In Nigeria, university degrees can lead to poverty

4/2/2015
Financial Times This is Africa

Christiana Ubah left school at 17 without prospects for further education, let alone a job. Born in the Lagos slum of Ajegunle, she had completed secondary school but could not afford further studies.

But she was willing to learn; she had enthusiasm and a determined attitude. After a three-week employability skills training programme, she was placed in a retail sales job. She went on to manage the opening of the shoe store and then managed the store full-time. One opportunity led to the next and today she is not only an office manager at a real estate law firm but is studying real estate management part-time.

Unfortunately, this is not the norm in Nigeria, where inflated university degrees are all too often locking disadvantaged young people into cycles of poverty and underemployment.

Christiana’s case demonstrates the adage that a young person with a good attitude can be extremely successful even if they do not have a bachelor’s degree. She was hired for attitude — coachability, motivation, emotional intelligence — and trained for skills.

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