The Unknown Truth About National Service
The Ghana National Service Scheme was established by an Act of parliament in accordance with the constitution of Ghana. It is mandated to provide newly qualified graduates the opportunity to have practical exposure on the job, both in the public and private sectors, and as part of their civic responsibility to the State. It is worth knowing that every citizen of Ghana of at least 18 years of age has to, by the law; partake in the national service program before engaging in any kind of economic activity within the country.
Thus, national service is not only for citizens who have gone through formal education and want government or mainstream employment. In fact, if there was strict adherence to the mandate of the scheme, it would have been better understood than it is now. For example areas of concentration for the scheme include agriculture, cooperatives, education, health, local government, rural development, youth programs and a compulsory military training for each service personnel. Yes, a compulsory military training for every 18 year old citizen of Ghana; before being posted to any other field.
However, the scheme seems to be focusing on graduates of formal education only. This has led to certain beliefs and misconception about who must really do national service. A typical argument is whether graduates from private institutions should be required to do national service. The argument is that they do not enjoy government subventions; neither do they have their fees subsidized as it's the case in the public institutions. Well, what the law says is that every Ghanaian citizen of 18 years old must register for national service; even if you schooled abroad.The only exemption noteworthy is that one can defer national service to pursue higher education, but must certainly to do it after completing his/her studies.
Embarking on national service can come with a lot of anxiety and uncertainties for many. But it can also be very exciting for others. It very much depends on the individual and a few other factors. While some may worry about unknown places they may be randomly posted, others love the adventure of seeing new places and travelling and are rather willing to be posted to places unknown to them yet. Some see the service period as an opportunity to simulate life on their own, while others see it as a scary, lonely period away from family and friends. It is therefore important to get the proper orientation among other things including family support, counselling and National Service Secretariat seminars to be organized by the SRC of each institution.
Contrary to the belief that the national service is only effective for those who are “lucky” to be posted to their field of study, it must be understood that most successful people in life, if not all, have had experience in at least two unrelated jobs. If you studied accounting but find yourself in a primary school teaching English Language, it is an opportunity for you to sharpen your skills in grasping new ideas and also practice public speaking. These are skills that will be invaluable to your personal development and career in later life.
That said, national service is certainly going to be the first work experience for many people. So wherever you find yourself, whatever field it is, you must embrace the moment and make the best out of the situation. After all, the NSS is just an exposure to work life, if not your civic responsibility. You must be diligent enough to gather the needed experience. And this requires self-discipline.
Let me emphasize that if you find yourself in an established private organization, it is likely they have a full workforce and that you shall become complimentary. That should be a good environment to learn whilst not much responsibility is expected of you. On the other hand, most government organizations will expect you to take up a full time role. This can be difficult and frustrating for a fresh-out-of-school graduate. If you find yourself in this situation, you need the humility to learn from colleagues, superiors and even subordinates. Ask and seek clarification for what you don’t know. There is no shame in doing this even if you hold a PhD.
National service can be fun if you find yourself among a group of national service personnel working together in a particular office, department, or an organization. But just don’t join the jolly ride; maintain your focus, take your work serious and understand that it might launch your career!
Credit: collegemag.net (This article was done by me and published on collegemag.net website)