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COVID-19: Students Explore New Prospects Amidst Shutdown Of Schools

Struck by the shutdown of schools due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, some Nigerian students embarked on new endeavours, pursued abandoned passions in a bid to utilise this newly found free time. 

While admitting that the shutdown of schools has affected their academic schedule, some students who spoke with this reporter admitted that it has, on the other hand, served as a blessing by exposing them to new opportunities. Such opportunities include intellectual development, acquisition of new skills, entrepreneurial engagements and more.

Sulyman Abdulkabir a 400 level student of the University of Ilorin is one of them. He had been home since March. The shutdown has hindered him from completing his 400 level first-semester examination. 

Abdulkabir had a love for barbing since his primary school days. But he stepped down the passion to allow him to concentrate on his studies. The shutdown of schools, however, provided him with an opportunity to master the profession and now he has an ambition of establishing a haircut shop.

The period according to him has helped him discover his potentials, exposed him to new realities, and motivated him to acquire extra skills.

“Immediately after school, I am starting my business on a full scale. School is even caging my potentials, but I believe everything is all about time,” he told CAMPUS REPORTER.

Acquisition of New Skills

Some of the students who spoke with this reporter shared how the period provided them with opportunities to acquire new digital skills like photography, graphic designing, and online marketing. Others took to vocational skills like Baking and Fashion Designing

Hamidu Muhammad Dabban, a 400level student of Chemistry Education at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto said, he has used the moment to learn about digital marketing, and he has earned a lot from the skill. 

“I have acquired new 21st century skills like graphic design, digital marketing, mobile photography, cartoon animation, lots of do-it-yourself skills, and many more. It has made me a better person for the entrepreneurship world. Some of these skills I pay for before but now I am paid for it,” Amidu said, proud of his new achievements.

Like Hamidu, Abdulrazaq Olamide Ismail, a 200 level student of Mathematics and Statistics at the Federal University Of Technology, Minna enrolled himself in graphic designing and programming some days after he came back from school due to the shutdown. His newly acquired skills have now made him self-employed and also relevant in the digital world.

“Due to the technology age that we are now, computerized work is really growing. 

It also enhances self-research too and other things. It is very remarkable to acquire those skills, it makes me realize that as an academic student, it is not bad to have extra skills.”

For Jamiu Abdulqodir, a student of Kwara State Polytechnic, the shutdown provided an opportunity to learn more about programming. In the course of learning, he became a recipient of a brand-new laptop from a foundation providing support for young people acquiring digital skills.

“During the lockdown, they organised a program that enables students to apply for a “Free Three Months Pro Subscription” to make the lockdown period a productive one for students. I applied and was selected for the program. Through the program, I got a laptop to practice. It also makes it easier to make good use of the Codecademy subscription.”

Hussein Abdulbasit told CAMPUS REPORTER that his passion lies in public speaking and newscasting. He said the period has enabled him to improve his oratory proficiency. He volunteered as an intern at University Ilorin FM and is currently doing the same thing at the Kwara Broadcasting Commission. He also took the time to participate in a series of spoken word competitions and panel discussions, all of which have contributed immensely to his oratory skills.

Venturing into Entrepreneurial Horizons

For some students with special interests in business, the shutdown period was an opportunity to advance their business and entrepreneurial interests.

Kothari Abdulazeez is a 400level student of Usmanu Danfodiyo University but she is also the CEO of Kauthar confectionery cake. She told this reporter that the past five months spent at home allowed her to focus on her baking business, which has recorded some growth.

“My business is growing now, thanks to COVID-19! And I’m also able to learn what I do not know before and the ones that I know I get the time to put it into practice. I also have the opportunity to learn and interact with other experts in this business and I learn a lot from them.”

She explained that the shutdown of schools has increased the number of people who wish to learn baking, and this enables her to organise and co-organise trainings which people can pay for.

“I have lots of students now, different classes, different categories, you know people are at home now, and they really want to learn.

Before, when we charged people they used to run away, but they have now realized the value of it. Now we used to charge people at the range of at least N5000 to N50,000 depending on what you want to learn.”

She, however, advised the students to see beyond school and acquire a skill that will allow them to be self-employed.

“My advice for students is not to rely on academic qualifications only. School is good, but it’s good to have a side hustle apart from just book and book, they should learn other skills, white-collar jobs are hard to get these days.”

Despite being a medical student, Olushina Oludeji, a 300 level student of Medicine at Ladoke Akintola University said he has delved into animal farming and rabbit meat processing. He said the shutdown has fostered the growth of his business and allowed him to practise certain things that have only been in his mind.

“The shutdown of schools, mainly, has helped me do more of execution and less of ideation. I have been able to do the things I had in my head before schools closed. Basically, I engage in animal farming and rabbit meat processing, I sell rabbit meat in life, semi-processed, and fully processed forms.”

He, however, advised the students to invest in themselves and become self-employed.

The shutdown of Schools: An Embodiment of Numerous Opportunities for Students — Youth Advocate 

The Executive Director of Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative, Abideen Olasupo Opeyemi, in an interview with the reporter, advised students to maximise the break to engage in things that are beneficial to their lives and society.

Abideen explained that as there are no certain dates yet stipulated for students’ resumption, it is important for them to learn any skill that they have passion for and skills that will add value to them as graduates in the future.

“The compulsory holiday is an opportunity for students to get those skills that they have wanted to get, an opportunity to send a pitch email to the person at their junctions who do something they are interested in and may want to learn.”

While stressing the need to maximise the moment for self-development, he noted that it is also an opportunity to contribute to society and the nation in general through acts of volunteering. 

He advised students to acquire and become certified in skills like emotional intelligence, leadership, communication, human interpersonal skills, and a few digital skills. 

“These are the skills that you will need as a business person and a person looking for a job in any company or organisation.”

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