Stroke of my pen: The joy, hope and fears of a final year undergrad

Sun, 9 Aug 2015 Source: Blege, Alex

Alex Blege.

Every university or tertiary student hopes to come to the end of the four year programme which he or she begun. As the end comes in sight, there are more questions than answers on the mind of that individual; pictures in the mind that cannot show.

What will I do after this place? Have I really achieved what I came to this place for? Have I developed intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically? Have I improved in this life? Many answers flow into the corridors of the mind of the individual.

In Ghana, where Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah declared, we are free forever; a call to do away with low self esteem and mental inferiority; the final year undergrad is joyful that he or she is going away from the early morning lectures, away from academic vigils, time consuming group assignments, boring lecturers and their lectures.

The joy of been respected as an individual who has been able to finish a tedious four year education makes the individual walk on cloud nine. The others who finish the polytechnic or the professional institutions are not left out; though their period is either a two year or a three year.

Whatever number of years one may have finished; it is obligatory to serve one’s motherland. Do you know why? It is legal. And you and me had promised as we were growing up , “I promise on my honour to be faithful and loyal to Ghana my mother land…. I pledge myself to the service of Ghana with all my strength and with all my heart…… and the last phrase…. So help me God.

At the back of the mind of the undergrad, as he or she ponders and smiles, the thought of beginning another level of life – working his or her way out to serve the motherland in one region or the other; in some bank or government institution; talking to one big shot somewhere or a parent’s classmate who has the wherewithal to ensure that the undergrad does serve the motherland in comfort.

National service is mandatory. However, why does our system take delight in putting a square peg in a round hole? For instance, an undergrad who graduates with BSc. Accounting is posted to teach in a primary school; someone reads History and he or she is posted to work in a bank.

Why must a nation with so many technocrats behave in such manner? Why will the National Service Secretariat not send undergrads who graduate with B.A, Education from Winneba or University of Cape Coast to the classroom?

This issue over the years has not helped this nation. Yet we glory and make lame excuses for our inactions. National Service Secretariat is an institution that should mold undergrads but it has been used to frustrate undergrads.

It should be the first point of a working experience for an undergrad, yet the undergrad lacks it, because he or she served in a field other than what he or she studied.

There are situations where people discover other hidden talents while they are serving, but this does not apply to all. It should not be a blanket excuse.

Okay then the next thought that nudges the undergrad is what next after serving my motherland. The process of walking on the corridors of looking for one employment opportunity or the other begins. When you get there too, it is who knows you?

It is said that the jobs the undergrad seek is non – existent. So start your own. Then one begins to put on his or thinking cap. How does the course I studied enable me to start a business or in plain terms put some money in my pocket and put food on my table?

It is high time our authorities begin to look at the courses that are studied in the university. As for the polytechnics, the courses are more technical and so a good scanning of one’s environment should help the individual identify a problem and seek ways to solve those problems.

Our universities must rediscover the purpose for their establishment. University authorities and policy makers, must begin to think of molding the student into an entrepreneur not just an individual who is only made to commit to memory some concepts he or she has no idea how it works on the ground after the four walls of the university.

I have come to this conclusion that our leaders have failed the youth of today. All they enjoyed from education to employment they have not been able to keep for the undergrad of today.

Well, it is said that destiny is not made up of fortune; it is made up of circumstances. And as a batman some years ago, there was this inscription I read, “we have done so much with nothing that we can do anything with nothing”. This thought has changed my way of thinking.

The Ghanaian undergrad must begin to think of developing himself or herself. The politician has no concern for that undergrad. The undergrad must begin to be independent minded and persevere. The undergrad must go beyond reading to make a good class.

The undergrad must begin to ask himself or herself, “what do I want to do after this place?” He or she must begin working on what he or she knows how to do best and how that can be channeled into making a living after school.

A friend of mine, Manasseh Awuni Azure during his days as an undergrad at the Ghana Institute of Journalism took his destiny into his own hands and defined the path he wanted to pursue in life.

He narrates in an article, “Graduating with second class upper” how friends sympathized with him and how some lecturers and administrative staff members got disappointed in him for missing first class.

“The actual reason I missed first class however, was that I had my personal syllabus aside the one we all learnt. After my practical attachment with GTV in level hundred, I had a different perspective about the programme I was pursuing”.

“I realized what was taught in the classroom was not exactly what was happening in the newsroom. And after having my appetite for journalism whetted in the newsroom, I returned with a different mindset. I spent more time reading novels, newspaper articles and journalism books than my notes”.

Reading is one attitude we lack in this country. It is uncommon to find the undergrad reading extra material for his or her personal development. It is too much work, but again, na who cause am? Reading makes a man. That is quite gender biased, isn’t it? Reading makes a person.

Our educational system has a role to play in discouraging the habit of reading. The undergrad cannot make time to read any other material and think outside the box because if he or she does, the GPA will suffer. Thinking outside the box is not encouraged in our system.

Too much focus is given to the course work that reading has become a dead habit. The question often asked, “we have not finished reading our lecture notes, how then do we read novels, magazines and newspaper articles”.

It is unfair to lay the problem only at the door steps of university authorities. The youth of our time desire to spend more time having fun rather than spending at least three to four hours reading some novel, magazine or journal.

Manasseh nails the issue in these words, “in the university you’ll be given too many things to learn without necessarily focusing on what you will be doing after school. Figure out what you want to do after school and give 60% of your time to that and 40% to your course work”.

Columnist: Blege, Alex