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NYSC: 5 useful alternatives to compulsory national youth service

NYSC Corps members

If the FG decides to scrap the already-shaky NYSC program, here are 5 other ways that young graduates could serve their country and still be productive.

After decades of welcoming fresh Nigerian graduates, many are finally calling for alternatives to the National Youth Service Corps.

Since its inception in 1973, graduates of Nigerian universities and then polytechnics have been fed into the program, which was supposedly created to involve Nigerian students in the development of the country.

There is no compulsory military conscription or training in Nigeria, so graduates have to serve their country for one year.

But people are already tired. The compulsory program pays a stipend of 19,800 naira monthly, a sum that is barely enough to feed the average person.

 

The three-week-long orientation camp is also one of the most gruelling experiences and there are reports of physical violence, brutality by soldiers.

In some cases, corps members have died from a lack of care and strain or from suffering the small uncertainties that comes come with a new environment.

It’s safe to say the National Youth Service Corps has outlived its usefulness. In case anyone’s listening or reading, here are five workable alternatives to NYSC.

(1) Paid Internship programs:

This should be obvious considering it is what most young Nigerian graduates (who are lucky enough to get jobs end up doing.

One of the main criticisms of the NYSC is that it makes no consideration of an individual’s interests and capacity.

 

A system of paid internships at various government institutions and agencies would serve a greater purpose.

It would provide the graduates with much-needed experience at jobs where they could be of more practical help to the country.

(2) Vocational and Technical Training:

Yes. The trope of vocational and technical training has been used by Nigerian state governors to the extent that it hardly causes any excitement anywhere.

But if done well, it could unlock a new level in Nigeria ‘s local economy.

 

Many, including the government, seem to forget that technical training goes beyond crafts and light engineering work.

We live in a world that is digitally driven and preparing graduates with useful skills relevant to their area of expertise would be a good place to start.

(3) Military Conscription

Wait… wait, hear me out. Military conscription does not translate into fighting in Liberia on a peace-keeping mission.

The compulsory enlistment of graduates into the Nigerian Army would involve a year’s worth of physical and battle training.

ALSO READ: NYSC stops posting corps members to warring communities in Delta

 

The graduates can be treated as volunteers and kept in the reserve, in the unlikely event of war.

While the idea of directing an entire wave of graduates to the armed forces may not seem like such a great idea, the many divisions of the army, navy and airforce would accommodate all fields of study.

In a country where the search for greener pastures is constant, it will also help build a sense of loyalty and identity.

(4) Nothing:

Or we could just let graduates finish university and get into the real world.

 

As altruistic and well-meaning as it may seem, taking one year off for minimum wage is just not worth it for most graduates, especially where job vacancies almost always come with stringent age requirements.

ALSO READ: NYSC to enroll corps members into NHIS

As much as the FG emphasises the benefit of under-exposed communities, the NYSC costs a good amount of money and those resources could be well invested in longer-term solutions.

(5) Government-funded gap years:

What if the federal government packaged the monthly stipends and other costs incurred on each corps member and lent it each graduate for a state-sponsored gap year.

A gap year is one where a newly graduated student takes some time off to pursue other interests and chart a course for the rest of their lives.

 

ALSO READ: Agency partners financial institutions to ecure soft loans for members

Whatever money may be given will probably not be enough for a trip around anywhere of note but it can be used to start small businesses or fund experiences that will help the graduate in the future.

If the money is given as a loan, there is also the certainty of a rotating fund and money to run the initiative.

Faith Obadan Photo

Faith Obadan is a Associate at Meets Media, a digital journalist who reports on Pop Culture and some other section of our website.

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