In school, we were told we needed education to be successful in the real world. We were told all we needed to do was to study hard, make the right grades and companies would rush to employ us. Companies came to advertise themselves and encouraged us to apply for work with them. We were told many things. We incubated these hopes and dreams and waited to graduate so we could birth them. Four years of university education in Ghana and a bachelor’s degree later, Where are all the goodies we were promised? Then the harsh reality hit me, I am now in the real world…
In the real world (The place you go after school), jobs are not lying in the street. You would find graduates sharply dressed in their coats and ties, holding huge files filled with CVs, degrees and academic nonsense, hopping from one job interview to another. You may be very lucky and get employed by someone you know. Let’s say your parents own a company, or your parents know someone who owns a company. All this person needs is a paper to show he went to a university and has graduated, the class doesn’t matter. Whether they deserve the work or not, whether they deserve the pay or not, they already have a door with their name on it in the office. Not so for everyone, some parents don’t know anyone and they don’t have an official SSNIT pension scheme. Their “pension scheme” is the money they invested in educating their children, what do these children do after school when unemployed?
You could decide to seek “greener pastures” on either the American or European soil. But in school, we were advised against this option. We were told we would cause our motherland Ghana to suffer from some strange disease known as “brain drain”. Brain Drain is the depletion or loss of intellectual and technical personnel. In the real world, starting a business is not child’s play. Why not use the intended capital to purchase a visa and plane ticket to the greener pasture? After all, washing plates, cleaning restrooms or brushing horses’ teeth and getting paid per hour in the foreign currency is better than walking around in the sun for jobs that are like mirages. Even if you are lucky to get the job, your pay would be terrible as compared to someone who had lower grades but got employed by someone he knows.
You might disagree with me, you might be saying the youth have to be patriotic and use the education acquired to serve the country, fine. The question now is serve the country where? In my parent’s living room? Or under the scorching African sun? Why won’t we run away and drain the country? After paying all that school fees? Unless of course you want me to stay and start a business in the social vices which is risky.
The heart breaking part is the kind of education we receive. It is locally known as “chew and pour”, the lecturer gives you notes, you cram them (if you are very good, the day before exams) then you answer definition type of questions, “what is this, what is that?” I am not against knowing what this or that is, but after we know what they are, won’t it make more sense to ask “How do you use x to solve problem y?”At least that would show the student understands and can apply what they have studied. After, when you go to look for work, they tell you that even though you know, you cannot apply in the real world so they need some years of work experience. Where am I going to get work experience when you don’t want to hire me?
What is even annoying is, while we were in school acquiring this education for 4 years, someone started a business and is now successful and I am now about to start that journey.
At the end of the day, when you are unemployed sitting on your veranda in your house, brain drain is occurring because you are still not applying what you learnt in school. At least when the graduate travels, even though there is brain drain, he would still come back and maybe set up a business or spend some money in our
brown pastures country.