Why the system should be overhauled
By Josephine Toyosi Olanrewaju
Without any equivocation, the practice of student internship has today come to stay.
According to the principles of community relations, it is expected that organizations demonstrate their corporate social responsibility by giving back to the community in which they operate. Organizations therefore cannot survive without the community goodwill. This is because it is the community that is invariably responsible for the profits that are made by that organizations even as members patronize the organizations. It is therefore expected of organizations to give back to the community since we are no more in the era of Williams Vanderbilt who was of the opinion that the public can be damned. Organizations today, know the value of the people in the community and they therefore attend to the needs of the people by providing for them in terms of employment and organizing educational programmes (e.g. Cowbell) and other activities that are geared towards improving the standard of living of the community.
For a long time now, some organizations have tended to exhibit part of their social responsibility through giving students of tertiary institutions the opportunity to obtain practical experience from their organizations in the form of student internships and this has also been in practice because it has become a necessity for students in some particular fields to obtain this practical experience known as industrial training for a period of time whereby the students won’t just be sound theoretically but also practically. However, our research findings show that this particular opportunity is in some cases now being misused.
In an interview with Ranti Adedoyin, an Oduduwa University student who is presently undergoing her industrial training, she expressed the view that: ‘industrial training is a bitter-sweet experience for most Nigerian students. For me though, it has been more of bitter than sweet. I wake up at 5:30am every day because I must get to my workplace by 7am. I leave my workplace officially by 6pm and this is my everyday schedule from Monday to Friday for 4 months. I work just like a regular staff yet I am not being paid a penny. I spend nothing less than #1000 everyday on transportation and feeding which to be honest is quite too much for a job you are not getting paid for. Though I understand the fact that the industrial training exercise is for the betterment of Nigerian students but then how can one learn when learning is made so difficult a chore?’
Oso Temilade, a Yaba College of Technology ex-student raised another point when she noted that ‘organizations tend to see interns as incompetent and due to that fact they prevent them from using a lot of their facilities. Also, the older workers tend to send the interns on unofficial errands, while some interns are overused without being paid, at least a little token, for their efforts and services.’
Another student, Bamidele Moyinoluwa remarked that indeed the challenges are many: ‘the first challenge is finding a place for the internship and the second I think is getting transport fares to go there, and of course there is equally an issue about all of the stress that is involved.’
Gpoing forward then, the consensus from the field is that a critical overhaul to address these issues needs to be undertaken. But given the current state of the Nigerian economy, how easily can this be sold?
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo