Thirty four years after its inception, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme will be revamped to enable it “meet contemporary and future challenges.” Guardian:
The review would cover the funding arrangement, conditions for exemption and exclusion from National Youth Service, stiff penalties for evasion from service and impersonation of corps members, welfare provision by employers of corps members and the statutory obligation of states and local councils.
There are even talks Corpers – the common tag for NYSC members – may be sent to farms to help boost food production, given the current scarcity and rising prices of food items in Nigeria.
Every year the NYSC mobilizes at least 150,000 members nationwide, but does the agency even conscious of how to put this cheap labor force into best use?
Are the members mentally and socially prepared to face the challenges of the service year?
For starters, shouldn’t Corpers be prepared for the tasks ahead while in they are still in colleges? How about classes and seminars designed to prepare them for the one-year mandatory service? Ask a soon-to-be-Corper what the NYSC is about and you will get all sorts of answers. To me there are only two answers: Nation building and personal empowerment – and the college classroom is the place to start making this clear to the prospective Corper.
Do corpers even need the mandatory 3-week orientation if its focus is strictly to build physical endurance? How about teaching simple survival skills? Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), dealing with snake bites, responding to emergency situations (road traffic accidents, gunshot wounds) are more appropriate skill set to have in accident-prevalent Nigeria I think.
And if the Corpers will be sent to the farms, please they need to be taught about farming, properly, from both practical and business perspectives – and with the purpose of converting some of the Corpers into career farmers. The days of seeing Corpers as “disposable and cheap” should be over.