Learning all about Nigeria’s NYSC program

giving backIf you’re a Nigerian who moved from home when you were very little, only goes back to Nigeria to visit families, and is now a citizen of another country, chances are you haven’t done the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Heck, I’ve only heard about it in passing and people referencing it in jokes. I didn’t know much about NYSC until today.

I was on Linda Ikeji’s blog and she had a post that Oya, a bus-ticketing agency, has expanded its list of buses that deliver NYSC members from Lagos directly to different camp locations across the country. Linda’s post made we want to dig up all the information I could about NYSC, something I’ve heard bits and pieces about for a while.

For those Nigerians abroad who have no idea what the program is and how it works, this is the gist.

NYSC is a federal program that was created in 1973 “to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war.” The program is intended to teach Nigerian youth the spirit of collective responsibility, selfless service to the community, and unity (regardless of cultural or social background).

NYSC is actually a compulsory service that every Nigerian graduate participates in. It looks like it could be a fun and meaningful experience for youth according to the NYSC website (the source for info in this post).giving back

There are four parts to the service year/NYSC program:

1. Orientation Courses

The program starts off with a three-week stay at an orientation camp where youth can meet and mingle with their counterparts from different parts of the country—a chance they may not otherwise get. The orientation course includes:

  • Physical training, drills, lectures about the people and tradition of the host state, professional lectures for Corps health personnel, lawyers, teachers and skill acquisition training.
  • Social activities for Corps members so they have a chance to mingle, including competitions like dance, drama, Miss NYSC and Mr. Macho.
  • Inter-platoon competitions such as football, volleyball, table tennis, cooking and sanitation.
  • Man ‘O’ War activities, which Corps members are trained on prior to competitions on inter-platoon drills and tug of war.

2. Primary Assignment

At the end of the orientation, Corps members are posted to their place of primary assignment. I’m glad that NYSC puts great emphasis on placing Corps members in rural communities in the areas of Agriculture, Health, Education and Infrastructure. This is the part you’ll probably hear people complain about when they talk about their NYSC experience. Even when they aren’t happy about their posting, NYSC encourages all Corps members to accept their posting and be agents of change contributing towards the development of their host communities. I know the program is about giving youth meaningful experience and building their skills, but it’s also important to provide support to communities and areas in the country that need it the most.

3. Community Development Service

The Community Development Service (CDS) is aimed at harnessing the skills, creativity and innovativeness of Corps members. Corps members are expected to identify the needs of their host communities and mobilize those community members to support the projects. Through this program, many Corps members build bridges, health care centres, classroom blocks, market stalls, culverts and so on. They also carry out projects like HIV sensitization, adult literacy campaign, extra-mural classes for students, and road safety campaign. Corps members participate actively in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) through the War Against Poverty (WAP) program of the NYSC scheme.

4. Winding Up/Passing Out

At the end of the service year (usually at the 12th month), Corps members gather in their respective zones for an assessment of the service year and a debriefing. This last phase of the program also includes a parade for the passing out ceremony, led by the Executive Governor of the state. During the ceremony, Corps members with outstanding performance (in orientation course, primary assignment, community development service and winding up exercise) during their service year receive State Honours Award.

Another cool thing I learned about NYSC is that it collaborates with agencies across all levels (international, national, regional and local) in areas of social, economic, humanitarian and more.

This is the type of stuff I live for (which is why I did my BA in International Development Studies + Political Science). I would’ve enjoyed the NYSC program—what isn’t fun about meeting new people and experiencing a different culture/state in Nigerian while helping out in the community?

What do you think? Have you done the NYSC program? Would you participate in one if your country had a similar program?

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~ by omonaij on November 3, 2013.

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