On November 21, a group of University of Ibadan undergraduate students, under the auspices of the Heroes and Heroines Initiative, took a walk on some sections of Bodija Market in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, to sensitise traders on the importance of career and school choice of their children or wards.
The theme of the walk was ‘Career selection: Guide not impose’. Some of the students were holding manuals, banners and placards, some of which read: “Allow us follow our passion, not yours”, “Guide us, don’t ruin our future,” among others.
The convener of the walk, who is also a dentistry student, Samuel Oluwatobiloba, stated that the core mission of the initiative is to provide mentorship programmes for secondary school students who do not have adequate tertiary education and career information.
“We go to schools, and we engage parents through different means,” Oluwatobiloba said. “Today, we’ll be engaging parents in the market, sensitising them about the admission process. We’ve noticed that parents, out of love for their wards, tend to force them to attend tertiary institutions. In the end, their children or wards end up attending schools that aren’t accredited, and when they graduate, it’ll be as if they didn’t attend school.”
The head of activities of the initiative, who is also a law student, Oluwatobi Eniola, stated that, based on their findings, they had realised that it is mostly parents that are not learned that force careers or courses on their children, and that where to find these kind of parents are in the market.
“As students, we’ve realised that some of our colleagues actually wanted to study or do things that make them happy or things they’ve passion for,” Eniola said. “But they’ve parents and guardians that felt that their passion won’t make them successful in the long run. So, they compel them to take courses they don’t like. This’s what motivated this walk.”
It was interesting that the sensitisation took place during the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike, a time most students are at home. The General Secretary of the initiative, who is also a law student, Fehintoluwa Ogunbowale, noted that the strike and COVID-19 did not stop the walk because it was an annual programme, and nothing would stop them from carrying out a great cause like this.
“The strike and COVID-19 are not barriers since the government has allowed people to go out for their normal activities,” Ogunbowale said. “This project is part of what’s needed to reach out to people out there to let them know about these things because knowledge is one of the tools to fight oppression.”
As the walk was going on, Oluwatobiloba lamented that each time they organised career programmes, and invite parents and market people, they seldom attended. “So, this’s why we’re taking the conversation to their workplace,” he added.
About language differences, Oluwatobiloba said he understood the peculiarity in language barrier because of the kind of people they were dealing with. But he noted that many of them were Yoruba and some of them could speak some other languages as well.
Some of the traders expressed gratitude to the students and commended them for the work they were doing. They accepted the manuals from the students and promised to go through it.
The manuals were sponsored by Peace First. They contained some tertiary institution courses and career nuggets that could guide parents and students on the right path to career selection and mentorship. The manuals also contained recent admission cut-off marks of some institutions and also how to calculate the cut-off marks.
The manuals recommended that parents should: Identify the inherent talents in their wards; guide their wards against peer pressure that could make them make the wrong decision; and organise familiarisation sessions with their wards.
Oluwatobiloba stressed that one of the challenges they face in their line of work is parents, especially those that are not educated. He noted that, most times, when a parent forces a course or a career on their ward, the ward ends up sad and unfulfilled. “We see a lot of them on campus. These erroneous decisions might lead to depression. So, this’s what we’re trying to fight,” he said
Eniola noted that many parents or guardians who are learned might have observed these problems they were trying to address. She admonished parents to advice their wards on the right career to choose, and not compel them to accept the ones they choose for their wards. “When students are compelled to do things, they don’t succeed at them. Be good in whatever you want to do because when challenges set in, passion is what’ll keep you going,” she added.
The University of Ibadan chapter of Junior Chamber International (JCI) was one of the partners of the event. Representing JCI at the event, Raji Abdulah commended the initiative for organising the sensitisation walk, adding that this type of programme was one of the core principles of JCI, which is service to humanity. “This’s our way of giving back to the society. I believe this step we’ve taken will contribute in a good way to the cause of today,” he said.
The university’s chapter of the Rotaract Club also partnered with the initiative. The representative of Rotaract at the event, Opeyemi-Rufus Ogundele, noted that the walk was a step in the right direction, which would help parents and their children make informed choices as regards the career they want to pursue. “Rotaract believes in investing in humanity. I know our effort towards this walk will yield good results,” he said.
At the end of the walk, Fehintoluwa Ogunbowale pleaded with ASUU and the federal government to resolve their differences and call off the eight-month strike.
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