Thursday, 28 July 2011
By Anote Ajeluorou
A new book sets it so neatly, almost with a doomsday verdict: Nigerian youths are not 21st century-compliant! And this is serious indictment of a nation’s youth force. Simply put: Nigerian youths are not at par with their counterparts from some other parts of the world. The reasons are as obvious as they are ominous
In his new book The 360 Degrees Youths: 21st Century Approach to Total Youths’ Development, Joshua Olabisi Falade explores the amazing world of the Nigerian youth and its place within the global context. But what he finds is a nation’s youth in disadvantage in the global scheme of things. As a youth leader within the Christian fold, Falade is worried. And he thinks every other Nigerian should be worried as well, especially parents who he says are saddled with the task of raising assets not just children.
It is this distinction between raising children and making them assets that has set the Nigerian youth at an uncertain the cross-road. Falade argues in his book that there is a need to raise well-rounded youths that can compete at all levels and in all sectors of human life to fit the global economic vision. He maintains that youths need to go beyond being educated but also being able to fit the demands of the century founded on solid Information Technology and Communications (ITC).
“Youths should be compliant with the features of the 21st century, especially in the area of competition, which is global,” Falade states, “Youths must be used to all the tools used in dealing with the century. I advise parents to have small family that they can manage as it has become increasingly expensive to raise a family so the children can become assets rather than a liability. On their part, youths should adapt to the old moral order so as not to be too materialistic.”
Falade lists various factors that have made the Nigerian youth less competitive with his mates in the global arena. These factors include a poor, starry-eyed educational curriculum that ill-equips him for usefulness in society, government’s failure to take into account youths’ potential as productive sector of the economy; a poor technological appreciation, physical inadequacy, mental lapse and poor financial base.
These factors, according to Falade, need to be addressed urgently so as to better reposition the nation’s youth force and turn it into an asset and advantage for purpose of national development. He says, “Educationally, the Nigerian youth is so backward. Education should not be abstract but one that teaches skills, especially entrepreneurial skills– so graduates would be better prepared for life after school. A large number of youths are not where they should be in terms of readiness for work.
“In other words, they are globally unprepared, socially disconnected, financially uninformed, physically un-agile, anti-fitness; in fact, they are not there yet in these areas. Reason is that education hasn’t prepare them. The curriculum is inadequate; it can’t prepared youths to be 21st century-compliant.
“In terms of technology, Nigerian youths are just hooked onto the social media network. They are not really into technology yet whereas the global economy is tech-driven. Also in terms of mental ability, Nigerian youths lag behind; the reasoning of youths today is very low; their debate is shallow. All Nigerian youths know is soccer and such trivial affairs and not the issues that drive the world like politics. Financially, Nigerian youths are not there yet; only in negative terms like yahoo or 419”.
To redress the situation, Falade maintains that there is a need for parents to bequeath to children needed skills that will make youths fit to play a part in a globalised economy otherwise raising them becomes a disservice and incalculable harm to society. He also tasks religious institutions to step up their roles and act as great socialising agents and elevate the love for mankind, morality and de-emphasise the love for materialism. Religious institutions, he states, should go back to the moral basics that will replace the corrupt order.
He insists government must redefine the basis of education to remove all abstractions for the reality staring the world in the face. Falade says things that are relevant and practical in education should be in the curriculum for a better society, saying the old concept of the town and gown should be well-aligned.
The 360 Degrees Youths: 21st Century Approach to Total Youths’ Development is scheduled for launch later this month.
By Anote Ajeluorou
Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), like other associations in the country, used to be vocal on national issues some years back as part of its unwritten pact with the ordinary citizens of Nigeria for whom leadership is still a far cry from the ideal. Crusading for the masses and shielding them against the insensitivity in high places is part of the writer’s duty. But in recent years, ANA’s voice has fallen silent to the dismay of most Nigerians, including Prof. Niyi Osundare
“Who sold ANA? Who bought ANA? And, for how much? Why is ANA’s silence so loud? We need to know who bought us and for how much!” this was the barrage of questions with which the distinguished Professor of English at the New Orleans University, U.S., greeted the ANA vice president, Prof. Sunday Ododo, at the entrance of Kakanfo Inn, Ibadan, venue of the recent yearly Authors’ Forum of University Press Plc. Osundare was guest speaker at the event, and he paid homage to the book.
The renowned poet is deeply frustrated by the apparent silence by the writers’ body. He once played a prominent role in the affairs of the body 1980s when it was newly formed. ANA’s vibrancy in articulating national issues used to be a model for other civil societies. But of late, the writers’ body has significantly lost its voice in the marketplace of national discourse and has gradually fallen into obscurity. But like other concerned citizens, Osundare is worried; and fears that the association has sold out, a situation he views as having tragic consequences both for writers and the Nigerian polity.
In an earlier conversation, where he examined some of the problems plaguing the country, Osundare had expressed his frustration thus, “The bombings all over the place, Boko Haram, the problems in the Niger Delta; for goodness sake, ANA’s voice should be heard. Ken Saro-Wiwa was a former president of ANA apart from being a great writer himself. I understand there is going to be a conference in his name. That is good. ANA should be more interested and should be more vociferous about what is happening in the Niger Delta; what is happening in the North; what is happening to this country.
“Innocent Youths Corp members were murdered in cold blood not long ago. An association of writers should say something about this. Nobody needs to tell us; our pen commits us, and it commits us seriously. I must say that in terms of gatherings and so on, well, it’s good. But ANA should not be an association of annual convention only. Writing is what we do virtually every minute of the day. Even when we are not putting pen to paper, we’re doing writing in our heads.
“I think the values that we cherish, the values that we think our country should cherish, the rights that human beings should cherish, should all be on the front plate of ANA. At the moment, I don’t hear the voice of ANA. I hear the voice of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA); I hear the voice of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and even women organisations and so on.
“And, of course Association Senior Staff Unions of Universities (ASUU), has remained so relevant in this country not because it’s an association of teachers agitating for higher salaries for its members but by talking about the polity itself. I still consider myself a member of ASUU. I remember how we used to write our communiqués. It was 50-50– 50 per cent dealt with ASUU issues while the remaining 50 dealt with the state of the nation. ANA has not been talking about the state of the nation at all.
“If there were no country, there would be no ANA; if there is no peace in this country, we’ll not be able to write and write well. ANA needs to go back to being the conscience of the writer and the nation”.