Has the national service scheme outlived its usefulness?
National Service Secretariat was formed in 1973 since which time it has formulated and managed service programmes for tertiary students to serve a mandatory 1 year service. Service personnel get paid a small allowance during the term of their service. Can the 11 month service time be put to better use by new graduates? Are you a service personnel, or have you gone through it recently? If yes, tell us how you feel about it and how to modernize the scheme.
On the upside the scheme is a model to transition new graduates into the workforce, which is great. As much as we don’t want a bunch of new grads just loitering aimlessly about, the scheme may be doing a disservice to the youth of this country.
First, it lowers the achievement potential and expectations students put on themselves. The scheme does little to encourage entrepreneurship. At worst, it conditions students for greater dependence on the “system” and does not help would-be graduates to think about outside-the-box opportunities.
Secondly, it does nothing to improve on the skills of graduates. The scheme hardly provides any training, and most personnel will spend time doing things that will not improve their future income earning potential. For example, a year spent learning computer programming languages after graduation will improve the employability of personnel, but such facilities are not provided. A year is a long time and the scheme can better serve graduates if for example students are allowed to serve a portion of their requirement in each of the 4 years they are in college ie Long vacation one – 3 months service, long vacation two – another 3-months service etc. Making the service term flexible will greatly improve the efficiency and payoff in terms of time use.