obviously not, then I want to face the school system and I tell you, it is a bigger part of the reason why you are here unemployed or even underemployed. Yes, because if you were truly educated, in the real definition of education, there would be fewer people in this hall!
Yes, you are in a hall with me right now and there are millions of other youths outside. Trust me, just focus on what you’re seeing. Education gives you relevant knowledge that equips you for the world of work.
Now the first question to ask you is this: based on what you have up there, where do you see yourself working and how much do you think you deserve to be paid monthly?
Be sincere with yourself and me. Now, how much contribution do you think you would make to that company, or business or industry if you are employed based on what you know currently from what you learnt in school? How many percentage increase would the company experience within a year based on what you know?
Now raise your hand and point your fingers after I ask this question, point it to the direction of blame.
Who is responsible for this knowledge that you have that has made you less qualified for 200,000 naira monthly salary? Oh, is N200k too much for a graduate?
Are you joking right now? Oh, I’m the one day-dreaming, right? Oops, sorry, they have brainwashed you to believe it’s too much, more like a salary to earn after 5 years of working. That’s a big lie.
You already spent 4 of 5 years in the university or college, you should be able to make, okay let’s say, N150k monthly at least after 5 years of proper education. Nigeria is hard but I tell you, when we talk about education in the realest sense, then after 6 – 7 years of acquiring this knowledge, you should be worth more than this.
Now back to the pointing of finger, some of you pointed to your parents, some of you pointed to the lecturers, some of you pointed to yourself and the government.
The person to point those fingers at is the “School System”. You have been in the system as long as you can remember calling your dad; daddy. Now, you’re grown up and after all the decade plus few years you spent going through the system, you are still of low value.
The school system is supposed to be an educational system but based on the knowledge level of those being churned out, you would agree that school is now just school – a place where people gather, anyways.
At this point, is there a need to overhaul the system and make it right? I leave you to answer that. Well, I would answer for everyone in the room. Yes!!
Do parents have a part they play in unemployment? Yes!!
The world has truly advanced from where it was a decade ago. A whole lot has changed about the world of work, its requirements, its operations, etc; yet not so many know.
Remember I have been taking you on the journey on how we can revolutionize education. Like I said in previous posts, we cannot revolutionize education if we skip some major areas. Mind you, the solution doesn’t lie with the government alone.
There are other bodies related and yesterday I explained that the school system is one of the contributors to unemployment in the country.
However, for today, it is necessary you pay attention to how our parents also contribute towards unemployment in the country. Now, the intent of this post is aimed at informing you so that you will take your parents to school which simply means educating them.
You would agree with me that in Africa, our parents hold most of the decisions about our lives and careers. Not all parents though, but a larger percentage do. They give dictations on what a child will study in the university, and most times they have decided the fate all the way from when a child is young.
Just like my 8 years old sister, my mom has already been saying my sister would be a doctor right from when she was a baby. Is the intention good? Yes, very good, but could it be very harmful? It can… I mean really harmful.
A lot of our parents only have their minds revolved around some certain professions as being the definitions of success, and I am sure you all know what those are. Right from childhood, they keep influencing your decisions till you believe you are made for that profession.
The number one issue I have with parents is that they are not observant. African parents do not have the time to observe their children strength and weakness when they are young, and if they even do, how many parents act on what they observe?
So, here’s what happens: your parents do not know that deep within, you really wish to learn software development or even painting, because they do not observe . And then, they convince you to study medicine. Then you begin even plotting exit from medicine even as you got in.
There are many cases of folks who have gotten depressed and committed suicide in school because they do not derive joy in what they’re studying in school. Simply, the point is that a lot of our parents don’t know that the world of work has changed, and expanded, and they are trying to play safe which is at our own expense. Why go to the University for 5 years only to come out not being able to prove anything? How many of them know about the latest skills and courses that are also powering people to success?
Those who know are still skeptical about it. Times without number, I correct my mom anytime she emphasizes that my sister would be a doctor. If my sister chooses to become a writer then support her. Let her spend her time wisely than suffering learning medicine and surgery.
The truth be told: as long as our parents do not know about how the world has changed, the consequences lie on us, because they, in most cases, still make decisions for us. I do not support that motion that they should make decisions for your courses.
It’s high time we take every parent to school to see how the world has changed. The question is, you as a youth, how much do you know about how the world has changed?
You do not know as well. So there’s little or nothing you can do to help your younger siblings from their influence. The point however is that if we want to revolutionize education, then we need to educate parents as well.
All together: fixing the unemployment issue in Nigeria will be fixed by linking all the above elements together.