THE JOURNEY UNKNOWN; INTO THE WORLD OF NYSC AND THE UNCONSCIOUS YESTERYEARS
In a country like ours, after the completion of an higher institution usually accompanied by so many years of hectic and unending worries and memories then there lies NYSC, a scheme many believe to have over stayed its welcome, a scheme others say should continue, which ever you chose to believe should be a personal decision, perhaps depending on your individual encounter on the journey.
To a great majority, it is a scheme that deprives the average Nigerian the opportunity to progress in whatever discipline he/she aspired except for some few. The scheme whose major aim is to distribute well meaning individuals usually called corp members into “the interior of the interiors”, does not in most cases consider the individual differences of these persons who for one reason or the other may not fit into the lifestyle of the host community.
Though, the scheme to some might be flexible in terms of relocation of some corp members based on health, marital status or other concessional reasons. For these, some invent illness or health situations alien to them all in the bid of not wanting to stay in the environment they find themselves. Life been the way it is, some get lucky and get reposted, others unlucky and as such must settle to strike a balance with reality. Hence the need to survive in a rather unusual scenario.
Then comes the next issue, the host community. They are expected to be welcoming and accommodating, but in most cases that appears to be in fantasy island. The corp member is welcomed to another world of its own. The world of NYSC barricaded by her rules and regulations. A free, yet restricted individual is thus conceived. The race for surviver begins.
In most cases, the host community do not really understand the corp member’s plight and challenges in the course of his stay, they see it as service to humanity towards the betterment of mankind. Newly posted corp members usually referred to as “Otondos,” are usually confronted with many challenges.
He goes to the market based in the ideas and lectures from the orientation camp in his full kit khaki uniform or Ajuwayah as it is fondly called 7 OVER 7 only to be approached by the realities of life in the uniform. He realizes that the the prices of commodities all of a sudden sky rockets, this he is yet to learn from his Senior Corper, a retired and delivered Otondo.
To the host community particularly the interior areas, they believe the take home pay of a corp member is something to boast about. However, considering the high cost of education in the country, it suffice to say that the take home pay of an average youth corp member does not commensurate with the expected service he is expected to offer.
Then comes the issue of the place of primary assignment, though corp members are usually advised to maintain a high level of discipline and composure, but what goes to the employers as they are called. Most of these employers in the rural areas do not even possess a certificate not to talk of an equivalent quality to host a graduate, thus, a situation of an S.S 3 student marking the examination script of a post graduate student, “a total disaster.”
Rather than been grateful to the scheme for supplying a corp member, they see that as an avenue to form “bosses to a graduate.” However, being a graduate, he is able to meticulously adapt to the ever changing situations despite all odds. The question that needs answers need be asked; “Must all graduates excluding some selected professions be posted to schools?”
The scheme though trying to cater for education in the rural areas fail to answer the question of standardization in the educational sector. Some use the avenue of the scheme to run a school system, once they apply to the scheme, they send corp members, nobody cares whether it is an approved or standardized school, corp members are simply posted. Little wonder the standards of education in the country is fast dwindling. “Those we trust have failed us” a great line from the award winning musician Asa in Situation
The western and developed countries of the world believes in education as a tool for advancement and improvement. Adequate care and priority usually accompanied by monitoring is devoted to the educational sector, but here the story holds no water. Education, particularly the school setting is seen as an avenue for money making and not advancement. No wonder students in such schools will without apologies offer comments like; “I do not offer Mathematics,” a big fall out from the norm.
A wake up call for the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), the Teachers Registration Council (TRC) and others concerned to see the need for drastic and productive steps to rescue the countries education sector from the oceans of sinking waters. Perhaps, a model of the health sector needs be exemplified, replicated and actualized, to avert a situation of square pegs in round holes, that will rather cause more harm than good as it is the case with NYSC.
As a practice, the scheme will never send teachers to the hospitals, neither will it send musicians to the chambers, but will rather send an electrician or a botanist to a school. Then, why is there a need for the teacher training colleges, colleges of education and universities of education. The scheme in defense would erroneously say an Act student should be able to teach English Language and a graduate of sciences could teach Mathematics as contained in the handbook for corp members in schools.
Thus, let all concerned wake from slumber and actualize intended goals and objectives for the nation’s advancement and improvement, not fast track the country into years of yesteryears.