National crisis unfolds as Sierra Leone’s jobless graduates struggle to find hope  

Mackie M Jalloh: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 May 2024:

In the heart of Sierra Leone, April has dawned not as a month of celebration, but as a stark reminder of the growing crisis facing the nation’s graduates. With mortarboards tossed in the air and diplomas in hand, more than 30,000 students have crossed the threshold into the uncertain realm of post-graduation life.

Yet, as the ceremonies fade and the confetti settles, the pressing question looms larger than ever: what awaits these hopeful graduates in a country plagued by unemployment and economic instability?

Sierra Leone’s academic history is a tapestry woven with threads of resilience and struggle. Decades of civil unrest and political instability have left scars on the nation’s education system, hindering its ability to provide quality opportunities for its youth. While efforts have been made to rebuild and revitalize, the echoes of past hardships reverberate through the halls of its universities and colleges.

As the latest cohort of graduates emerges into the job market, they are met with a harsh reality: opportunities are scarce, and competition is fierce. Despite their years of dedication and hard work, many find themselves adrift in a sea of uncertainty, grappling with the daunting prospect of unemployment.

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), once envisioned as a pathway to empower and mobilize young graduates, now stands as a symbol of disillusionment for many. With limited resources and opportunities, it struggles to fulfil its mandate of providing meaningful engagement for graduates transitioning into the workforce. Instead, it has become a bureaucratic maze, trapping young minds in a cycle of frustration and despair.

Amidst this turmoil, questions abound. How will the government address the staggering unemployment rates plaguing the nation? What provisions have been made for the thousands of graduates left languishing on the sidelines of society? And perhaps most importantly, is meritocracy merely a façade in a country where nepotism and favouritism reign supreme?

Critics argue that the government’s response thus far has been woefully inadequate, with promises of job creation failing to materialize into tangible opportunities for the youth. While initiatives such as the National Employment Program offer glimmers of hope, they are often overshadowed by corruption and inefficiency, leaving many graduates disillusioned and disheartened.

Furthermore, the issue of ageism in the workforce exacerbates the plight of young graduates, as they find themselves competing for limited opportunities against a backdrop of entrenched seniority. While some argue that older workers bring valuable experience and wisdom to the table, others question the fairness of a system that prioritizes age over merit.

In the face of these challenges, many graduates have been forced to seek alternative means of survival, turning to informal sectors such as petty trading and transportation to make ends meet. Yet, these endeavours offer little in the way of stability or upward mobility, trapping young minds in a cycle of poverty and desperation.

As Sierra Leone grapples with the harsh realities of its graduate crisis, the path forward remains uncertain. While systemic change is needed to address the root causes of unemployment and economic instability, it will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders – government, civil society, and the private sector – to chart a course towards a brighter future for the nation’s youth.

In the end, the fate of Sierra Leone’s graduates hangs in the balance, a testament to the challenges facing a nation striving to overcome its past and embrace a more hopeful tomorrow.

Until meaningful action is taken to address the systemic barriers to opportunity, the spectre of unemployment will continue to cast a long shadow over the aspirations of a generation longing for a way out of abject poverty.


1 Comment

  1. Current Sierra Leone’s PAOPA-SLPP standards of ethical management and administration continues worse than APC’s! Both do not appreciate that over-reliance on taxation and our bloated and corrupt public sector will not reduce unemployment. Continuing incompatibilities with private sector growths uneconomically sabotages such investments. These combine to explain why some civil, public, and other government servants will continue to endure unpaid salaries! This is an evil scandal!

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