Just recently, a graduate of Ajayi Crowther University burnt his degree certificate for not being able to secure a job after his University program.
Olutimain Ilenre was not the first person that had burnt his degree certificate for lack of job in Nigeria, there were numerous graduates that had done similar for similar reasons, nationally and internationally.
In 2020, Usman Abubakar from Katsina state burnt his degree certificate including his National Youth Service Corp, NYSC certificate for suffering in years without a government job.
While there are many Nigerian graduates who are depressed, worried and agonised because they couldn’t get a job with their schools’ certificates. Bridget Thapwile Soko a Rwandan burnt a degree certificate in Business Administration for not being able to secure a job, for the crime, the university revoked the certificate. Also, a graduate of Mount Kenya University burnt his primary school, secondary school and university certificate in June, 2023 for reasons of unemployment.
A 33-year-old lady identified as Dr Helana Darwin expressed her worries in a tweet stating that “How am I 33 with two MAs and a PhD and still so precariously situated on the job market? I feel like I went about my 20s all wrong… maybe-just maybe-higher education is overrated?” she wrote.
Lack of a job can cause psychological trauma that can lead to loss of life and until something is done the pressure on unemployed Nigerians will continue to reflect in many ways.
Unemployment has been a reason for many atrocities in Nigeria, it caused many to indulge in drug peddling, drug abuse, terrorism, arm-robbery, prostitution and many more criminal activities graduates cannot fend for themselves after study.
Degree is just a certificate but skill matters even without the certificate. The negative impact on so many Nigerian graduates is they pursue the certificate not the skill, and this is the set back among Nigerian graduates.
The book, “Skills Not Degrees: The New White Collar Job “by Professor Idris Muhammad Bugaje provided the answer on why Nigeria should have more polytechnics than universities. Polytechnics are skills oriented institutions, they equip students with skills’ talent and empower them to be self-reliant even after school, this is why there is no existing story of a polytechnic graduate burning a diploma certificate. But, thanks to NYSC for introducing a Skills Acquisition & Entrepreneurship Department (SAED) to expose corps members to skills jobs that can help them start business after school.
But, the Skills Acquisition & Entrepreneurship Department (SAED)cannot be the core solution to unemployment stress and trauma in Nigeria, the solution is “Skills Not Degrees’ ‘ because what can the graduates learn in less than two weeks of skill training? How can they get capital to start the business? With these rhetoric questions; SAED can not mitigate unemployment trauma among Nigerian youths who think with their degree certificates they must get jobs as superior officers. Polytechnic students are taught to be servants of work, they are engineers that do the practical work; the work as bricklayer not supervisor or construction managers but the real maker of the work.
With 159 polytechnics in Nigeria and 264 universities in the country the equation of unemployment must go higher than employment. Skills can prepare Nigerian polytechnic graduates to secure jobs beyond the country. They will travel to outside nations with pride and a fat salary as skilled workers. The criteria of employment in the developed nations is “show them what you can practically do” not what the expensive grades on a degree certificate.
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As the government cannot provide job for every graduate, Nigeria needs more polytechnics than universities to improve practical science and technology, and this will lead the country to a giant of Africa’s position. It will also reduce the high number of jobless youths in the country, cut the size of human trafficking and fast track Nigeria’s growth. It will boost the economy, invite investors and make the country efficient but until more polytechnics are established like China that converted 600 universities to polytechnics.
Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim Goronyo is a lecturer with Department of Mass Communication, Kaduna Polytechnic and can be reached via email@example.com