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Young and Minority Leaders

National Youth Service Scheme: Incorporating Ube Into National Unity

owomero stanley asked:

INTRODUCTION

When general Yakubu Gowon established the NYSC by the decree 24 of May 1973, its primary aim was to promote the ideals of national unity and a sense of common destiny among Nigeria and eliminate mental suspicion and mistrust that has been engendered by the civil war, however it is high time the scheme had a face-lift, if not a new face in its entirety, with calls from different quotas on the president or who ever is in charge to to evaluate/audit the scheme, the president  has promised an overhauling of the scheme, in my own opinion I think the overhauling should be that which will involve the real  stakeholders in the business of NYSC, that will involve corp members, both serving and past, parents, educationist and community leaders, traditional rullers and employers of labour. In this meeting the NYSC’s objective should be examined critically and rephrased. Wordy of mention is the set and existing objectives which are

promote unity and national integration

raise the moral tone of the youths by exposing them to higher ideals of national building

promote even national economic development/mobility of labour into less developed areas

encourage employers to employ Nigerians irrespective of their background or ethnic group

having considered all this it will be of great benefit, if we examine how the scheme has performed/fared since its establishment.

 

NYSC IN RELATION TO NATIONAL SERVICE IN OTHER COUNTRIES

Nigeria – Service of one year in the National Youth Service Corps is compulsory for all university and polytechnic graduates below the age of 30, with exemptions for service in the armed forces, police and graduation with honors. 85,000 were enlisted in 1998/99. The program was founded in 1973 following the civil war to promote inter-ethnic group understanding by serving outside their home states and to contribute to the country’s development. 70% of corps members serve in schools; health clinics and other projects absorb the balance. One day each week all corps members are expected to participate in community service projects that are designed by the local communities where they serve.

Looking at the scheme in Nigeria, let’s consider what it looks like in other countries first are those in which it is mandatory for youth with certain qualities will participate, then those that require voluntary participation.

Programs in which certain categories of young people are required to participate:

 

Israel – A nearly universal military National service exists, and has been an important social welfare institution as well as defence force since the country was established (exemptions for ultra-orthodox Jews and for Israeli Arabs and religious women who serve in alternative service programs). Men serve for three years; women for two years. Government will establish a pilot for a non-military national service program for any Israeli who is exempted from military service for any reason (May2000) to address inequities in who serves in the IDF, e.g., Arab-Israelis are 20% of population. National service opportunities also exist through the Kibbutz movement and several Israeli Youth  movements, although participation in these programs does not replace military service. Current military force averages 500,000 out of total population of 6 m.

 

Mexico – All university students must participate in the University Servicie Social program in the last third of their academic programs to receive their degrees. This program was established by law in 1944 to apply the resources of universities to the National goal of eliminating poverty. All medically trained professionals must serve in disadvantaged communities for one year before they can be licensed. In 1996 conscripts were given the option of either serving in the army or in one of three national service programs involving adult literacy, social work and sports promotion. NGOs and

government youth organisations also organise youth service projects. youth defined as 12-24 years old, 28% of population of 98.1 m. Second national youth Development Conference Our Future Now – empowering young people through youth development Workshop Stream International Perspectives

 

Egypt – A national service program exists for young female secondary school graduates to serve as the military equivalent of military service for young men. In principle, women must fulfill their nationa service before they can be employed in the public sector. Women serve for six months, typically in a literacy center as part of the government’s literacy campaign. Non-governmental organisations such as Scouts and Guides and NGO-run programs in urban and rural areas involve youth in community service.

 

Programs in which participation is voluntary:

 

China – Chinese Young Volunteers Program sponsored and largely funded by Communist youth League; established in 1994; operated through a national network of provincial and local associations; 72.4 m participants in CYVP (460 m 14-35 year olds, 38% of total population); typical participant is a 19-25 year old student or worker who volunteers once a month for several hours during weekends and holidays (youth survey revealed that majority believe 80 hrs/year is right amount of time; survey also reveals that youth think the main beneficiaries should be handicapped people and lonely elders); CYVP is able to mobilise large numbers of participants for events such as Beijing Women’s conference, national games or rescue and disaster relief; highest motivation factors are helping others; lowest were to gain power and prestige and to respond to the call from government

 

USA – Government supports multiple youth service programs through the Corporation for national Service: service learning in schools and higher education institutions involving several million students; programs run by community-based organisations; and full and part-time service corps (AmeriCorps) for 50,000 people each year who are 17 or older. The annual Congressional appropriation has averaged $600m for the past 3 years. CNS also supports 500,000 senior citizens in service projects. Authority for running projects is largely devolved to states, and delivered through grants to public and non-profit organisations. Projects are focused on efforts to address education, environmental, public safety and a wide range of human service needs. In addition to programs supported by CNS, many non-profit organisations organise youth service programs.

 

UK – Government provides overall policy regarding the voluntary sector, including youth  service; funding for youth service programs is provided through several government departments (Homeb Office, DfEE, and DCMMS); DfEE has responsibility for two government-sponsored programs – Millenium Volunteers (MV)(1998) and European Voluntary Service. Voluntary sector agencies, which pre-date recent government initiative in youth service, deliver programs within the framework set out by government and in partnership with government. MV participants serve a minimum of 100hours. Size at full operation is projected to be 150,000 participants/year in England and smaller numbers in other home countries. DfEE has also introduced a new school curriculum, which will require citizenship education for all children over age 11 by 2001. Funds from the national Lottery support the Millenium Awards Scheme, which supports individual social entrepreneurs through a competitive process. Private sector suppor
t for youth service is significant.

 

Kenya – The national you
th Service is a voluntary program for 2000 unemployed high school graduates each year, ages 18 – 22, who serve for 2-3 years on projects that address national development needs and contribute to the personal and professional development of the participants. (In the current year there were no new participants due to lack of funds.) Non-governmental youth service programs also exist such as Kenyan Scouts and several that target youth in vulnerable areas such as rural communities and urban slums.

 

South Africa – A white paper calling for the establishment of a voluntary national youth service(NYS) was developed by the national youth Commission in 1999 and sent to Cabinet for approval. If approved the NYS will develop programs to engage unemployed youth, university and technik on students, and youth involved with the criminal justice system. Five pilot projects will be launched in

Second national youth Development Conference Our Future Now – empowering young people through youth development Workshop Stream International Perspectives

2000 and provide the foundation for expansion to a national program. Government policy and funding incentives have created pressure for higher education institutions to respond to community development needs by engaging students and faculty with the work of NGOs and CBOs. In 1998 government required all medical school graduates to spend a compulsory year serving in disadvantaged communities. In 1995 the unemployment figure for young men and women was 23%, not including students. 16.2 m youth 14-35, 39% of total population

 

Costa Rica – The government requires all medically trained professionals to serve one year in the Servicio Social program serving disadvantaged populations in urban and rural areas. A newly implemented government policy requires community service programs in all high schools, although there is no requirement that the service must be related to the curriculum. The University of Costa Rica requires all students to perform community service work in relation to their academic studies. Several NGOs are developing community-based service programs with disadvantaged youth.

 

UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION SCHEME

Summary of the act for UBE

As contained in the official Reference of the Federal Republic of Nigeria  Gazette (2004), the act provides for compulsory universal basic education and stipulates penalties for parents who fail to comply with the provision. On the issue of relevance of the school curriculum to the society Ehindero (2000) Adesina (2000) have raised doubts as it has been observed that there is a growing rate of poverty which is an indicator of problems in the system. It was therefore suggested that it should be so structured that each individual will be equipped to perform some six life roles e.g. role as an individual, as a producer, citizen, national consumer and as a family member. As far as the provision of human and material resources are concerned, Adebimpe (2001) opined that for the UBEto succeed, adequate provision should be made to produce sufficient qualified teachers and make them relevant within the limit of their area of specialization. Salaries need to be paid as at when due because it serves as a motivation factor towards productivity.

 

INCORPORATING UBE INTO THE NYSC SCHEME

What is UBE

First it will be of great import to examine what UBE stands for, its objectives and general framework, the fundamental principle of UBE in Nigeria is that everybody must have access to equivalent education comprehensively and co-educationally. The concept of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) introduced in 1976. (6 years education) was to change into Basic education (9 years education) twenty three years later. Basic education is not completely new but its meaning has been broadened after the World

Declaration on Education for All (EFA),and the Framework for Action to meet Basic learning needs.  President Olusegun Obasanjo formally launched the UBE in Nigeria on 30th September, 1999. The programme is intended to be universal, free, and compulsory. Since the introduction of western education in 1842 (Eya, 2000), regions, states, and federal governments in Nigeria have shown a keen interest in education. The goal of all these programmes is providing functional, universal, and quality education for all Nigerians irrespective of age, sex, race, religion, occupation, or location.

UBE is broader than UPE, which focused only on providing educational opportunities to primary school age children. UBE stresses the inclusion of girls and women and a number of underserved groups: the poor, street and working children, rural and remote populations, nomads, migrant workers, indigenous peoples, minorities, refugees, and the disabled. The formal educational system is only one of six components included in basic education in the implementation guidelines of the Federal Government. Others relate to early childhood, literacy and life skills for adults, nomadic population, and non-formal education or apprenticeship training for youth outside the formal education system (Nigeria 2000).

Education has remained a social process in capacity building and maintenance of society for decades. It is a weapon for acquiring skills, relevant knowledge and habits for surviving in the changing world. Invariably, the major problem identified in the Nigerian UBE system lies in the automatic promotion, that is, 100% promotion and  transition for 9years. This indeed is a mockery of any form of evaluation done at this level and is bound to reflect on the standard of education in no distant future  Goals of UBE The objectives of the programme as specified in the implementation guideline by

government in 1999 are as follows:

Developing in the entire citizenry, a strong conscientiousness for education and a strong commitment to its vigorous promotion

Provision of free Universal Basic Education for every Nigerian child of school going age

Reducing drastically the incidence of drop out from the formal school system

Catering for young persons, their schooling as well as other out of school children or adolescent through appropriate form of complementary approaches to the provision of UBE

– Ensuring the acquisition of appropriate levels of literacy, numeracy, manipulative communicative and life skills as well as the ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying a solid foundation for the life long living.

Going by the research published by ADenola Adepoju  and Anne Fabiyi  the Problem is the universal access to education has been prime target for Nigeria in the last four decades and Nigeria is a signatory of World Declarations on  education for All. Igwe (2006) reported that the United Nations Organization (UNO), article 26 on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in part that everyone has the right to  education, and this shall be free in elementary and primary stages. So, both at the national and international levels, Nigeria is committed to the provision of basic education to all its citizens. Many attempts have been made in this direction but no appreciable positive results have been recorded. The problem of implementation continues to be a perennial problem to the fulfilment of a constitutional and social obligation to make access possible to all.   They also concluded in there research that   The cost of education has been reported to be on the increase yearly and in spite of increase in budgetary allocation for implementation of educational policies, the funds are still not adequate. In order to support government the new policy advocated for shar
ing the burden of funding with other stakeholders. The local community is expected to be mobil
ized to provide for needed infrastructure. In this research, principals/managers of schools assessed the community’s level of involvement to be very low. The lack of commitment and general apathy towards the course of a successful implementation of the UBE has been a problem. A survey research conducted by Ker and Okwori revealed that the participation of individuals, private and the three tiers of government was found to be the best option for funding and managing UBE schools.  Massive provision of teaching and learning facilities and improvement of existing ones will enhance programme implementation. The use of other facilities that enhance communication and productivity is also a mark of good performance. Falayajo, Makoju, Gladys, Okebukola, Onugha and Olubade (1997) had assessed the learning achievement of primary four pupils in Nigeria and discovered that this has not improved. Almost ten years after their research, this research also reveals that teachers, performance is rated as low, as their students achievements.  The principals observed that the use of computers is only limited to computer awareness and literacy to a large extent. Computer use for application was not emphasized. The use of computers should not be limited to teaching and learning but for school administration. Askar et al (2006) noted that computers in Turkish primary schools have become widely used in administrative work and that in fact, information technology has entered the life of teachers. Government policy on enforcing attendance at the UB programme has not been implemented as majority of parents are still involved in keeping their children and wards behind.  This research reveals that only a small group (17.8%) of respondents agreed that government was taking care of all their school needs whereas majority (82.2%) claim that their parents were largely involved in funding their school expenses. Adesina (2004) noted that private establishments, communities and individual parents must be called upon to fund UBE He cautioned that it was wrong and misleading propaganda that education can be obtained absolutely free as the actual experience on the field has shown that such propaganda is more of a political gimmick than a statement of good intention.  It was observed that the greater the stake in any venture, the greater the interest and commitment of the stake holders in that venture. An enabling law to compel parents to leave no child behind should be enforced. Other practical steps that could be taken to move UBE forward in Nigeria is to give national recognition to individual private organization and local communities who have contributed by way of commitment and financial backing to the ideals of the programme.

 

THE NEED FOR INTEGRATING NYSC INTO UBE

I think the primary purpose for setting up the NYSC scheme has been achieved long ago except we want to shy away from the truth, Nigerian now are united more than ever any crisis that is on now is not as a result of ethnic neither is it as a result of religious purpose, but its just a selfish nature of our politicians who are supposed to be the leaders, this is own to the fact that Nigerian youth even pick up employment, marry and even settle-down in there state of deployment during NYSC, even we now have NYSC club and an Alumni congregation has been instituted,

Even it was stated in (nigerianouline.com) that NYSC has it’s multiplier effect which are

The achievements of the scheme which are both tangible and intangible, are many, and they touch all known spheres of human endeavour. The scheme has over the years allowed for the regular and effective distribution of skilled manpower, the steady breaking of social and cultural barriers as well as the building of friendly bridges across the nation.

It has also promoted higher values of national unity and development, rekindled interest in neglected but vital areas of national development like agriculture, and promoted leadership qualities in our youths. In these and other ways, the scheme constantly pricks the conscience of the nation to the right course of development, thereby keeping the hope alive for a better Nigeria.

The regular invita tion of members of the Corps to participate in the conduct of such sensitive national assignments as Population Census, Elections, etc. and to provide material for the Technical Aid Corps (TAC), is not only an expression of faith in the ability of the scheme, but also an appreciation of its monumental achievements since its inception in 1973. The positive multiplier effects of these achievements on society are worthy of further examination, taking, for instance, the deployemnt of corps members.

From its humble beginning of about 2,000 corps members in 1973, it has rapidly grown to the staggering annual figure of 85,000 corps members in 1999. This phenomenal growth, apart from ensuring that the presence of the scheme is felt in all nooks and crannies of the Federation, also allows for the even distribution of manpower in the best interest of the country.

this shows the extent of its success but the problem of NYSC has to do with the implementation and management of the scheme, the following has been observed

under funding of the scheme by relevant bodies

welfare of corpers are not taking into consideration

corp’s member are just undergoing the scheme for selfish reasons (DISPATCH letter)

that there has been irregularities in the posting pattern of corp member especially PPA

corpers end up doing nothing because they are not been utilize in there field of studies.

The problem elisted above are a function of the refusal of the federal government to oblirge to the call of Nigerians to revitalize or evaluate the scheme for a greater height, first the aspect of funding the scheme is under unded this led to it having problem in the mobilization of 2007/2008 batch B corp members, although the federal Government under the leadership of president umaru yar’adua waded in and it was able to mobilize  graduates that are ready to serve that year. Because Nigerian universities and polytechnics turns out over 100,000 graduates ona yearly basis, and as we all know that the Scheme started with just about 2,000 graduates, this means that the scheme has grown fromits former state, it population expanded , its ideal broadened and the need for its objectives to be strengthen can not be over emphasized.

The aspect of welfare of corp member is of great concern too, but welfarism is a function of funding, for an institution not to be well funded I wonder how it will be able to carry-out the task of welfare of corp members, corp, member has frowned about the monthly allowance being paid them, because to you relocate a corp member from Mshin in Lagos to Meiduguri in Borno state theb you can imagine a graduate trying yo cope with 9,750 naira, “although it is still part of the training” the say, as for myself I was relocated from Bariga, in Lagos to Machina, in Yobe State. With no other benefits except that of the federal allowance, I think part of the overhauling that needs to be carried out should incorporated the upward review of corp’s members allowance.

As for the selfishness of corp member , just undergoing the Scheme in other for them to get their dispatch certificate for job purposes should be changed in other words, these NYSC scheme should be seen as giving back a little to what your country has done for you, because it seems as if it is just a ritual that all graduate must observe and so we all go/went for it, don’t forget this notion that “ do not think of what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”, because truly truly if we look at it people will say that in Nigeria you are on your own, there is little or no Government impact on the life of its citizen and as such what are you serving the n
ation for, this notion should be corrected government or no government, it is important to serve
your nation and the government and the institution should embark on massive campaign against that notion because it is causing damage to the scheme because corp’s member do not put in there best because of this reason.

The most important of all is the aspect of irregularities inposting of corp members to there various state and most importantly there respective local government, some corp members are posted to the urban centres whole others are posted to the rural areas, of all the cardinal objectives of the NYSC which are as listed in (Nigeria.com)

Elimination of ignorance

Regular source of income

Leadership traing

National consciousness

Socio-economic development

Education

Health

Rural development

The  rural development is of great importance and it deserve to be giving great attention because they are the once that need the Corp members the most owing to the fact that the concept of rural urban migration is a function of the uneven distribution of Socal infrastructure, such as education, road , electricity etc. now the corp members are ready made tools that could be used to bridge the Gap because they bring modernization to these areas a vivid example is that community tends to provide good housing units for corp members, electricity and even telecommunication network , I now of Fika Camp in Yobe state, whereby Celtel, MTN, and Glo Mobile Network came to be as a result of the site of the orientation camp in that village, and also corpers establish restaurant, bring in different electronic gadget and other modern facilities to mention a few to that area. Consequently, majority of the rural people have been poor and starved of social

amenities and they will need to be trained if these facilities are to be provided to the community, example of Machina local government where very few of the indigene are computer literate and can even use the internet not until corpers are posted to those areas and they started using all these facilities and involve the community in a training program before they could be able to use the computers. This program was taken by myself in the area of community development services not just for the villagers but also for corp members, it was also gathered from (Nigeria.com) that while all these have the effect of enhancing socio-economic and political activities, the scheme’s venture into agriculture since 1984 deserves special notice. It should be recalled that by this time, agriculture had already become a very neglected area of our national life. Consequently, a food crisis was imminent and it was mainly to avert it that the scheme found it necessary to go into  farming, and it paid off. Soon after its agricultural venture, more attention began to be paid to this sub sector with all the seriousness it deserves.  

So if all corp members are posted to the interior parts of the country to serve then this development of the rural area that we all long for will be achieved.

On the aspect of the underutilization and/or non-utilization of corp members has been a lingering problem, in establishment corp members are not been utilized properly and are turned to those that can be used as clerical staffs, in the place where that services are needed they are overstressed and overworked with little pay, because they regard them are cheap labour, and they are not entrusted with real duties.

In other part corps members are assigned task that have nothing to do with there training and are regarded as redundant fellows because they have little or nothing to do in such department, this amounting to corpers not acquiring any experience during there service tear regarding it as a share waste of time and as such not contributing to national development.

Also of importance is the special preference giving to medical doctors in terms there accommodation , special allowances and so on, while others such as engineers, lawyers, accountant are treated as ordinary, this on its own brings to bear the fact that there is an uneven appreciation of corps members services in a community.

 

NYSC OBJECTIVES AS REGARDS UBE AND OTHERS SHOULD BE

Transformation of Education Strengthening Civil Society and Social Responsibility

Productivity and Development of Youth Participant Economic Development, Social Development and Poverty Elimination

Cultural and Political Integration

The mode of posting and utilization of corp members should be

all prospective corp member should be posted to the rural area,

 People will say what about areas like Lagos where everywhere has been urbanize, I tell them too that areas like Igbogbo, Imota, Ibeche, Obadore and others in Epe needs corp members to serve in the community. If all corp members know that there colleague is also in a rural area serving then he/she knows that we are in it together, and the need to be sober when you receive your posting letter will not arise, it will also reduce corruption in NYSC, because people with connection to people in high places do find there way to major city in Nigeria.

2. since the UBE is facing a lot of problem in terms of manpower and other infrastructure then all corpers should be made to teach in schools except doctors which will be posted to hospitals in the rural areas, I believe if doctors are posted to the rural areas they will also bring development in terms of medical facilities to that area by them demanding from the relevant authority, instead of posting them to local government secretariat where they will be doing nothing. Every Nigerian graduate should be able to teach in secondary school and when the need arises primary school.

By this the aim of NYSC in to forestall National unity, cultural accumulation, social development, political integration and basic education will be achieved. Because the rural area will be a great beneficiary of the Scheme. Prior to UBE, curricula were rigid and inflexible, focusing on formal education at the expense of technical, vocational and pre-vocational skills. Technical equipment was imported and distributed to secondary schools to facilitate training in technology, but few technicians were available to operate it. In some cases, communities were unable to provide an environment that was conducive to achieving proficiency in operating the machines. Specifically, the curriculum was faced with problems such as

:• inflexibility;

• non-availability of funds for the Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) to review education on a regular basis;

• limited capacity-building for curriculum experts;

• inability to respond to the need of the immediate environment.

In this regard corp’s member can  fill-in  in this regards and handle those equipment better, because of there vast experience and exposure in these areas.

 

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