As the country seeks alternative sources of revenue toovercome the current recession, students of Pacesetters Group of Schools, Abuja recently demonstrated that Nigerian youths have the potential of salvaging the country if given the right environment, and encouragement; just as the Chairman, Kenneth Imansuangbon described education as the only way out of recession.Uchechukwu Nnaike reports
Youth unemployment has always posed a challenge to the Nigerian economy and with the education sector taking a large chunk of the blame for producing graduates that lack the skills to either create jobs or secure employment. The situation has been made worst by the current recession which has forced the country to look inwards and seek alternative sources of income aside crude oil.
For students of Pacesetters Group of Schools, Abuja, their resolve to be excluded from the league of unemployed youths was demonstrated during the recent talents show organised for students of Pacesetters’ College, Wuye and Gwarinpa. They displayed ingenuity in politics, engineering, science, arts and business ventures like production of pop-corn machine and making pop-corn, poultry business and production of liquid soaps, disinfectants and other household items.
In politics, the students re-enacted a typical senate session, where important decisions concerning the country are made, as well as the screening of ministerial candidates. For each nominee, they showed their level of awareness by asking relevant questions.
In engineering, members of the Junior Engineers Technicians and Scientist (JETS) Club of the school exhibited their skills through the construction of a prototype RC aeroplane, while other students demonstrated how a volcanic eruption occurs. There were also on display works of art made by the students, which were later auctioned and sold for about N500,000.
For those interested in poultry farming, some of the students were also on hand to show how much they know about that line of business in terms what to consider when building a house for the birds, how to ensure proper hygiene around the house, kinds of poultry diseases, causes and preventive methods, among others.
Members of the Entrepreneurship Club also displayed their prowess in the production of household items like liquid soap, disinfectants, among others; their products were also unveiled and sold to the parents. They students expressed hope that if encouraged by the government, they can embark on large scale production of the items thereby creating jobs and reducing the number of youth employment. They argued that by encouraging young entrepreneurs, the country can come out of recession.
The students also showed that they have not lost touch with their culture, as there was a colorful display of the mode of dressing, dance and tradition of some tribes in the country.The event also featured speech presentations, words of wisdom, choreography and a beauty pageant, where the students exhibited their eloquence and poise.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Board of Directors of the school, Mr. Kenneth Imansuangbon, who announced the birth of a new school in Guzape area of the FCT, urged parents to celebrate their children’s talents and to encourage them so as to spur them for more achievements.
On the rationale behind establishing a new school which brings the number of schools owned by the Pacesetters’ Group to four, he said: “Basically, the future of any country is education; what makes a country great is education, the ability of that country to invest in the educational capabilities of their children and that educational capabilities trigger development.
“So education is development. For Nigeria to develop, we must bring education to every citizen irrespective of tribe, religion and background. It should not be that because their parents are not alive they cannot go to school. My little contribution to my country alongside my wife, Kate and principals of schools and staff and parents is to take the quality of schools we dream of for our biological children to every nook and cranny, first in Abuja and then God willing we will spread to other states of the country.”
On the solution to the current recession in the country and the need to impart entrepreneurial skills in students to address the unemploymentissue, Imansuangbon described education as the only way out of recession.
“A good economist that can read the economic data must first go to a very good school, he must have a good primary education, then a good secondary education where he/she will imbibe good values, then a good university system. So if we have a good system, a well-trained cultured graduate will not loot the treasury.”
In terms of entrepreneurship, he said the days are gone in the world when people wait for the government to create jobs. “If you saw the talents show, our secondary school students are already making soaps, pop-corn, art works which were sold for about N500,000, bought by parents and visitors. The world over, no one waits for the government to be employed, create the employment for yourselves, the way to do that is to generate confidence.
“You must first believe in your ability to succeed. The kind of students we are producing don’t need to wait for anyone to give them jobs, anywhere you are there are jobs all over. People can explore their talents and that can only be triggered in a good school system, good governmental system, it is a tripartite arrangement- the private sector, the citizens and the government.”
The chairman, who explained that the school’s curriculum is Nigerian based but with a lot of scientific and international merger, said a graduate of the school can fit in anywhere in the world. According to him the school provides a conducive learning environment for students to thrive, but he expressed fear that leadership now and in the future could muzzle them.
“When you see the quality of students we are producing then you will know that we can make it as a people, but in a country where there is no justice, freedom, where the best are not allowed to emerge, there is a problem. I weep when I watch the students perform because they have great talents, great potential, abilities, trailblazers, but will the Nigerian society not muzzle them that is my fear.
“But I also have my hope, which is that these children we are producing will not allow the repression of the society to affect them, rather they will change the situation in their time. I tell them to change the situation in their time, let there be free and fair elections, let no one’s will prevail. These things must be taught in schools; civics, citizenship, among others. We must begin to teach ethics in schools and good citizenship.
“We teach these in Pacesetters, citizenship is the focus, confidence is the focus, speech making is the focus, abilities and potential are the focus, handwriting is the focus. I am proud to say that the school director recently wrote a book on the ‘Handwriting That Works’, the authorities made it the number one textbook for handwriting schools in FCT.
“I am proud to report that in faraway USA, the book has been recommended in Fairfax County. My wife is teaching Fairfax County Schools as an independent contractor. So who will say that Nigerians are not great people with potential, we are but will the system allow the country to move forward, that is my fear, but I have also inspired my students that in their time they should not allow anyone to repress them.”
The chairman, who is also nursing a desire to establish a university said the drive is the demand of the students and parents, who believe that with good primary and secondary school systems, the school should end very well with a good university system.
“In that regard, we are already talking with some Americans, we want to bring some Nigerians and some Americans together so that in two to three years we will have a very good university system in Abuja, we are working hard. But my fear is also will the government support us, the first demand of the American partner is if we have government support, is the government providing land?
“All the four campuses we have we all bought with bank loan. It is about our children, the future of the country; countries that have made it are those that succeeded educationally. The challenge we have basically is that government must rise to the occasion. I call on the minister of education and the minister of FCT, I need encouragement from them in terms of providing land even government must support people who are genuinely interested in education. There must be educational financing, those who are serious who want to conduct research, who want to possibly go to the moon should be encouraged to do so and universities should not be allowed to die.”
“All those who have looted our treasury should invest it back in education. You don’t loot the treasury of your country and take to another country because at the end of the day, this is our country, we don’t have another one. I advise that we should boost and encourage good educational system in our country.”