Nelson Tosin Ajulo, PhD
Education has been identified as the ultimate route to escape poverty. It is widely held that if you attend school, graduate, and get a lucrative job, your economic status will automatically be boosted or improved. This is still the case in today’s competitive world. However, it is hugely dependent on the nature or type of education you are receiving.
Sadly, the type of education delivered to African students and many other developing nations can not get them out of poverty. This is why we have millions of young graduates out there that are not employable.
The World Bank reports that youths account for more than 60% of all of Africa’s jobless population, and a large chunk of them are taking to crime, internet fraud and other anti-social activities to make ends meet.
According to the Accra-based African Center for Economic Transformation, a policy think tank, almost 50% of current university graduates in Africa do not get jobs.
For the African Development Bank (AfDB), it reports that of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment.
The crucial challenge here is a disconnection between the education these graduates are getting and what the labour market needs. So what they need to get them out of extreme poverty and get them the much-needed job is quality education.
What is quality education? Quality education is the education you receive that would enable you to compete in the global marketplace. Any education outside of this is irrelevant.
Quality education is not necessarily about attending university for four years and afterwards graduating. Even if you leave with a distinction, and your skills are not in demand, you will find it very difficult to get a job.
No apologies. Countless people are used to this type of education that is primarily theoretical. Unfortunately, governments and educational institutions across these developing countries are yet to understand or realise it. They keep pumping funds into this weak education system and expecting a different outcome. This is impossible. As long as there is a mismatch between the education received by students and what is in demand in the global marketplace, this problem will continue to linger. And if not addressed, youth crimes would persist in the fragile society.
Hence, governments and educational institutions must understand this and give youths quality education. Education that would empower them with skills that would get them well-paying jobs. These are digital skills, and they are currently in high demand. Skills like software development, cybersecurity, product design/development and UXUI designer, among others. Today, you do not need to attend a university where you would spend four years plus intermittent industrial actions to become a junior software engineer and earn money.
A platform like Zwart Academy, the edtech arm of the Zwart Talent Foundation, offers quality education to young people between the ages of 15 and 22 by equipping them with IT skills that will quickly get them out of poverty earn them their desired lifestyle.
Zwarttalent does this by training young people within the earlier age bracket in digital skills for six months. Upon completing the intensive and efficient training, they join Zwarttech for a one-year internship to work on projects and gather practical experience. After completion of the internship, they are connected with international IT jobs and start earning. The training comes at no cost. The students only need to commit their time and energy throughout the training and internship.
Importantly, you must have observed that the Zwarttalent approach is quicker, faster and well-planned. For example, it takes less than two years to become a software engineer, and there is no cost implication until the engineer starts working. This means that they can quickly get out of poverty, and the crime rate would significantly and drastically decline.
The developing world is faced with such myriads of challenges. It is also critical that sustainable solutions are deployed to tackle them. Therefore, it is only reasonable to learn the right kind of education to allow young people into poverty. With this, we can create a just, equitable and fair world. The governments and educational institutions must adjust to these realities and support or partner with an edtech like Zwart Academy to offer safety nets for young people.
Ajulo is the Chairman of the Zwart Talent Foundation