The Minister for Youth Development in Nigeria, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi has come again. It seems for the Nigerian corper, one week one trouble is the recurring theme. The government has not effectively addressed how corpers can go to the toilet without having to squat over a hole in the ground. Yet, our Minister for Youth Development has come up with a new plan to completely re-design the NYSC scheme. If he is successful, from next year NYSC will 'post corpers to rural areas only with no provision for redeployment.' Mind you, Mr Abdullahi of course is very sympathetic to the plight of the youths. In his own words, 'Corpers would no longer be posted to banks and other organizations where they are always being rejected.' They will now be posted to villages where their main concern will be 'agriculture, rural health, infra structure and education.' Mr Abdullahi's idea it seems is to turn our graduates into farmers using primitive instruments because I for one, have never seen a tractor in my village.
This talk of reform got me thinking of a conversation I had with my cousin last year about the NYSC. He currently lives and works in America and I asked him when he was going back to serve. Never, he said. He felt the system was useless as it failed to provide students with meaningful work experience. He then continued to detail the direction he wished to see NYSC reforms going in. With a little editing (cutting out the bad bb speak), I'm just going to cut and paste that conversation here. Let me know what you think.
E: NYSC should be incorporated into the university system. That is where it will be beneficial.
Me: Ehen go on. Explain.
E: It is a form of internship (since the job is not guaranteed)
Me: So when should you do it. Over summer or something?
E: It would be beneficial to incorporate it to a student's major so they can get a taste of what they would be doing when they graduate. Over summer for their third and final year.
Me: So twice. Some universities here do a year out type of thing.
E: We have it here, it is not mandatory but people get it in their third year and intern the whole semester. It also counts as college credit. And you get paid as well.
Me: By who, the job or the university?
E: The job.
Me: But university is already so long in Naija what with strikes etc. Some people just want to graduate sam.
E: The job pays them, the student pays the school and gets credit towards the degree.
Me: Ah I see. If it was added to your degree, you wouldn't have to spend an extra year. Then the options could be: do NYSC for a year as credit for university or graduate and do it, thus spending five years.
E: Well it could be mandated.
Me: That's not fair. In America etc its by choice isn't it. Too much by force tings for Naija.
E: It is, but we don't have NYSC. So if you have to mandate something, mandate it when folks can actually apply what they are learning.
Me: It's not a bad idea. And that way people can actually get relevant work experience because sometimes, you are posted to things you don't have a background in.
E: Exactly. You graduate with a 'CV'
Me: That can be the tagline. 'Graduate with a CV.' But wait! What about the foreign graduates. They must suffer too.
E: Why does it have to be considered suffering? The camps are a waste of time. It is another avenue for politicians to chop. It is not needed.
Me: This is true. But that community development part should be there. It's important. How will foreign students get that?
E: How many people utilise the community development?
Me: You'd be surprised. People in rural areas don't have much choice really. It's the people posted to Lagos etc that skive.
E: The money that would be spent on the upkeep of NYSC should be allocated to specific individuals to perform these tasks.
Me: I don't get.
E: It will create more jobs sef. What does community development entail?
Me: One day a week you do CD and the remaining days are for your job/work experience. So for example, M[another cousin] was posted to work in a school and she was an SS2 English teacher in a state school for a year. Also, another thing about NYSC is its supposed to create national unity.
E: Chibundu you have more sense than this nah. What is supposed to happen and what actually happen are totally different. The sad part is that the actual vision of NYSC has been lost and now we hear all the ills that are going on in these camps.
Me: No but people still get posted all over Nigeria. A new scheme has to incorporate the ideals of the old. Maybe your work experience must be found in a state you don't live in and you can then do community development one day a week during your stay in that state.
That's how far we got before the conversation petered out and moved on to more trivial things. But what do you think about my cousin's 'Graduate with a CV' idea? I think it's excellent. There are still some holes. How does one incorporate foreign graduates into such a system for example? But for the bulk of students who take part in this scheme and are Nigerian graduates, I think such a plan would be a massive improvement. What say ye?