v style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: "times new roman", "new york", times, serif; line-height: normal; text-align: justify;">The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, in a recent data revealed that youth unemployment is now at 21.5 percent from 19 percent. Unemployment Rate in Nigeria averaged 9.04 percent from 2006 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 19.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 and a record low of 5.10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Based on these statistics, it therefore came as a relief to many Nigerians when the Federal Government decided to introduce three direct job creation and training schemes for youth in line with its campaign promises of job creation.
A couple of weeks ago, the federal government promised that it will start taking applications online for positions in the 500,000 direct teacher job scheme, through an internet portal named www.npower.gov.ng in what is described as the first roll out of its N500 billion social investment programmes.
President Muhammadu Buhari in his May 29 Democracy Day broadcast to the nation formally launched the social investment programmes already provided for under the 2016 Appropriation.
According to the presidency, the 500,000 teacher corps is one of the three direct job creation and training schemes of the federal government.
Others are N-Power Knowledge which will train 25,000 Nigerians in the area of technology, and N-Power Build, which train another 75,000 in the areas of building services, construction, utilities, hospitality and catering, automotive vocations, aluminum and gas services. All trainees will be paid for the duration of their training.
The Federal Government explained that N-Power Teacher Corps is a paid volunteer programme of a 2-year duration. Unemployed Nigerians selected and trained will play teaching, instructional, and advisory roles in primary, and secondary schools, agricultural extension systems across the country, public health and community education-covering civic and adult education.
Federal Government’s plan to recruit, train and deploy 500,000 teachers to public primary schools, in an effort to redress one of the drawbacks in Nigeria’s basic education subsector.
While the government's desire to keep to campaign promises of creating jobs for the teeming unemployed Nigerians is commendable, it has been argued in some quarters that a recruitment process devoid of attractive financial incentives and good housing, especially in rural areas, could experience high level of attrition in the ensuing years as the economy gets ‘better’ and jobs are created in other sectors, thus defeating the long term objectives of the scheme.
Some analysts have done a simple arithmetic on the FG's N-Power project, which Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had preached with gusto, disclosing that the expected 500,000 graduate teachers will be paid N23,000 monthly. That is about N12,300,000,000 off FG's purse!
At N23, 000 a month, the graduate is looking at N276, 000 per annum. This is exclusive of taxation and other charges. After these deductions, it may come to less than N260,000 per annum. Assuming it is tax-free, the daily earning is pegged at N776. If you spend between N300 and N400 everyday (conservative estimate) on transportation and feeding, you are left with about N11, 000 for clothing and housing plus entertainment and other incidentals including aged parents and siblings.
Now put that against someone who sells ‘Gala’ and soft drinks and makes about N2, 000 every day and won't be taxed, that brings in about N60, 000 monthly. This is about N720, 000 annually. Yet, as a FG employed graduate, it is inevitable that the family looks up to such an one more than they will tend to look at the one hawking ‘Gala’ and soft drinks by the bus park. He spends less on clothing and shoes. He pays less on transportation and feeding.
Against these backdrops, it is the opinion of this newspaper that government scales-up the monthly pay in the face of economic realities if the scheme is to succeed. It is, however, imperative to note that recruitment is just one of the key aspects of professionalization of teachers. Remuneration and retention are equally powerful stabilising factors for in-service teachers.
Government should also be flexible in the process of obtaining the application forms since majority of job seekers leave in rural areas where internet facilities are not available.