As Nigerians, I believe one of the most difficult phases in our lives is trying to choose a career path and I speak for more than half of Nigerians when I say we aren’t doing courses that reflect our beliefs and personalities. Hear me out
Career choices are usually one of the most important decisions of our lives as individuals, but a lot of factors are involved in choosing a career part. A lot of people succumb to pressure from home, fear of poverty, and the already closed mentality of the superiority of one course over the other.
The problem of a course being seemingly valuable and a course not being worth it in every African home has its origin traced to our primary school days when we would be asked to dress up to represent various professions. Parents dress up their kids as lawyers, doctors, accountants, and engineers and we walk in our various outfits with pride. Exuding an aura of confidence as we call ourselves doctors and lawyers.
A child who’s dressed as a mechanic is sidelined and mocked for daring to be the different one. It doesn’t end there, the build-up of a mere parade day turns into a reality. A student desires to study chemistry and it’s time to pick the course but it’s met with vehement objections as to why the course isn’t profitable, doesn’t speak highly, and a million reasons why it’s not advisable to do such a course.
The university and how to choose a career path
At the university level, the admission portal is filled with students bidding for courses because their parents chose that part for them or students who aren’t bold enough to speak up and say I do not want to study medicine, I want to study physics. Now it’s the responsibility of the school to shortlist students.
There’s no way over 5,000 students applying for medicine and law would be admitted. The school gives them courses with less number of students.
A typical African mother goes “God forbid my child studies performing art and becomes an actress. What will you do with that degree? What will I tell my friends my child is studying? Do you want to open your body and take up nonsense roles in movies? Is that what you want to do with your life? You won’t have a stable home if you go into the movie industry” there are so much wrong takes.
Is this really how the life of an African child is meant to be? Don’t dream as long as your dreams don’t align with that of your parents and society. Do you want to study literature in school? And do what with it after? This is the plight of an African child who dares to dream of taking a different career part, there’s no support or freedom.
Students that dare to study what they want have their efforts reduced and are treated with a lack of respect. There’s the common question ‘what are you studying?’ And then after that comes, ‘In Nigeria? Why are you doing such a course? It won’t sell.’ When students complain about how stressful performing art is, there are negative comments such as “What if you were doing law”. It’s a trend that doesn’t seem likely to end soon. The wrong idea is that one course is more tangible and valuable than another.
It’s logically impossible that everyone should intend to become lawyers or doctors, as this would greatly negatively affect society. Imagine every student is actually allowed to study law, engineering, and medicine. All we are going to have will be those workers in that field. Where should a teacher come from? A lecturer? A paint producer? An artist? A medical laboratory scientist? All of the people have valuable contributions to the economic and societal growth of the country.
There’s the need to be kinder to people as regards their career choices. Allow people to study what they’re truly interested in. Forcing students to study a course they have zero interest in not only breeds unqualified professionals who aren’t interested in their jobs but is also a root course of failure and lack of disinterest in the educational system. If you don’t know what a course is about, try to learn.
See things from a whole different perspective that’s different from that of our parents. A whole generation is going to be raised and it would be fundamentally wrong to allow them to show up in the same manner that society defined career greatness for us. So the next time there’s another career parade in school, let the kids dress up as the characters they love and believe in. Let those lines be filled with a representation of careers from all walks of life.
Let the myth of the superiority of a course over the other end with this next generation.
Allow them to be who they want to be