Nigeria: Labourers of Tomorrow

opinion

It is often said, that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, but from all indications not all youths are some are labourers of tomorrow. "Rich parents"someone said "equal good schools equal good start whilepoorparents equal poor schools equal no chance to catch up. You need support either at home or at school, preferably both. If neither one is there for you, you are out of luck. Post-secondary education and higher educational attainment matters ... This is a key reason why some people might be able to maintain their middle-class status and some may not." Poverty causes time to move at a frightening speed. The poor work harder than normal, endure hunger than usual and grow old quickly. The poor hardly have fun so they suffer more than is necessary and before they know it, it is time to go! "Life is hard," said Robert Guest, "When you are poor and death could come at any time." To the poor, time is uncertain, unpredictable, irregular and immeasurable. Time indeed waits for no one, but for the poor, it sometimes stands still and most times speeds off.

The saying "No time is late" is not always true, with regards to the poor because they are late in everything that gives pleasure and exposed to pressure in every facet of life. They wake up early and sleep late. Their children are scarcely educated and leave school long after their age exceeded the maximum requirement for employment. As if these are not enough troubles, the poor together with their children live in crowded shanties and slummy neighbourhoods.

Their houses are without addresses. They are not creditworthy neither do they own lands formally to enable them access loans. I may have painted grime pictures about the poor and their plight perhaps in an exaggerated manner, however, it is pertinent to state at this point that this may not be the situation for every poor person, but to put the case as strongly as possible, the majority of the poor as well as their children hardly stand a chance of improving their lives. It is sad also to note that most poor youths who inherited poverty and further impoverished by the underhandedness of our leaders at all levels are living in their future already, yet many youths have gone without smelling the so-called milk and honey their country is blessed with.

Rather than empowering our agile and virile youths to take up positions as creators, inventors or innovators, the society is allowing poverty to prepare them to take up positions as labourers while empowering the children of rich folks for leadership positions.

The children of the rich, as it were, have wise advisors with well-disciplined and intelligent tutors at their disposal. The poor on the other hand have the opposite and plenty of acquaintances lacking practical experience or training.

The children of the rich and poor folks are all leaders of tomorrow by default, but obviously, the children of the rich are more of the leaders. That is why they are often seen in clean clothes and well fed, while the poor ones are often seen in rags, malnourished and sickly. One of the most striking differences between the leaders and labourers of tomorrow is that the former learn about stock and read company reports as past time activities, while the later collects toads while swimming in bacterial infested water. It is quite easy for future labourers to appear un-ambitious, even when they are obviously bright. If only they had been given the chances they deserved, they sure would have measure up.

How can we help children of poor people measure up and prevent them from becoming labourers of tomorrow? Bridge the gap between the rich and the poor! Mind you the gap is not income inequality but educational inequality. The conditions of hard-core penury ravaging the poor on one hand and the stupendous wealth embarrassing the elites as we see in the country has nothing to do with income inequality but educational inequality. Income inequality is not a cause but an effect; and if you do away with the cause, you do away with the effect. "Income inequality" said Ben Bernanke "is troubling because, among other things, it means that many people . . . don't have the opportunities to advance themselves. The best solution to income inequality is providing a high-quality education FOR EVERYBODY. In our highly technological, globalized economy, people without education will not be able to improve their economic situation."

Will our leaders abandon their colonial mentality and make deliberate efforts to educate every citizen? The answer is neither here nor there. The fact is that educating the mass of the poor will upset the comfort of our 'colonial masters'. Therefore, the buck stops with the older poor folks, whose offspring look up to for assistance. They should know that there is no true substitute for a good education. They MUST stop viewing education as something that is too expensive when in essence they do not understand the true value of education. They SHOULD look inwards and go all out to get sound education for themselves and their children, with emphasis placed on developing marketable skills.

-Andrew wrote from Abuja.

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