The Reality Maligned Graduates: What Next

By Ikenga Chronicles May 20, 2020

— Menkiti Onyebuchi Bernie

While more and more people acquire degrees joining the long list of unemployed, under-employed and scarcely employed, the queue is expected to outgrow the grasses at the abandoned National Stadium Surulere Lagos.

And as more statistics prove lack of job opportunities even for the most relevant of courses like Accounting, Engineering, et al; more students get into the university to read courses of less relevance without a post-graduation skill or career plan.

In 2016, an education focused research carried out revealed that more than 95% of graduates from the Department of Linguistics across universities in Nigeria, cannot find the relevance of the course they studied for four years to the demanding opportunities in the real world.

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When the statistical shocker was coined as a question, and then posed the then Minister of Education, he avoided what would have been a dead end for him.

He practically was dazed, faced with the reality of the very essence of a course in an economy with deeply limited opportunities.

He was further asked, where he feels a graduate of Linguistic could work when he or she graduates.

He paused, smiled, and said, ‘anywhere.’

‘They can do anything.’

Anywhere and Anything maybe a new kind of job out there no one knows or talks about, but the reality is that like it is in Linguistics so it is in other reality maligned courses.

Safe to talk about one I know pretty well, a department in the University of Benin.

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A glamorous department, International Studies and Diplomacy; a well worded course name, captivating and very inviting to students.

Many believed that by being students in the department, they were already Diplomats, such was the rave, the fuss, the lust and lost hope.

And so ton of students take turn to rush to the department wallowing in its attractiveness, not minding that some came believing it was an easy course anyways.

The main aim of this course was to equip students with the knowledge of International Politics, and practical diplomatic tools needed to engage in the International space, and then setting them up as worthy employers in International related firms or better still government and non-governmental agencies.

I was part of a class in this department, and of course, being generous not even 1% of the class graduates eventually became employees of any of such relevant space.

Many had high hopes dashed to the reality that the relevance of the course they studied, died in it’s ability to add extra value or the fact that the demand for such course skills isn’t largely needed given the narrow space of job availability in relevant spaces.

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So many became drained and depressed.

And as the year wore on, they slide into what I have labelled a Post Graduate Traumatic Stress Disorder (PGTSD).

Hence, some of my mates became Uber Drivers, Call Center Operatives, Oriflame merchants, selfie sticks sellers, and emergency entrepreneurs.

This isn’t a joke, it is as serious as it is laughable, and as deeper than it seems on the surface.

The students who came behind us from the same department, grappled with the same situation, but were hit even harder by it, because as days go by Nigeria’s job space tightens even more.

Every year the school still very much admit students into same department and others like it; take all they can pay, waste their four years and purge them into the society without building a relevant step between the department and the employers so that it’s best students if not all can have a fair deal at least.

While school fails in this task it claims it molds character as well, there is no guarantee that it molds character.

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The endless policy makers and government officials who throng the system and loot them dry were largely from the same school system.

A visit to the convenience in universities would explain how poorly trained our schools are. The students litter it and care not.

Where then is the character?

Learning and acquiring knowledge we never applied is becoming endemic and for me heretic.

And the break down in character mode of graduates punctures the character claim.

The rise of student ‘yahoo boys’ is an example.

So it is right to say that the university is a ground where students -who years after school continue to find feet in the real world they do not understand- are prepared to go to the world and fail.

For some it takes them between six to nine years to begin to piece their life together, and the longer it stays the harder it becomes getting off PGTSD.

If your are in this shoe still grappling, not knowing exactly where it goes for you, or you are a student who want to get off and avoid the PGTSD after graduation, hit me up in my inbox.

I have news for you. Your hope maybe in ‘anywhere and anything’.

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