- Water-tight security in Kano •7 churches, 8 shops razed - Police
- Terror suspect nabbed with N3m •As army uncovers bomb factory
- 2012, deadliest year for journalists - UN
- Court adjourns on missing N12.4bn oil windfall
- Why we cleared Molete under-bridge - Oyo govt
- Court jails courier over $286,400 cash
- Court rejects fridge repairer’s plea to keep Ibori’s bribe money
- Oyo to involve artisans in N.5bn schools rehabilitation contracts
- All set for LG poll today in Benue
- Mrs Braithwaite buried amid encomiums
- Forget presidency, Jonathan’s aide tells ex-military rulers
- FG sends delegation to Onaiyekan’s consecration, Suntai
Why Many Graduates May Remain Unemployed
Disturbed by the rate at which graduates rely on white collar jobs instead of being self employed, EBENEZER ADUROKIYA and CHINYERE ANORUO spotlight the pros and cons of the trend vis a vis the inadequacy of the Nigerian education curricula.
When power failure suddenly occured in a room in a particular first generation university, during which some electrical gadgets were badly damaged, an electrical/electronic student was looked upon to solve the problem. He failed woefully.
Ophelia Ukperi, a student of English who experienced the scenario had to call on a roadside technician to fix the problem which was successfully done.
Ophelia is not the only one who had cause to pick unschooled electricians over university certified engineers and even graduates of other disciplines to fix one problem or the other. She is not also the only one who had questioned the trend; as often times, more people have had to query the essence of sending people to get trained in the university when, after such experience, they cannot even perform the minutest duty required of them as professionals. For many, the value of education in the country lies in the certificates and not in the knowledge garnered in the schooling process or required practical expertise.
Another similar scenerio played out recently. A National Diploma holder in Computer Science from Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Mr Jossy Ogunmola, who is still seeking admission for his Higher National Diploma, told Saturday Tribune that in 2010, his Head of Department told his students during graduation that they should not see themselves as having learnt anything, they should rather stop over at any roadside business centre and cyber cafes to actually learn the skill of operating a computer!
“Our HOD said we should not forget that we had only come to bag a certificate, so we should go and acquire computer set skills from roadside computer operators if we wanted to make anything good out of the course in future,” Ogunmola stated, adding that the students never saw a computer let alone having a computer laboratory throughout their two-year course at the institution.
A discourse between a Zambian and a European, while on board an aircraft from Europe to Africa, sheds more light on the lacuna. The European had been reported as lamenting thus; “Oh yes, it is sad I will say it again, you are lazy. Poor and uneducated Africans are the most hardworking people on earth. I saw them in the Lusaka markets and on the streets selling merchandise. I saw them in villages toiling away. I saw women on Kafue Road crushing stones for sale and I wept. I said to myself: ‘where are the Zambian intellectuals?’ Are the Zambian engineers so imperceptive that they cannot invent a simple stone crusher, or a simple water filter to purify well water for those poor villagers? Are you telling me that after 37 years of independence, your universities’ Schools of Engineering have not produced a scientist or an engineer who can make simple, small machines for mass use? What are the schools there for?”
This situation is not peculiar to Zambia as it is no doubt, an eye-opener to the near impracticability of Nigeria’s educational curricular despite several reviews and decades of its existence. Given the above situation, a sacrosanct question that arises is, to borrow Chinua Achebe’s paradigm, “where did the rains begin to beat us?”
Interestingly, the genesis of this lacuna has been attributed to various reasons. One, for some schools of thought, it has been argued that the educational structure the colonial masters left behind for Nigeria was only tailored towards servicing the colonial administrative work structure instead of making beneficiaries entrepreneurs and professionals, hence the deficiencies experienced.
Dr (Mrs.) Deborah Egunyomi, the immediate past Head of Department of Adult Education, University of Ibadan, expressed her views. According to her, “it has been like a follow follow kind of education that we have. They did not actually want to bring the profiting Western education to us in totality. If they wanted to train us to be self-sufficient and self-reliable, the kind of education they gave us should not have been the type they gave us. We started having some little changes when the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe had a better educational background because they were able to travel outside the country to obtain better education. When they came back, they now knew the difference between what we were given here and what was obtainable there and tried to implement it here.”
To another school of thought, it is not about the structure left by the Europeans as it is about the lack of man-power to run and maintain the structure left by them. “We did not have sufficiently trained tutors to run the structure,” they said. A pointer to this is the failure to achieve the goals behind the establishment of the technical and vocational schools that were geared towards guaranteeing the self-sustenance of both school leavers and graduates alike.
The late Professor Babatunde Fafunwa, during his time at the Ministry of Education, at the inception of the government of General Ibrahim Babangida in 1984, had introduced the 22.214.171.124 system of education with a view to churning out entrepreneurs who could work or trade in a business, even after acquiring just the Junior Secondary School (JSS) level of education.
The subjects to be taught to this level of proficiency included; Wood Work, Fine Art, Home Economics, Technical Drawing, and others that were introduced with laboratory, workshop equipment and tools shipped in and distributed to virtually every secondary school in the country.
Speaking on the monumental failure of the objective, Dr Egunyomi, also disclosed that if the government had been highly committed to the policy, success would have been achieved, arguing that Nigeria was not adequately prepared for the system before it embarked on it.
“We were not actually prepared for that programme then. It was after the establishment of all these acquisition of the equipment meant for the practical aspect of the programme that we realised we did not have the human capital to man the equipment put in place,” she stated, adding that if there had been provision of manpower, the story would have been a different one by now.
And for not giving a thought to this or developing enough human capital to meet this need, coupled with the erratic power situation in the country then, the objective were hardly met as investigations revealed that the equipment were either vandalized or destroyed due to rot.
A third school of thought which has described the situation as a “total system failure” posits that the root cause of the deficiency of graduates produced by the Nigerian universities is not only a problem of structure or human capital, but the whole system which, they argue, needs an overhaul.
“How does one begin to address the fact that even a first-class degree holder from a Nigerian university is staying at home with no idea of what to do, except wait for the not-so-available white collar jobs? How does one define the admonition of a Head of Department to a graduating student of Computer Engineering to pocket his certificate and learn from road side operators? How does one describe a situation where formal education has lost touch with real life and challenges confronting it?
In a recent report, Professor Oluwafemi Balogun, immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, was said to have expressed regrets that inspite of the existence of about 124 universities in Nigeria, most of them were incapable of proffering solutions to “the encumbering development malaise.”
In his words: “I’m adequately convinced of the potency of education, particularly at the higher level as an effective elixir to the recurring issue of national development with its attendant socio-economic indices. Shared experiences from emerging world economies like Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, India, etc had amply demonstrated the conviction that the African continent could signicantly combat underdevelopment, provided its sovereign nations would be more innovative in finding appropriate solutions to associated problems on education. The success secrets of these emerging world economies constantly reveal their abilities to effectively link higher education programme to economic development. The synergy has always produced significant success.
“Even if the entire nation complains of being plunged into darkness and lack of productivity due to the erratic power situations in the country, our university communities should not also. They should have had enough expertise to develop alternative means of power supply, and water supply among others. The institutions of higher learning and graduates from them ought to be models for what the larger society ought to be. They should at least be able to solve this problem for their communities alone if they cannot for the entire nation. Sadly, they are not doing that. The tutors either complain of a lack of funds, or the students complain that the system was designed to fail them or complaints about mismanagement of fund. The entire system that manages education in the country should be overhauled.”
Along these lines, the Minister of Education, Ruqayyat Ahmed Rufa’i, during the Ministerial Platform on Key Achievements in commemoration of the first anniversary of President Goodluck Jonathan administration, was quoted as saying that the University of Abuja is a typical system failure which requires urgent attention and serious overhauling.
“Why we acted on the University of Abuja was to save it from total collapse. The university is a big issue. I am sorry to say that it is a total system failure. There is a problem in the university, but look at other universities? It is totally different from what we have in the University of Abuja. The institution receives funds just like other functional universities, yet there are a whole lot of challenges facing it. But I’m assuring you that soon the problems we have in the university will be fixed,” she assured.
Meanwhile, some students and ex-students, who spoke with Saturday Tribune, bared their minds. According to Newton Okafor, a Computer Engineering student, “the method of teaching and approach here is not as practical as it ought to be. Sometimes our lecturers even tell us to give to them what they have given us in their notes. We really cannot devise new approaches and formulas to answer questions. What you know, that gives you a level of competitive awareness on a larger scale is solely attributed to one’s efforts at personal development.”
Another student, Micheal Afolabi, a student of Electrical Engineering, disclosed that “we do not have a practical knowledge of most things we are taught in class. We are not as versed in practical as we are in theoretical works and it does not speak well of us. Though this breach helps us learn to study hard to improve ourselves independently, it does not place graduates from this end of the world at par with graduates from around the world. There is no element of global competitiveness in the approach.
Another student, Maryham Okoro said: “We need up-to-date facilities and equipment. We want to be proud ambassadors of our various disciplines when we stand among colleagues from other part of the world. We need a system that teaches us to face the world by equipping us rightly for it. We desire to have a well-rounded academic experience. We hate being needed to be “upgraded” before we can be considered for employment abroad,” Marlyn Okoro lamented.