Education: The Clear And Present Danger By Emeka Oparah
This morning, I lived through a double paroxysm of sadness and joy, when I read some joyous comments on the young woman and young man who got the Best Results of 2019 WAEC Examination side by side (well, almost side by side) comments on the attached announcement seeking applications from Nigerians who studied in the UK. What a conundrum; what an irony! But hey this is becoming our reality.
Sorry (upfront), let me break your heart: I once asked a Second Upper Graduate of Mass Communication from a Nigerian university to send me his resume. What he sent and how he sent it brought tears to my eyes. First, I had asked his Dad to ask him to send me a message rather he called me-severally! I asked him to send me his CV, after scolding him and counseling him. Guess what he did? He simply went to his email and forwarded an email he sent someone else with his CV attached. I was incendiary.
It’s possible he was upset by my “nonsense counseling” or he didn’t know any better or both. Probably both. But I asked the same of someone who studied in the UK, whose mother similarly sought my assistance to het her girl a job. She sent me a text and a WhatsApp message too, hoping I’d, at least, receive one. I received both.
She basically introduced herself. When she sent her CV, a very nicely written CV, she wrote me an email introducing herself again and recapping our earlier exchange in WhatsApp. I was impressed. While I immediately sent her CV to my contacts, I sent it (without her permission) to the young man I spoke of earlier, urging him to emulate it. He got back to me a week or more after. SMFHV!
See, we have a looming crisis! Our graduates are not employable. Most of them are NOT. As a Mass Communications student, I was publishing articles in the papers. I had a war-chest of them by the time I graduated. I can’t forget my first appearance on The Guardian Op-Ed page neither will I stop talking about my literary review of Esiaba Irobi’s “Hangmen Also Die” in The Guardian on Sunday back in the late 1980s!
But here’s a graduate of Mass Communication with not a single article to his name! Not one!!! One told me she only studied Broadcasting with no experience in News Writing much less Creating Writing and Interpretative Journalism! Even a Broadcaster should be trained and good in writing.
So, tell me why a recruiter or an employer won’t go for someone who studied abroad with basic skills and knowledge, even interpersonal communication skills. It is obvious we have problems with both teaching and learning. In actual fact, the folks who now stay back in school as lecturers and teachers are not the best-as was the case in the years of yore. The best graduates (best in class, not world class) get snapped up by recruiters and employers and then mounded into managers.
There are some 2:1s that make you cry, when you listen to them speak. Many lack basic confidence. Many are here on Facebook insulting Buhari and quarreling with their elders, in halting English! Some will soon inbox me asking for job or openly challenge me to help them. Worse still, some will ask me to forget about job and give them money to travel to Europe to go and hustle. See!
I have said it before and I’ll say it again, Nigeria needs to urgently declare a state of emergency in Education, right from the primary all the way up to the university level. We are dealing with a disaster. The situation is almost hopeless, if not already hopeless.
By the way, some of our skilled workers are accepting jobs and residence in Canada and Australia and leaving in droves. It used to be the US, but with the Donald Trump era stringent immigration policies, they are heading anywhere else they are guaranteed a decent life and security-and opportunities for their kids. Now tell me, how do we replace those being carried away in the brain-drain?
This is time for serious soul-searching and pragmatic, visionary decisions and actions or we will lose everything, especially a solid foundation for future leaders! Do you want to blame McKinsey Lagos Office? I won’t. Why would I? Let’s hope the in-coming Education Minister will know his left from his right-and help salvage the situation.