Various initiatives, huge sums of money are spent to help encourage the youth in both developing and developed countries to wholeheartedly give their best when it comes to talent development, labor market satisfaction which is an overall essential commodity necessary for the development of every sovereign state or country. It is known that in developed countries like the USA,UK and the likes, National Service has contributed so much to their economy and general productivity having such as part of a workforce. Several African countries like Nigeria and others have also benefited from the National Youth Service Corps and other national service schemes.
Ghana is of no exception when it comes to countries that has benefited from the scheme, but I strongly believe that the scheme has outlived its usefulness given the discussions below. The NSS has been in existence since 1973. It is believed that during those times, more labour was needed to develop various sectors of the economy, in view of that, NSS was introduced as a way of getting something in return from graduates. Many graduates from different sectors were made to sign a bond that will provide the assurance they will at least be available to work within a specific time frame, usually five years.
Every year, young innocent graduates after a successful graduation from accredited institutions are made to enroll on a mandatory one year service scheme as a way of paying back to society. Some of these professions require licenses before enrollment and some, none is required. Many have argued that the actual objective which seeks to ingrain into the youth a kindred spirit of patriotism and belief in the dignity of legitimate labor is vague. Establishing such case, methinks that graduates enrollment on the NSS should be made voluntarily, that is when we can only say they are serving their nation which will not be seen as a requirement for employment. Free of threats and denial of other important positions. The actual requirement for every work is the skill required and to some extent a certificate or license to prove that the applicant has indeed received a certain form of training in the sought after field by employers. How then has that requirement changed to NSS Certificate? It’s absurd.
In most cases, the main objective given for the NSS is to provide a second hand on the job training for graduates or developed skilled manpower through practical training. This is very ridiculous, given some personnel’s can be sent or posted to a job a market which is in no relation to their programme of study. Let’s be appreciative to the marine engineering graduate who responded to a national service call to teach junior high school students in a specific village. With this, how can we then say we are helping these graduates to gain experience on the job training?
The plight of NSS personnel’s does speak of nothing but negligence on the part of the Scheme. These innocent graduates are made to work rigorously just like full time workers only to bawl out for payment of their work done which is very well known as allowance. Personnel’s are made to wait for months before payment of their allowance which to some, their only source of income at a time. Why should this happen when it is deemed a national call? This has led to habits of regular absenteeism and insubordination which are now synonymous with most service personnel. The rumour persists that some personnel connive with their instructors in staying away from places of posting for reasons of attending to more profitable ventures.
As captured in the press release, dated 25 April 2020 on the official NSS website, over 110,000 graduates will begin their mandatory NSS for the 2020/2021 year. Considering the amount spent on the scheme yearly, it is enough to provide permanent employment for graduates in their various fields. Instead, the scheme has clouded the reality on ground which is ‘unemployment’.
There are so many unemployed graduates who are done with their NSS in their respective fields, all because the NSS served as a temporal work which prevented them for finding work for themselves or wait for government’s employment. After NSS, graduates may have to apply and wait for another year or more before they can employed by the government. This, I believe the NSS is completely needless in this time considering the number of unemployed graduates who are done with the service. The best and only solution is by finding a way to reduce it and not by adding some on top of it.
The NSS should be seen or made as an entry level employment, with which after that, personnel’s will have employment without delaying for some time without work. Lack of continue practice in a field can make one rusty hence it will be unwise to make personnel’s wait in the house after NSS without knowing when they will be employed. Many have waited for years and others are still in waiting. Considering the time personnel’s wait before being posted, most may find problems dealing with current trends and norms relating to their field or work. Generally speaking, Human beings are not willing to step out of their comfort zone and learn any other skill unless it’s so crucial.
Again, another sensitive issue that beats my thought is the differential amount paid to these personnel’s in their various work. The National Service Scheme operates under the Act of Parliament – Act 426 (of 1980) meaning the scheme runs under one umbrella and that all personnel’s will be treated the same irrespective of their field of work. The Act mandates the Scheme to mobilize and deploy “any person to whom the scheme applies to be engaged, full time, in any of the following fields :
Agriculture, Co-operatives, Education, Health, Local Government, Military, Rural Development, including surveying, physical planning, civil engineering and rural industries, Youth programmes, and any other field that the board may prescribe from time to time. This Act as applied in the various fields should produce same treatment for all personnel’s, but it is ambivalent how some personnel’s receive higher allowance than their colleagues, provided they operate under one Act which again involves all the sectors.
A typical example is the allowance paid to nurse’s serving under the scheme. As of November 2020, Diploma nurse interns do receive a far higher amount than their colleagues, Degree nurse interns monthly. Various attempts have been made to curb this inequality but have proved futile. Many have pointed out the difference is as a result of the sector these two categories operate from. It is said that the Nursing Training Colleges are under the Ministry of Health and the University Nurses are under the Ministry of Education, which in itself makes no sense. Already, the Act makes it clear that the scheme will mobilize and deploy persons under various fields which include the Education and Health sectors as well. As at November 2020, a Diploma nurse intern receives 840 cedis while a Degree Nurse intern receives 559 cedis as allowance for the month with no difference in the scope of work or practice. With such differential treatment, how can we say the affected personnel’s are giving their utmost best in service provision?
Again, according to the (Act), personnel’s can be posted to private companies of which the companies will pay a service charge equivalent to 20% of their basic service allowance monthly back to the National Service Scheme. How? My interpretation of it is that, NSS is indirectly providing cheap labor to these private companies and receiving something in return despite the allowance of personnel’s being catered for by the company, because how does this conform to the objectives provided in the Act? There is little or difference in the work done by interns and full time workers. People can even connive with employers from the private sectors to employ them as a way of skipping the actual work because after all monies are not being paid from the state’s coffers.
Graduates from accredited institutions should be deemed fit at all instances to qualify for direct employment without NSS. The NSS has made it otherwise, because, almost every employer looks out for the persons done with NSS before giving them employment, which I think is incorrect. A state accredited institution goes through a series of checks before accreditation be granted to these institutions, how then has institutional certificate changed to an NSS certificate?
If there will be something like NSS, then it should be for our friends and fellow countrymen who had their studies outside our beloved Ghana. For them, although their institutions may be accredited based on international standards but application of their studies in this environment may not be compatible so they may need it as a way of learning the culture and familiarizing or integrating themselves with the environment and scope of work. But for the citizens who have been here all along doesn’t need another year to familiarize themselves with their work. Training includes both theory and practical (internship) in their various fields. Again, it can be for those foreigners or immigrants who wish to work here on a permanent basis as a way of helping the country and not for the citizen who toiled upwards to get educated on a specific field.
With this, I strongly believe that points discussed above clearly undermine the main objectives of the NSS. I believe the NSS is now a stumbling block and as a way of denying young qualified graduates employment on a permanent basis. Many graduates are also afraid because that maybe the easiest or only way to get themselves onto the government’s payroll. In order to avoid controversies and threats of unemployment and other rejections, they conform to system which is absurd and makes no actual sense. I think, the funds used for NSS should be invested in to something that can provide job opportunities for graduates as a way of ensuring permanent employment.
The introduction NABCO has again made the NSS completely needless buttressing the points given above. There are people who are done with their NSS and have again been enrolled into the NABCO which again is a temporal employment for graduates before permanent employment. Why can’t we use the funds from the NSS to expand the NABCO to admit more graduates as a way of providing temporal employment until they have permanent employment or setting it up as an entry level job which people enrolled onto it will have employment when there are vacancies?
I find it unwise to complete NSS and apply for a job which will take almost another year or more to wait in line, while those who completed earlier can be offered a job before a graduate can get onto National Service Scheme.
This, my humble opinion ✋.
~ Victor Sagacious