For obvious and personal reasons, people choose to work at specific places, and in different kinds of jobs.
But does the same apply when graduates are obligated to serve the nation in jobs and in places not entirely determined by them?
For a system that works, the answer is no.
However, the answer is yes to the few, and probably even the hidden majority, who are well connected to the system, and who can pull the relevant strings.
Year in year out, graduates scramble for limited space to serve at the University of Ghana. What could be the subtle motivation?
When I spoke to some service personnel on campus, they alluded to the fact that it was a better way to prepare themselves for graduate school.
Others couldn’t just afford to leave the calm, the chill, the liveliness, the friendship, the acquaintance, the overwhelming freedom of the university to an outside world that is too fast and furious for the inexperienced and the undecided.
So they would prefer to serve on the university campus, and sort themselves out to meet the vicissitudes of the outside world.
But really, is that all it takes to get motivated to serve on campus? No.
There is the economic dimension which is very unknown, but highly lucrative. “Galamsey”and its younger brother “kpakpakpa” are popular jargons among service personnel on campus.
What do they mean?
Aside from the official duties assigned to you as a national service person ( and you patriotically carry them out), you render other paid “secret services” to outsiders mostly in the field of teaching. The subjects in high demand comprise the English language and literature, Mathematics, Science and Geography.
One can obtain three galamsey links at a go.
And mostly, these classes are organised in the evenings. If, say, Forty Cedis is charged per session (2 hours) and there are three sessions a week, your arithmetic is good as mine, you earn Four Hundred and Eighty Cedis four 24 hours.
And remember, for 168 hours, National Service Secretariat pays you just Three Hundred and Fifty Cedis. The new batch of national service personnel on campus have not yet received a dime of their allowance. But some of them are comfortable because kpakpakpa is taking care of issues.
So, next time graduates pull the system’s strings to get service space on campus, don’t guess too far.