Ibrahim took the only cloth he had and left the house that morning, without breakfast and without a shower. He left with nothing.
He didn’t think of where he was going because he already knew that. On his way, he passed many children going to school, he didn’t envy them, and he didn’t even think about them, he just went ahead towards the mechanic village at Oyingbo.
The mechanic village had been his home for as long as he could remember. His father was a mechanic. Ibrahim grew up in the mechanic village. He was always there with his father.
And now, Ibrahim is 14 years old, and the only life he has ever known is the life of a mechanic.
Ibrahim is not alone; there is Shina who is 9 years old. There is Kunle who is 10. There is Wilfred who is 12. There is Emeka, 15, and there is Wale, 12. And they all have one thing in common. They are all children-mechanic.
Childhood is a very exciting age. It is an age when you have no fear and adventure has no risk. It is the formative age. You can do anything and get away with it after all you are just a child. It’s fun. But what if you spend your childhood as a mechanic? Would it be that fun?
A visit to any mechanic workshop in Lagos will bring you face to face with these children, barely 15 years old running around the workshop and answering to the older mechanics who send them to bring this or that tool. And you cannot help but wonder where their parents are, why are they not in school, what can they even do in the car, and why mechanic for that matter?
Some of the children who spoke to Autosage Nigeria said they go to school, meanwhile, they cannot express themselves in English. They can only speak Yoruba fluently, and a little bit of Pidgin English.
When I spoke to Ibrahim, he said; “I go school. Sometimes, in the week, three times. I am in SS2 class.” He added that he would like to be a mechanic when he grows up and that he likes the job.
I cannot pretend to shut my eyes totally from the realities of the Nigerian society. There is poverty in Nigeria and we know it. There is hunger in this land that people live below one dollar per day in Nigeria. Even here in Lagos, people are suffering so much they have no food to eat for days. This is true.
So, for those people, education is not a priority neither is anything above daily survival. And for their children, childhood is not fun. They could end up as children mechanics.
UNICEF puts the number of out of school children in Nigeria to 10.5 million. That was in 2014 and four years later, the president Buhari led administration says they have reduced the number to 8.7 million children. Whether it is true or not, we know that out of school children are everywhere in Nigeria. And some of them have ended up as children mechanics.
However, let us turn this argument to a more positive side. How can Ibrahim and his co-child mechanics not end up as depraved members of the society?
The answer is simple.
“There is the need for organised and balanced skills acquisition that includes the right amount of education at the right time. Children under the age of 18 training to be auto technicians is not wrong, but it becomes evil if they sacrifice education for this skill.
“At the end of the day, they would not be able to communicate properly and therefore would not fit into the future scheme,” said Kayode, a car owner, who came to fix his car at the mechanic workshop.
He added: “The point is that nothing can replace child education, not even technical skills like an auto technician. The cars of tomorrow are too smart and will continue to be too smart for anyone who is not educated let alone for someone who is not literate.
“So that these children might end up much confused and unable to fix cars when today’s cars have vanished. Even today, most roadside mechanics cannot attempt to fix some complex issues in today’s cars. So is it not the same limited knowledge they are teaching these children.”
Also Read: [url]Revealed: 4 Reasons Why Your Car Consumes A Lot Of Fuel[https://autosage.ng/revealed-reasons-car-consumes-fuel/]
Some people argue that in some other developed countries such as China, children are already tech-savvy by 15 years of age.
But this comparison could be very inappropriate. The reasons are that in a country like Nigeria, things are completely different and are still at a very basic level.
Let’s take language for instance. The official language in those countries always happens to be their main language of communication. So these children go to school to acquire skills and other knowledge. And these things are done in school and not outside of school.
Again, Communication is no longer their problem. Language is no longer a barrier.
But here in Nigeria, if Ibrahim cannot speak English, his association will be very limited. And no matter what he knows his world will be very limited.
And Ibrahim would not be able to operate a computer, and the cars of now are built into a computer. Majority of the cases in cars today cannot be attempted without proper diagnoses with a computer. This goes to buttress a point that nothing can replace a child’s education.
To conclude, to reduce the rapid unemployment rate in the country, skills acquisition is the key. Every human being in this country should know how to solve one problem. But we cannot rob Peter to pay Paul.
When you deny a child the right to acquire a basic education, primary and secondary, you have denied him the right to live in this society peacefully and to contribute meaningfully to it. This is a digital age, and quality basic education is the best tool a child can acquire while growing up as he acquires any other skills.