Graduate Unemployment: The 6-3–3-4 Education System Needs to be Changed by Caleb Onyeabor

Newsie Events: #Opinion
Graduate Unemployment has become a common social problem in Nigeria today. While the terrible state of the Nigerian economy caused by decades of bad leadership is the biggest responsible factor, there is also a link between the way our educational system is designed and unemployment.
In our school system, most students spend many years learning outdated things or things that have no material value. They become unemployed because there is nowhere to apply what they spent many years learning in school. In the studying cycle of an average Nigerian student particularly in Primary and secondary schools, a lot of time that is supposed to be channeled into other ventures is wasted due to the way the system is designed. The 6-3-3-4 system of education has outlived its use and must be replaced urgently.
I think 6 years in secondary school is a waste and very unnecessary. What are people still doing in JSS3 and SS3? I believe if schools are serious in their work, 2 years is enough to prepare their students for junior secondary exams and 2 years is also enough to prepare students for WAEC and other senior secondary school exams. We have cases of students who could not do well in these exams even after going through JSS3 and SS3 and we have had cases of students who had done well in these exams from JSS2 and SS3. I have a friend who despite the fact that I am more academically better than him, wrote his Junior exams in JSS2 and his senior exams in SS2. He passed them all. I passed mine in JS3 and SS3. Today I am not a better person than he is. Why did I have to go through JS3 and SS3 if I could pass those exams in JS2 and SS2? That’s two wasted years. As long as schools are not performing, even if you allow students up to SS ten and JS twelve, they will fail. If schools are repositioned to performed better, 2 years is enough to prepare a student both for his junior exams, senior exams, and for future life engagement. We also have a case of a primary school system that’s a waste of time. What are we still doing with primary six? Remove primary six, you have one year, remove JS3, you have one year, remove SS3 you have one year altogether gives you 3 full years. The three years can be made to be 3 years of compulsory and technical skills acquisition. After which, the student can decide whether to proceed to the University or any tertiary institution.
5 years primary school, 2 years junior secondary and 2 years senior secondary and 3 years compulsory vocational and technical education and an optional 4 years of University education – that is a 5-2-2-3-4 system should replace the 6-3-3-4 system if Nigeria hopes to reverse the speed with which unemployment is growing in the country.
I understand that there are some schools where crafts and vocational skills are being taught alongside normal academics. For some personal reasons, I believe that in Nigeria, you can’t learn vocational or training skills properly in a formal schooling environment. In this country, a mechanic trained in a mechanic workshop is far better than a mechanic trained in a classroom. The 3 years of compulsory vocational and technical skills training should be designed in such a way that after writing their WAEC in SS2, they are not done with secondary school and must complete 3 years of technical and vocational training in any vocational and technical venture. That 3 year is compulsory for every Nigerian as it should be made a criterion for admission into universities and other tertiary institutions. These vocational and technical training can be done in two ways. Students can enroll for an apprenticeship in various vocational shops across the country or in special vocational centers run by private proprietors or the government. As a matter of policy, the government can even set areas of priority. These will include skills that the country needs to serve its industrialization drive.
A developmental state is a state that is serious about economic development. This political-economic idea of developmental statism was practiced by the Asian tigers and the adoption of this ideology of the development state is responsible for why some of these South East Asian countries were able to move from third world to first world. Among the many ideas in the developmental state theory is the preference for technical and vocational education over formal education. This is what was done in China, Japan, and others and it explains why majority of their citizens are skilled and productive. Replacing the 6-3-3-4 model with a 5-2-2-3-4 model is akin to preferring technical and vocational education to formal education with the sole aim of raising the number of skilled Nigerians in order to curb unemployment, boost industrial development and ensure Nigeria transits into being an entrepreneurial economy.
Unemployment is rising every day. Hundreds of thousands of graduates leave school every year with nothing to show. The 6-3-3-4 system of education is an old idea that is not working
Like all old ideas, it is time for fresh ideas.
Caleb Onyeabor is a political analyst, policy expert, and an advocate for social justice, political justice, and economic justice. He writes from Enugu. Connect with him on Twitter @caleb_onyeabor and WhatsApp +2347032829241
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