You wake up every morning, take care of your body and do the house chores. If you have a job, you head out to face the laborious time, the insensitive Boss, the extended hours and the meagre income. An income, too meagre to face the harsh blows from utility bills, rent, tax, family requests, emergencies, and miscellaneous; an income too meagre, for savings and investment. If you have no job, you realized how infinitesimal you are. You turn on your phone or the TV and you are inundated with shameful news of the state of your country and insensitive government policies. You realize for the first time the acidic truth – either there is no hope for this country, or it will take donkey years for hope to come. You feel helpless to change the country. Time, you do not have. So, what do you do? You want to travel abroad. Hold on to that thought. Let us examine the facts.
Sadly, the environment is not enabling. The educational system in Africa as a whole is slowly degrading and suffering from what we call a ‘double crisis’. First of all, Africa’s educational system is being affected by the quantity crisis, borne out of the fact that there are simply not enough universities and tertiary institutions to take and support the continents’ growing number of students. According to Quartz Africa, there are merely 740 universities supporting 660 million students in the 10 most populous African countries resulting in a ratio of 1 university to about 890 thousand students. No wonder most African university apart from the University of Cape Town, ranks poorly in the world university rankings.
Secondly, Africa’s educational framework is constantly being degraded by quality crisis, resulting from the overall poor quality and standard of the African education system. This is caused by the use of obsolete teaching methods and curricular, inadequate learning facilities and ultimately, poor funding. Hence, increasing the level of mismatch between the skills sort by employers and skills possessed by youths. Also, resulting to the alarming rate of unemployment, which is currently 60% of Africa’s youth population. This puts the African Youth at a disadvantage, making it difficult for them to compete with their foreign counterparts.
Over the years, all these have led to a rapid increase in the trend of African Youths going abroad to seek greener pastures. With minds filled with wonderful tales from countrymen, betrayal from indigenous government, hearts filled with hopes and aspiration and spirit, filled with determination and resolve, most African youth are bent on going abroad.
Many European countries, such as Italy, Spain, France and Germany, along with many other countries such as Canada (whose visa is currently on high demand creating the present ‘Canada craze’), due to a constant increase in their average age population, a decline in birthrates and a significant drop in their labour force, welcome immigrants into their country under their own terms, but apparently, not warmly. In the beginning, African youths are filled with the excitement that their problems have gotten to their final bus-stop. They couldn’t be more wrong. First of all, Africans are hit with the huge existing cultural difference. While still trying to adjust, most find out that their educational and work credentials are not recognized, forcing them to go back to school or settle for menial jobs. With time they begin to notice the existing segregation where they are identified and differentiated by the colour of their skin and constantly seem to run into bad luck. Truth be told, some foreign countries are more receptive than others, and racism depends on the individual you meet.
Even the Duchess of Sussex, Megan, who is married to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and 6th in line of succession to the British throne, due to her mixed parentage is not spared these acts of racism. Hence, her recent decision in the heat of the crisis. Also, thousands of youths who neither have a visa nor the finance, opt for life-threatening channels. They try crossing the ocean or the desert resulting in the death of a large number. Some Africans who quit the fairest paying jobs and positions in their respective countries to chase the dream of a sweet life abroad complain at the end that they have been fed with nothing but lies. But some maintains that the situation is far better than what they face in Africa. But one general truth among both stories is that at the end, they yearn to return home. Some return permanently, some return for vacations, some cannot due to lack of finance and the shame of being a failure.
The truth is that anywhere in the world, success is achieved by hard-work, smart-work as well as persistence. Some environment, no doubt, are more enabling than others. A survivor naturally will choose a better enabling environment. But with foreign environment comes the ultimate reality of racial prejudice or at least identity/cultural crisis. This reality sometimes occurs even amongst similar identity/culture ie. Brexit, Xenophobia, Ghana-must-go, America vs Mexicans, etc.
Can we really say that the African economy will not get better anytime soon? I guess it depends on the African country. South Africa keeps improving, so too is Seychelles. Ghana is on the right map. Nigeria has not been able to get the basics right and realistic views agree that Nigeria is not getting better anytime soon.
But there are really no greener pastures. The grass is green only where you water it. African youths need to start focusing on and watering their roots. Those who persistently put on the smart and hard work now, may become better for it, as others will have to invest on a premium later. Africa is a continent with extraordinary challenges, and it is not enough to wait for the government to deal with them. Whenever you see a problem, try to solve a part of it. Solving it makes your country better and puts food on your table if you are smart about it.
Stick your hard-work, smart-work and persistence at home or abroad? The choice is yours.