In Nigeria, millions of graduates are roaming the streets in search of jobs on a daily basis. Unfortunately recent happenings have shown that poverty and unemployment are driving many into crime. REGINA OTOKPA takes a dip into the growing advocacy by parents and School Based Management Committees (SBMC) to expose children to entrepreneurial skills from a tender age.
8 year old Bryan Chiazor loves to get busy with his hands. Every minute he is calculating the next step to take in order to create something unique and how to attract more patronage to his products. With his 10 year old elder brother George, every piece of fabric no matter how small is useful.
From the making of wristbands, they graduated into producing bags, beads, purse and presently, they are learning how to make children wears. George who is gifted in graphics, has drawn more clients to his parents cloth line business with his unique designs more than they could have ever imagined.
Bryan is in primary four and George J.SS 1 but these young brothers already have an entrepreneurial mindset that amazes everyone who comes in contact with them. The beautiful part of their story is that besides using the income they generate to meet personal needs, they are more interested in supporting other children who are not so fortunate.
Speaking to INSIDE ABUJA, Bryan said “we feel excited and proud whenever we sell any of our products. I love spending my time making things I can sell to people. Some times we assist our parents business with the little money we generate, other times we use our money to get what we need or what we want.
We will like to see other children do this instead of begging on the streets.”
George explained that “Our parents are a great motivator, they said we could make use of our free time to make things that can help the world so we decided to try and make some of these stuffs.
“Its important to learn these skills to teach other generations, for making money for ourselves and parents, and sometimes we help others in need.”
With so much faith in her kids, Mrs Blessing Chiazor and husband did not only figure out their children’s talents, but encouraged them towards developing those skills besides acquiring education in school.
“The whole idea is to be able to get them do something besides what they are being taught in school and I know that these kids are very good with their hands so we just tried to encourage them to do what they can. Again, instead of the holiday lessons to play away their time, we decided to push them into any handy thing that is available so they can become more useful in future rather than waiting to get a white collar job when they graduate,” the proud mum said.
Also working out his future from a tender age, 15 year old Usman Abdulazeez with the wise counsel of his mum, is today a Chief Executive Officer. Seeing a lot of unemployed graduates roaming the streets and the desire to be financially independent inspired him to start up a food business.
In a chat with INSIDE ABUJA, Abdulazeez explained that “Learning these skills besides what i am being taught in school will push me further because those things we learn in school are not going to help us in the real world like relating with people and knowing how to do certain things.
“School in Nigeria is boring; our curriculum is limited but when you see other schools in different countries on YouTube, you realise that your school is really not doing anything to encourage you towards what you want to do in future.
“Every child should acquire skills it will expand their way of thinking, pit them ahead of their peers and help in other aspects of their life.”
Proffering a word of advise to the Government, the young CEO called for the establishment of skill acquisition centres and the inclusion of entrepreneurial studies into the primary school curriculum to expose children to basic skills including sewing, engineering, software development and designs. “It should be made compulsory for all students because these skills can help them in the future. No matter what don’t depend on your parents if you want to make money in the future,” he said.
The holidays have come and gone; while most children spent the last six weeks attending holiday lessons, some were acquiring skills, others played out the whole weeks while those who already have skills like the Chiazor brothers; George and Bryan who aspire to be a scientist and an artiste respectively and Abdulazeez who wants to go into renewable energy, devoted more time horning their skills and creating more meaningful outputs in their various businesses.
Every child whether rich or poor, living in the urban or rural area, has a right to basic education, sadly, a good number of children especially in Northern Nigeria are out of school. To help complement efforts of the Federal Government to reduce the massive number of over 10 million children without access to education, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) through the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), has carried out several interventions which has resulted in a massive enrollment increase in several schools across the north.
One of such intervention is the all inclusive School Based Management Committee (SBMC) scheme, whose membership cut across community and religious leaders, artisans, an association of mothers and high level women, students, youths and men who are passionate about seeing an improvement in the teaching and learning of children within their communities.
It is on record that the SBMC scheme has continued to witness a positive impact but one thing that has continued to bother the committee is the rate of unemployment in the country and to worsen their situation, majority of graduates do not have a skill to fall back on. As a result, a good number find themselves in crime, contributing to the social problems the country is currently grappling with.
Speaking to INSIDE ABUJA at a DFID sponsored media dialogue, the chairman SBMC Zamfara State, Abubakar Dogo, said the solution to what he described as a “swell of unemployed youths” is the exposure of primary and secondary school students especially those in the North, to entrepreneurial skills.
He argued that since western education was making students not learn the traditional skills mostly handed down from generation to generation, the SBMC are advocating for the introduction of entrepreneurial skills in basic education curriculum to enable students grow up with a skill that can help them have a means of livelihood whether they are fortunate to get a white collar job or not.
“Instead of entrepreneurial studies in the universities, the best thing to do is to start early, catch them young, give your children skills at a very early age so that they can grow into it and have what to do. That is what many countries do and you find out that by the time they get to the university they are many things such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, designers to help them earn a living.
“Education is all about life, it’s about living you don’t just read and be literate and hold your certificate, it doesn’t make you live. Our children should be able to figure out what they can do to earn a living.
“That is why the SBMC is advocating give your child a skill; that will save us from the problem of unemployment otherwise there will continue to be a vicious circle, we’ll continue to do the same thing, produce more unemployable graduates and we will be in trouble because the population is growing, the number of graduates are growing the numbers of universities are multiplying but we are on the same spot that is the problem.
“The SBMC’s are seriously advocating for this in our schools because one of the problems of western education is that it disoriented the youths; they don’t learn the traditional skills and they end up not learning the new technological or entrepreneurial skills so when they finish the university they can’t go back to the traditional skills. If their parents are blacksmiths, shoemakers, barbers or what ever they are, they don’t like that one but they have not acquired anything new to live on.
“Make sure your children are growing into something they can rely in to make a living otherwise you are in trouble. Crimes, violence will follow it because young people are frustrated,” he advised