Every Ghanaian, whether you studied at home or abroad, is required by law to dedicate one year of his or her life to the service of the country.
In certain parts of the world where that is also practised or their citizens are required to serve the nation for a specific period of time, such as Israel, theirs is about serving in the military.
However, for Ghana, it’s about serving in civilian governmental institutions or private enterprises, the only exception is the recent postings of National Service persons to help the Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service.
Besides that, most Ghanaians who have completed any form of tertiary education have undertaken National Service have done so in a civilian capacity.
One key benefit of national service is serving the nation after decades of continuous education, however, the National Service Secretariat (NSS) also claims that the additional benefit of the National Service programme is to help the newly qualified graduates to “enter the labour market through work in either the public or private sectors, pick business ideas, develop early contact with potential employers, reflect on career options, and acquire practical on the job training.”
This piqued our interest leaving us to wonder whether the intended post NSS benefit to Ghanaian graduates actually become a reality. Every day this week, Kuulpeeps.com has dedicated our platform to providing NSS related content for those yet to start their NSS, still doing theirs, and those who have completed theirs.
To add to the many stories we have already shared, we spoke with a few “NSS veterans” about their life now and how much of that they attribute to the one year of their lives they dedicated in service to their beloved country – Ghana, our motherland.
I don’t know how NSS has shaped the life I live now. I work in IT at a pharmaceutical company but none of that has anything to do with my NSS. I was posted to a financial service company where I was given a data entry role – nothing related to the IT degree I had. When the NSS ended, I was given a contract but a few months later I was jobless since the savings and loans company was shut down during the banking crisis.
I somehow think those who get posted to private institutions are better off than those who are sent to government agencies and ministries such as myself. I did mine in 2012 at a regional education office. After service, I was jobless. I was very lucky to secure a customer service role in a telecommunications company. Trust me, what I do now, has nothing to do with what I did during my service so there’s very little transfer of work experience to boast of.
I worked in publication during my service. I loved the job because my direct boss gave me a lot of actual work-related responsibilities. It gained me favours in my workplace and it was very obvious that I was going to be maintained after the service was over. My work was also catching the attention of a competitor and when my service was about to end, the competition to my company gave me a better offer and career track that I wanted for my career. I took the job and it has been amazing. Without NSS, I don’t know if I would have been able to get the experience I needed to even land my current job. I know it’s not an entirely popular opinion, but NSS was amazing for me.
In terms of gaining anything professionally, NSS has not done that for me. I did mine in a company that produced electricity. It was a great experience though. I wasn’t maintained but I have formed amazing relationships with very great people. Though I was not maintained, the friends I made there are the best of friends I have ever made.
The person I am today has a lot to do with the friends I made in school than my time doing NSS. Yes, I was placed in a company that did what I studied in school. I got offered a contract after NSS, another contract after the first elapsed and then finally I was given a full-time offer, however, my job plays very little role in my life. I have a very social life and one that I keep nurturing. I don’t have a lot of colleagues in my social circles so for me, it’s all my friends and cliques who are shaping the person I am today.
I, for one, have no appreciation for NSS. Look, I had an opportunity to get the hell out of this country and get away from its problems. My uncle had always said after Uni, he would make me come join him in Canada, where he is a citizen. Man, it’s all I thought of in my final year. However, getting to the end of the semester, the NSS released pins for us to do the first registration, a busy body aunt convinced my dad to let me do service before I go. As a result, my uncle put a pause on the whole thing and we agreed we will do it in the last few months to the end of the service. It’s just one year I was told. My John self agreed, three months into service, my uncle passed away and that has been the story of my life.
I did my NSS in an AD agency. It was very hectic and I want to believe that I did everything I needed to do. However, I was not maintained. It really hurt back then but after I was unable to get a good job, I started selling on Instagram. I started applying some of what I learned at the agency to manage my accounts and so far it has been well. I work for myself at my own pace. It’s not all romantic but I am leading life at my own pace.
I am currently reading a Masters programme out of the country. I have no way of funding such education so obviously, I am here on scholarship. Also, I didn’t get the scholarship by joining any study abroad agency. It was a senior colleague, who was not in my department, who helped me get the scholarship. She liked my work and I had expressed interest in going back to school so I was hoping to be maintained after NSS so that I can save for a graduate programme back home. She had a better idea. She helped me find scholarships and worked on my applications. We applied for a lot, eventually, two came through and here I am.
I had a very scary NSS. I was posted to a bank for my service. As a service person, I could almost tell something was not right but I assumed it’s part of the sector and its challenges. You know when even paying customer withdrawals were an issue. What eventually happened was that I went to work one day and we realised that our bank was shutting down. The day my branch closed was my last day doing service. Since then, I have been doing jobs here and there, nothing permanent so I am always holding my breath. Where I did my service has influenced who I am today, but not in a good way.
I don’t know if I have to credit it to NSS or the incredible people I met at the company I was posted to. Back in school, you know we learned all theories, the only thing practical we did was to find practical examples to back our theoretical points. We never actually practised what we were being taught. I also had very little idea about professional bodies and why you should join them. I learned all that during and after my service. I now know it’s very important to be a member of the professional body of your chosen profession.
Based on the responses, NSS and life after NSS have been mixed. While NSS played a positive role in who they are today, for others, it did the opposite while some of the respondents do not even think it had any impact on who they are today.
We are still curious. If you have done your service, do you think it has played a role in shaping the person you are today?
Click on the comment box below and leave us your thoughts. Thank you