Re: Foreign training for youth corpers
By Shehu Bello Harris
A newspaper carried in its Editorial, an issue that borders on the training of corps members abroad where a lot of questions were raised. It is on this note that l a.m. compelled to write and enlighten the public on how the foreign training of corps members is done, otherwise l would have taken to the adage that says silence is golden.
However, as l said earlier, it will be appropriate to set the records straight so as to enable the discerning readers understand better. This is not to suggest that we did not pick holes in an Editorial of June 21, 2011 by the Sun Newspapers, titled, “Questions on Foreign Training for Corp Members”
Many questions were raised in the editorial and one would expected a newspaper of Sun’s repute to have sought not only the opinion of the NYSC scheme, but a better understanding of how the training are done now that the much celebrated Freedom of Information Bill has become a law. This would have given the editorial a great deal of objectivity. I assume the paper just wrote based on newspaper reports. Anyway, as l said earlier, l shall address the questions raised in the editorial.
As at its inception in 1973, 2,500 graduates of Nigerian universities were enrolled as the first batch in the National Youth Service Corps Scheme (NYSC). In line with the policy of the scheme, the youths were posted to all the states of the Federation other than their own to be engaged in various activities for one calendar year. During the service year, the youths were engaged in a Community Development Service. The scheme makes available its rich stock of human resources to the its host communities to carry out community projects that have bearing on the people.
Through this programme, many communities have benefitted from establishment of schools, hospitals, equipment as well as other needed projects which, hitherto, were not in existence.
After the service year, corps members were given employment, in fact, some were employed during the service year while others had difficulty making a choice from the numerous job offers they received.
Unlike what obtained in the 70s, you will no doubt agree with me that unemployment in Nigeria is presently ravaging the youth as a result of poor planning on the part of the leadership and the fact that, given the content and curriculum of Nigeria’s education programme graduates are ill-prepared to seek employment outside government or private organisations. Statistics have shown that there are presently over 100,000 youths, graduates of tertiary institutions in search of employment in this country. The over 200,000 corps members called up each service year will join these unfortunate youths. The situation presently is: dwindling job vacancies being chased by an ever ballooning number of applicants, invariably, this trend is envisaged to increase in future with the current proliferation of universities and other degree awarding institutions in the country without a matching provision for job openings.
Piqued by this growing level of unemployment, the present administration of the NYSC, under the leadership of Brig-Gen Tsiga made strenuous efforts to see that, these young men and women, after their service year, will not only be self-employed, but also employers of labour. It is on this premise that the scheme sought collaboration with government and non-government agencies to support its numerous programmes, part of which is youth employment/entrepreneurship programmes.
Having recognised the superlative performance of the corps members in virtually all areas, reputable organisations offered to partner with the scheme in the development and empowerment of its youths while at the same time, improving the lot of the people of the communities where they served.
This collaboration guarantees the intermarriage of both human and material resources to execute commonly defined projects while allowing useful experience to be gained. It will also help the corps members to start up entrepreneurs after their service year. Some of these organisations include the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECE), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), to mention a few.
Some of these trainings for example, include one carried out by Energy Commission of Nigeria in collaboration with the German Government. The idea is to bring about renewable energy through the creation of awareness in the development of alternative source of energy especially in the rural areas.
There is also the War Against Poverty (WAP) programme where corps members are given loans by the Federal Government under the MDGs to eradicate poverty. Corps members are given soft loans to start small scale businesses during their service year. At the completion of their service, their certificates on National Service are kept with the NYSC until they pay back in full. The loan is a revolving one and the amount ranges from N250,000 to N500,000.
It is worthy to note that the NYSC does not handle any of these loans. In fact, the monies do not even pass through the scheme as it is given directly to the beneficiaries. NYSC’s role is the provision of the manpower to benefit from the laudable programmes.
All these developments are a result of deliberate efforts by the NYSC to help the government to curb unemployment on the one hand, and to assist the communities where these corps members are serving through the execution of CDs projects on the other hand without losing sight of its original mandate.
I hope with these explanations, the discerning public will understand how, and where the training of these youth corps members originate from. You will also agree with me that neither the government nor the NYSC scheme is responsible for the provision of the funds to sponsor these corps members abroad.
01 July 2011