The saying “Education is scam” is gaining wide recognition, and becoming a subject of concern among Nigerian youth, educators, parents and other stakeholders as the concurrent challenge of graduate and youth unemployment is on the high side for the Nation. The Youth NEET rate of 28% in 2019 and 42.5% unemployment rate among young people in the last quarter of 2020 thus provides a critical rethink of the growing slogan or the obvious reality of our educational outlook. Trending in the National News and Social Media platform is the return of a Bachelor’s Degree Certificate to Alma mater after several years of not being able to utilize the degree for meaningful impact outside the wall of the University coupled with joblessness, poverty, and other negatives social-economic occurrences predominate in the country.
Is education the problem? Or our continuous choices of educational system? The way forward or the dangers ahead?
Every failure or limitation in the economy must first be attributed to governmental failure, simply because they are authorized in ensuring that every system of the economy works and works well, directly or indirectly but when failure persists in any area of the nation, it is a clear sign of governmental woes. In such a time like this, the Nigeria government is baptized with a high spirit of corruption, selfishness, stealing, and many more bad deeds blocking out the possibility for national transformation and innovation with abundant natural endowment and human capital. Education will always be one of the greatest privileges a man can have access to in Life. It unlocks your mind, births a new reasoning capacity for you, brings innovation, transformation, and medicines for the good of humanity, and can in no way be humanity’s problem except for a few uses of its ability.
What then is the problem? Seeing more educated Nigerian youth (graduates of tertiary institutions) continue to be diagnosed with increasing youth unemployment.
Our constant choice for more of a general educational system will continue to put the nation in the danger zone of unemployment, poverty, and other negative social economic effect, simply because general education focuses more on theoretical learning and less practicality without a priority on current industrial skills demand and practice, hence graduate transition from school to the labor market becomes difficult or impossible and many years of academic learning become unusable outside the walls of the University. The choices of many youths, parents, and the society at large for general education which is simply regular secondary schools and the University system in acquiring paper qualifications are the resultant effects of barren in technical skills, occupational skills and knowledge required to secure paid employment or become self-reliant in the 21st-century economy.
Nigerian employers often complain that graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions are unemployable owing to the limitations of the general educational system at all levels. In Nigeria, 89.5% of youths had formal education, while 67.9% of the youth had secondary education as their highest level of education and 16.8% of the youth had a postsecondary education where priority on the courses of studies are Social Sciences and Managerial courses. 31.2% and 24.9 % of youth are either studying or graduated in Social Sciences courses and Management Science courses, supporting the possibility of increased youth unemployment due to emphasis on general educational systems compare to youth either studying or graduated in Medicine 1.5%, Agriculture and Agriculture related courses 4.3% and Environment 2.1.
Since little attention is being paid to the increasing danger of Not in Employment, Education, or Training (NEET) of youth in Nigeria, Youth, Graduates, Parents, Government, and other stakeholders might as well not see what is ahead of us, as a Nation with a massive population increase. Now than ever before, we must emphasize and prioritize the necessity for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform in Nigeria as the perfect way to tackle Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) encountered by many Youth.
“Youth can acquire the skills needed to enter the workforce, including those for self-employment, through TVET. TVET can also boost productivity and pay levels, as well as respond to shifting skill demands by communities and businesses. TVET can lower barriers to entry into the workforce, for instance, by promoting work-based learning and ensuring that acquired skills are acknowledged and accredited. For low-skilled individuals who are under- or unemployed, out-of-school youth, and people not in education, employment, or training (NEETs), TVET can also provide an opportunity for skill improvement.”
Different appeals, calls, and intervention plans for TVET reform in Nigeria had witnessed noticeable policy and implementation failure in the hands of the government, and biased viewpoints by youth, parents, educators, employers, and the society at large. With this unaddressed, Nigeria will continue to be the breeding ground of youth unemployment, poverty, and indescribable negative socio-economic occurrences, as increased unemployment is the mother of many evils in society today.
“The general public considers TVET students to be less intelligent or less deserving of attending a traditional secondary school. TVET students are stigmatized as academic failures and non-progressives because they attend these institutions. Due to TVET schools’ negative reputation, parents in Nigeria only send their kids there as a last resort. The majority of parents prefer that their kids attend traditional secondary schools. One of the main restrictions on TVET in Nigeria is the limited provision of learning and teaching materials in technical and vocational schools. Due to their low pay and low social expectations, TVET teachers are the least valued in the teaching profession.”
We are in a time, Youth, Parents, Educators, Government, and Other stakeholders must reconsider our choices from general education to Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform in Nigeria as the perfect way to tackle Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) encountered by many youth in Nigeria. Without creating highly trained technical manpower and obtaining technology capabilities, Nigeria cannot compete effectively in the knowledge-driven global economy of the 21st century. Technical manpower and Technological capability are attainable in Nigeria, if Youth, Parents, Educators, Government, and Other stakeholders must choices to give more priority to Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform in Nigeria as the perfect way to tackle Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) than the general educational system.
Ahmed Olajuwon writes from Lagos, Nigeria.