“Employability means that students have acquired the knowledge; skills, attributes, reflective disposition, and identity that they need to succeed in the workforce. The mark of a truly world-class institution is measured by what its graduates do after leaving”.
Professor Idowu Olayinka had said this at the master class program which held on June 29 and 30, 2018, in his welcome address. It is only worthy to address some 21st-century idea and the hidden facts to the “ambassadors” of the institution. Probably you must have seen where it is written as he said that “the University is taking leadership in ensuring the employability of her graduates, in ensuring the employability of her graduates, especially those we consider our ambassadors (first class students, those with distinctions and high 2:1)”. It is a good feat to give those, that have made the institution proud, the hope that they have a good future through their ambassadorship.
Obviously, many are happy to be on this grade and they are always dreaming of making the University great and making a good life out of their grade points. To have a big grade point is as easy as uneasy it is. There are some factors which always lead to a condition whereby some students, who were taught under the same lecturer and obviously understand such course now have a grade point that lacks network. One of the factors that are considered to have contributed to students’ failure is the fact that some lecturers have no time to sit and mark students’ examination paper. They end up distributing these papers to their master’s degree students and these ones might want to “flex” muscle to have considerations of their own owing to the fact that they decide the scores. This is a comment given by a student in 2016. In 2017, some students in a particular class had marked some examination papers: these students were final year students and master’s degree students. At the end of everything, among about 120 students, two students had 39. When the result was released, one of these failed students approached a final year student who happened to be one the markers of these papers and complained about his predicament. Here, the final year student was taken by surprise as he said none failed in the papers his fellow final year student and he marked. He later concluded that it was the fault of the postgraduate students who always wanted to show their over-seriousness. This is just one out of many reasons students fail. That may not justify all causes.
This article is about to address the grade points and the society in which we want to sell those points to. The reason for the program that was initiated was probably not understood by some first-class students. Some must have thought that the school management wanted to link them up to some companies, while some, in the almighty shining suit and well-brushed hair, had thought they would fly away after the empowerment. From the perspective of a student of University of Ibadan who can only attend a program if item 7 is pronounced, the expectations were high that after empowerment comes special monument.
There was a story of an old man who took a sojourner into his house. This sojourner got lost on his way despite his navigation brilliance in searching for a job. After working for the old man for twenty years, he was asked to pick between using his twenty years sweat to get only three pieces of advice or go home with the money. After thinking deeply, the sojourner decided to buy the advice. At the end, he finally found his wages when he got home.
This is just like it. The school has allowed this initiation to only open the eyes of the first-class students to desist from being book-worms, to be productive. The vice-chancellor said in his address that “it is our expectation that this master class will equip you with the generic skills that are important to a successful career and/or entrepreneurial venture. I encourage you to take responsibility for your personal development to ensure that you are competitive.” Was the Vice Chancellor saying these “ambassadors” are yet to be competitive? There is no more to it, but it is important to pay attention to his submission that being a first class student does not make you a first class product. The fact that you have a first class degree doesn’t mean you’re the powder in the rolling gun. It was in the past that students could defend their big grades with brilliant minds and get into the workspace to add value to it, but today, students have tried, struggled, gone through a hell of reading day and night to have a first class or even a second class lower.
For example, first class students are among the students who were taught practical classes in a book. They are part of the students who were taught by a lecturer with outdated materials. Over time, it has not been heard that any new thing has been discovered in science, meanwhile some students are aware of some inventions, development and discoveries, but because a first-class student wants to be on first class till he graduates, he has been facing his book “squarely”, neglecting the latest development and giving his time to the worship of what does not exist anymore. We also have first-class students who think about entrepreneurship to be about selling pastries, pure water, Chin-chin and underwear in class, probably these are “soft skills” to them. With the general studies that some students have passed through for four years, philosophy of reasoning, logical context and entrepreneurial intelligence are still lost in their abilities.
Also, “multiple stakeholders have established that the most employable graduates are those who have a broad-based experience, and are able to sell their own personal identity, brand and profile; transferable skills and a broad-based student experience are more important than the particular discipline of study for impacting employability.” A lot of things have to be criticized and driven to the participants’ direction. In this welcome address of the Vice-Chancellor, it is obvious that the revelation of every genesis is that those who have “broad-based experience” and are able to “sell their own personal identity” are the most employable graduates. This is an open challenge to students who come to school but have no reason for studying what they do. Also, it can only be justifiable for a student with a first class degree if he has these characteristics sandwiched into his grades. The society is not based on a cheap first class of this century but how you can help it from drowning in the hand of the thoughtless. Without the ability to identify one’s self, selling one’s identity is a mirage and a journey impossible. So, is it not better that while on second class lower, one is productive throughout his campus life and has also proffer solution to even develop himself for the future ordeal, acceptance and success?
This is not to encourage students to continue swimming in hopeless grade points. It is very important to have good grades so that the society will not be doubtful of one’s ability. Any student that is yet to discover his ability should make sure that he is building something for his future. It is only prodding when a grade point is developed along with a gallant know-how, either soft or hard skills. Many graduates today, who are making waves in the society, have below 10% of first-class students among them. First class students, as observed so far, come back to school after graduation for the master’s degree program: many of them lament that there is no job ‘outside’ while some say they are feeling lonely at home. This shows how productive they are to the society. What should be of a first class graduate whom the society has given what he wants but does not have the intelligence to give the society a top-grade fruit?
Let me conclude with an extraction from T.D Jakes’s “repositioning yourself” that it is an undeniable truth that one year from now, your life will be better or it will be worse, but it won’t be the same. No matter where each of us starts out on the socioeconomic scale, we all have the potential for prosperous and fulfilling lives if we take responsibilities for our own success. Now as never before, there is a door open to you. It is your time to walk through it.
Adedokun Seyi is a student of University of Ibadan and campus journalist.
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