By Gbenga Osoba
Since the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) by the Gowon military administration on 22 May 1973, to help quicken the process of reconstructing, reconciling and rebuilding the Nigerian state after a devastating 30 months of Civil War that tore the country apart, NYSC has proven to be an indispensable tool in engendering unity, reintegration, lasting peace and building a robust education sector in the country.
With the inception of the scheme, the widening gap of mutual suspicion, ethnic distrust and religious tension that was created by the civil war, began to close as the youths started to appreciate the similarities in our diverse cultures and beliefs. The opportunity the scheme afforded the youths to be abreast with the way of life of people outside their state and region, created an enabling atmosphere for Nigeria to quickly heal from the nearly three years of war. An expert on African history puts it even more better when she wrote, “the seamless recovery of Nigeria from a grueling 30 months of bloodbath was magical. A magic that was a masterstroke of the NYSC scheme”.
In the education sector, the role NYSC scheme plays in instituting quality education across board, cannever be over emphasized. It is on record that since the inception of NYSC, our education sector has reinvigorated the waning confidence of Nigerians in the sector, with a steadily increasing integrity. The scheme introduced a touch of dynamism, innovation, creativity and new discoveries in the sector, through the activities of Corps members sent to these schools for their PPAs. Students in majority of the remote villages were as well inspired by the corps members to study hard so they can equally graduate and serve their father land in the future. The new enthusiasm this created in the young students, paved way for a robust competition amongst them, encouraging a vivid growth in the quality of education at the local level.
The adventurous nature of their teaching method, created a fertile ground for raw talents to be hatched. New subjects and courses which were introduced by corps members in their various schools for PPA, provided viral alternatives for every student to fit in. It enabled every student to quickly discover their areas of strength and nurture same into a societal asset. The mental challenge the presence of the young corps members pose for the young students, equally enabled an efficient and effective learning process for the students. It raised the bar for industry and added impetus to the standard of education in our schools. Knowledge was effectively and seamlessly passed. This encouraged many people who were hitherto disinterested in formal education to find it captivating, thereby reducing the number of out of school children in the localities.
The leverage of higher academic training the corps members possess (University Graduates) over the school teachers (mostly NCE graduates) made them the rallying point for the students to get advanced knowledge and exposure on many contemporary subjects and topics. This also benefited the students in both public and private schools, in the areas of self-development and confidence building. The inability of the majority of corps members to understand and speak the native languages of students in the rural areas and had to rely solely on English language to teach and communicate with the students, provided a virile platform for the students to improve their communication skills in English language. The corps members therefore contribute immeasurably to the development and improvement of English language in our schools.
The contributions of NYSC scheme to the development of our education system and their role as the symbol of unity and cultural integration in Nigeria, has earned them, the confidence and respect of the majority of Nigerians.
In a new public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls, it was revealed that 8 in 10 adult Nigerians do not support the scrapping of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
It was further revealed that out of the 80 percent who do not support the scrapping of the scheme, majority of the population (30 percent) affirms that the scheme is a tool for cultural integration in the country. While 27 percent believe that the scheme is an avenue for exposure and self-development, 17 percent believe it helps the youths in various ways.
It was also revealed via the poll result that most Nigerians (83 percent) who participated in the poll admitted that the scheme has met its objectives of fostering National Unity in the country.
“Interestingly, 83 percent stated that graduates do benefit from the scheme and when probed further, monthly allowance (30 percent), intercultural relationship (17 percent), and self-development (12 percent) were the three top benefits mentioned amongst others”, part of the report on the poll stated.
Osoba wrote this article from Minna.