Tens of thousands of Nigerian students may spend extra year in specialized institutions after graduation to make them employable.
The Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, put forward the proposal at the ongoing Retreat for Governing Councils of Nigerian Federal Universities, organized by the National Universities Commission (NUC) with the theme, “Elements of Statutory Governance, Procurement and Financial Accounting in Nigerian Universities.”
He said the suggestion was being made because many university graduates were not good enough to be employed by industries. “Law students attend Law School for one year before going for NYSC and medical students go for one year Houseman ship before they are allowed to practice fully, so it will be necessary for other courses to also go through this process,” Mr Anwukah said.
“The Lagos Business School can also serve as a one year after-school training,” he added. “The universities are producing products that are not matching the needs of the industries. I urged the Committee of Pro-chancellors and Committee of Vice-Chancellor to end the decline in the standard of education,” he said.
“The SIWES projects introduced for a year industrial attachment for students has failed in the universities. It is not doing its role in bridging the gap between the universities and the industries,” he said. He said that re-schooling would serve as a training ground for graduates to be well equipped on the rudiments of the course studied.
In his address, the Chairman of NUC board, Prof. Ayo Banjo, said the quality of Nigerian universities product failed due to poor quality research, saying, a graduate who cannot think properly is unworthy of the certification. While calling for adequate funding to enable the universities fulfil its mandate, he said the presence of government subventions must be felt and visible in the Nigerian universities to meet and achieve excellence.
Prof Banjo, however urged the Nigerian varsities to open their doors to West African students to help them boost their revenue and also consider additional reform of the curriculum to help produce excellent graduates. The Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed said the fundamental problems facing the university system are poor leadership, general underperformance and inadequate teaching and learning environment.
He said the consequence of poor leadership had undermined the capacity of universities in achieving its mandate. According to him, the NUC in collaboration with CPC and CVC decided to organise the retreat for the governing council of all 42 federal universities to provide solutions to the problems confronting the universities system.
He therefore urged participants to remain focus in the deliberations and better equip themselves with proper leadership to move the universities forward. According to the Minister, “We are trying to sell an idea, the proposal is to get into our university system the re-schooling concept, that is you finish your university degree may be add one more year as a finishing school project, I don’t know how it is going to sell … but the idea has come as a result of the failure of SIWES system in the universities.
“We try to address the relationship between the universities, the industries and the graduates, how they can fit in and we introduced the SIWES project and it is not working and it is not providing that bridge between the industries because the most industries are unwilling to accept most students on the SIWES programme.
“We want to brainstorm and see whether we can add one additional year so that when a student finishes from the university he can now go out to industries for one year internship for that job. For instance, the law department had one extra year after the law programme they go to law school, doctors go for one additional year.
“Are we going to continue with the SIWESS experiment which is not working or we are going to brace up to introduce an additional year of re-school whereby you spend that one year in any industry. For instance, the Lagos Business School can serve as one year learning experience for students in business, accountancy and others, the NTA school in Jos can handle that of journalists
Reacting to the development, Professor of Developmental Education, University of Abuja, Prof Salisu Ingawa said that is not the solution and it may never work. “Who is going to do it, it is capital intensive, how long will it take to come to practice? So all these graduates will be waiting till such institutions are set so that they can get employed,” he said.
He pointed out that the proposed Technology Village which has not been developed should have been able to address such challenge. “That is why the industries are crying out that graduates of Nigeria are of no value to them because when they employ them they have to retrain them at a very high cost.
He noted that the synergy between the producers of manpower and the end users is not there, saying, “even if they send them for that one year, who will make the input of the content of what these graduates will be doing in the institutions or whatever he calls it, and who is going to pay for the services there, is it the employer?”
According to him, over 50 per cent of the graduates are employed by the public sector, adding that it. “It should be the smallest sector, ie the private sector is the largest employer but in Nigeria the private sector is narrowing by the day because the ease of doing business in Nigeria is very difficult.”
He however said the immediate solution is partnership with the industries which is the end user. He called for review of curriculum of universities because knowledge is dynamic and changing by seconds. A professor of communication at Bayero University Kano, (BUK) Prof Umaru Pate said it might be difficult but that, it is ideal but the implementation is going to be problematic. Prof Pate said the industries to absolve the graduate when they come may not be readily available and that could mean that the candidates would have to line up for them to be absolved.
He said: “The availability of the supervisors to be taken to the industries is yet another issue and who will pay for their participation in the system because right now some SIWES that some of the departments participate in are experiencing some challenges or do you expect the students to also raise the money or the government to start another NYSC, so the issue of finance is a problem.”
On the solution , he said one probable way of doing it is to encourage the various departments especially those professionally inclined to strengthen their industrial attachment and that could mean separating the attachment maybe from 100 level to say 300 level to spend three months in the industry and the rest of the period in the school.
The Dean, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Prof Nasiru Idris said the proposal is not something new. “You may wish to know that, already Environmental courses, engineering courses, medical courses are all running five year programmes and also, all courses in the Universities of Technology in Nigeria are 5 years programmes and the reason for this is to compliment theories with practice,” he said.
“In developed countries, degree programs are 3 years and they produce the best with no even the so called industrial attachment. Furthermore, government should declare state of emergency in the education sector.” he added.