Youth curriculum: Raising tomorrow’s leaders
It is easier for a nation to profess that her youth are the leaders of tomorrow than to set up and pursue vigorously a robust youth curriculum that will validate that assertion. In between that inspiring declaration and its actualisation, is a rigorous interplay of developmental efforts and activities which, if ignored, skipped, delayed or under-stuffed, will derail the youth from effectively assuming critical roles in various endeavours of national life and consequently rob the nation of that seamless transition in production and leadership, which is sine-qua-non for national development, growth and sustenance.
So, before any school of thought wrongly dismisses the Nigerian youth as indolent or irresponsible, it is important to evaluate the overall national youth curriculum, especially on the bases of purpose, depth, agency, implementation and outcome. If the goal is to raise tomorrow’s achievers and leaders for the country, how rich in content, spread and relevance are her youth developmental programmes, given the dynamics of today’s world? How strictly are they being implemented? What’s the synergy between the agents of youth development such as the family, schools, government agencies, religious bodies, NGOs, civil groups, the media, etc, in working towards common youth development goals? Whatever be the case, the outcome will be as good as the intent and efforts of the programmers and managers of the youth – or as bad.
The overall outlook of Nigeria’s youth is deplorable for very many reasons such as: non-uniformity of goals of youth development curriculums; the lamentable condition of many schools which are supposed to deliver the bulk of youth developmental programmes; the hardship of many families – important agents of youth development – which can barely afford the artificial luxury of youth education; poor mentorship and guidance; bad professional and leadership examples; unregulated and unguided teachings of religious bodies and preachers which negate national values, especially education and hardwork; insufficient allocation of resources to education and youth development; truncation or disruption of youth developmental programmes via strike actions, truancy by instructors, insurgency/terrorism, disease outbreaks, unfavourable customs and traditions, natural disasters, lack or breakdown of infrastructure, etc; various forms of child abuse/neglect; unemployment and misemployment; bad peer influence; and a litany of other problems which represent hitches and vacuums in the overall national youth curriculum.
It is worthy of note that the youth (especially at their formative stage) have the propensity to engage in various delinquencies if allowed idle time. They would readily fill up vacuums on their curriculum with social and economic vices which are injurious to their well-being, future and the nation. They must therefore be meticulously and closely guided by sundry instructors and guardians to acquire relevant knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, especially on the basis of their needs – not necessarily wants.
Governments have a pivotal role to play in regulating and coordinating the activities of other agents of youth development by: firstly ensuring the design and implementation of a comprehensive national youth development plan which all other authorities and sub-curriculums must plug into; legislating against all forms of child/youth abuse and neglect; enhancing and enforcing all youth-related laws and policies in line with international best practice; upholding the right of all youth to education and other basic development programmes; creating an enabling environment where the youth can explore and attain their potentials; encouraging competition and hardwork among the youth via rewards, awards, recognition and the provision of good professional/leadership examples; policing the caretakers of the youth for compliance with set youth development standards; providing for young trainees practical learning opportunities via internships, job opportunities, role plays, delegation, etc, at leadership and professional quarters; ensuring the physical, social and economic security of the youth, etc.
The process of onboarding the youth for leadership and professional roles must be a proactive, systematic, comprehensive, qualitative, continuous, guarded and guided exercise in preparing that segment of society for the crucial job of piloting the affairs and business of the nation. This process requires synergy among all agents of youth development in managing this important resource – the youth! It, no doubt, requires the cooperation of the youth. This process must be owned, regulated and supervised by governments, with the conviction that the youth are the seed of national posterity and also the conduit to national prosperity!
If this process fails, the nation fails; if the youth succeed, the nation succeeds!
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