Youth unemployment and need for life skill development

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Yearly, thousands of young people join the labour market in search of unavailable employments, especially government job. It has been argued that this challenge can be tackled if life skills education is inculcated early in school children. ENE OSANG writes.

Though emphasis has been laid on entrepreneurship lately, some expert believes that this will not hold water except school children, beginning from the primary school ages are oriented towards life skills before they graduate from higher institutions and search for jobs.
It is to this end that government is urged to include in school’s curriculum; the learning experiences that task young school children to think about real life issues and challenges that could translate into persuasive arguments and presentations.

The Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Learning Impact NG and a Director of Life Skills Experts/Be Better Books Mr. Omagbitse Barrow, gave the advise during a press briefing in Abuja on the upcoming School Debate League 2017.
Barrow said it was time the Nigerian education system moved from only academics to real life skills that will enable children perfom effectively in the society after school, regretting that the school programmes in Nigeria focus almost exclusively on the Intelligent Quotient.
He noted the unanimous fact amongst social scientists across the globe which states that for individials to achieve sustainable success they need a combination of academic skills and life skills; the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ).

Explaining further he said social scientists agreed that as a component of success, EQ accounts for 85% while the IQ accounts for 15%, adding therefore that efforts to educate children should be focused on EQ and the life skills that create this form of intelligence.
”According to my dad, and I paraphrase ‘Do you think that it is only by reading and passing Maths that you are going to become a success in life? There is much more to life than Maths. While your friends have spent the holidays, playing and socializing, you have been locked up reading Maths’.”

”This is further supported by the ground-breaking and critically-acclaimed research done by many scholars including Malcom Gladwell, Ken Robinson and Daniel Goleman showing that the two intelligences that create success – Cognitive Intelligence (IQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) contribute towards success in the ratio of 15:85 respectively.
”In essence, the most successful people in the world have more than 5 times more skills in the area of emotional intelligence than they have in cognitive intelligence,” he said.

He however said this does not mean that formal academic education is useles, but rather that the 15% academic skills only provide the basis for the deeper education needed to succeed.
”Another way to look at it is that while your school results and degrees will help you open the door to your first job or business, keeping yourself in that room, and making a success of that career, vocation or business will be driven entirely not by your academic skills, but by your life skills – the skills for leadership and personal effectiveness, communication and persuasion; creativity and innovation; and financial literacy amongst others.”

So, the big question is – to what extent is the education that children and young adults receive up to tertiary level able to prepare them for these real life challenges – the 85% that makes a difference.
The expert said not much, and to be very realistic for most people almost zero.
According to him Scholars like Messrs Robinson, Gladwell and Goleman mentioned earlier believe the same of the educational programs of the Americas and Europe that are far more sophisticated than that of Nigeria and Africa, saying the Nigerian situation is bad.

The CEO argued in favour of the creation of a life skills curriculum on one simple premise: that the purpose of education is to prepare children for independent and meaningful lives as adults.
”If we agree that the skills required for success in adult life are more of the life skills (and I am convinced that your experience as an adult confirms this), then why are we still struggling to have these subjects fully integrated in our school curricular.

In our modest attempts to do this over the last couple of years, here are a few surmountable impediments we have encountered.
The expert said there has been no strategic thrust of the policy makers in Government – while they accept the underlying premise, they have not been audacious enough to push for it.
”But there is a ray of hope, even this week in Abuja the Central Bank of Nigeria and other Financial Industry Regulators will be hosting a Conference on Financial Literacy and Inclusion where the progress they have made so far with the Nigerian Educational Research & Development Council (NERDC), the Government Agency responsible for school curriculum development in developing and implementing a Financial Literacy Curriculum in Schools will be discussed.

”The Conference will hopefully get the highest level of Government support with the Acting President in attendance,” he said.
He further said the biggest challenge lies in the educational community itself. ”Many schools and School Leaders are unable to fit the content into their schools right away, because of the huge capacity gaps that exist among the teachers.

”You will agree that even if you were not an outstanding student of Mathematics, you can still cope as a Math teacher because at least you have studied Math before. Most of our teachers like most of us have not been formally instructed in Financial Literacy, Leadership, Communication or Innovation before, so “nemo dat quod non habet” – we cannot give what we do not have,” he said.

Way forward
The educatio expert maintained that a lot of work has to be done in not only developing these life skills curriculum and books, but also in training the teachers in these subjects that will prepare children better than the older generation were prepared to deal with the real life challenges of adult life.

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