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Minister Calls For Co-operation Between Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

Nigerian tertiary institutions can no longer continue on their solo trip. No institution can be an island unto itself and expect to succeed in today’s global village. This was the

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قديم 08-16-2012, 07:52 PM
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تاريخ التسجيل: Apr 2012
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افتراضي Minister Calls For Co-operation Between Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

Nigerian Tertiary Institutions can no longer continue on their solo trip. No institution can be an island unto itself and expect to succeed in today’s global village. This was the thrust of the lecture delivered by the Minister of Power, Professor Bart Nnaji at the maiden graduation of Ronik Polytechnic, Lagos.

Prof. Nnaji who was conferred with the Fellowship of the Polytechnic, said although he had left the academia For a while in order to contribute his quota to the resolution of the perennial electricity crisis in Nigeria, he still considers higher education his primary constituency.

Crisis in higher education in Nigeria
Acknowledging that higher education in Nigeria is in deep crisis, Nnaji said before the crisis became pronounced, Prof. Chinua Achebe had in an interview published in Sunday Concord Newspaper in 1984, called national attention to the impending crisis. Unfortunately, the nation paid him no attention.

The late Dr. Pius Okigbo in his convocation lecture at the University of Lagos in 1992 entitled Crisis in the Temple, noted the severe and fundamental crisis in the Nigerian university system. Okigbo lamented that even university authorities were no more interested in honouring men and women of knowledge and integrity but in men and women of wealth and power.

In the same vein, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo said that up to 90 per cent of higher education graduates were not employable.

Only recently, the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister For the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, noted that graduates from the country’s higher Institutions of learning were not employable.

“It is regrettable that the situation has not changed. If anything, it has worsened. Let us look around us, and we shall see how vice-chancellors and others are running around state governors across the country with honorary doctorates. So, we do really have a crisis of values and vision at different levels in our academic institutions.

“Against this backdrop, the nation cannot but commend President Jonathan For recently advising the governing councils, vice- chancellors and rectors of Tertiary education in Nigeria against further commercialization of honorary doctorates and fellowships,” said Nnaji.

Supreme irony:
Going down memory lane, Prof. Nnaji described the crisis in the schoolsblog.com/category/universities/”target=”_self”rel=”external”title=”" >universities as a supreme irony. He said: “By 1960 when Nigeria attained independence, most villages and whole communities in the country had no university graduates. Still, the few products of the University College, Ibadan, were competing favourably with their counterparts from Oxford, Cambridge, London, etc. But decades later when education has supposedly spread everywhere in Nigeria, products of local universities are anything but inspiring.”

He noted that Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Professors Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, JP Clark, Akin Mabogunje, Anya O. Anya, Iya Abubakar, Alex Animalu, Jibril Aminu and other world class scholars were all products of Nigerian universities.

“Can the current university system in Nigeria produce graduates of the international caliber of the people mentioned above? Why are Nigerian parents and guardians desperate to send their children and wards to not just the US, Britain or Canada, but Cyprus, Ghana and Tunisia and pay through their nose For Tertiary education? “Why does the unwritten policy among Nigerian parents seem to be ‘Anywhere but Nigeria’ as far as higher education is concerned?” he asked.

Proffering solutions to the crisis so as to make higher education in Nigeria globally competitive, Nnaji recommended that courses like English/ Communication, Logic and Ethics, must be made compulsory in the first two years of undergraduate programme irrespective of a student’s area of specialisation.

Then in the last two or three years, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Organisation Theories, Financial Accounting, International Business, Management & Cost Accounting, as well as Elements of Banking should also be made compulsory.

He said our education should prepare graduates For the real challenges in the larger society. “A medical doctor requires a bit of management skills to run a hospital, just as communication skills will help him or her write a professional paper or prepare a persuasive memo if he or she is a director in the Ministry of Health. In the US For instance, all university students study the same courses For the first two years.”

Better funding
Nnaji said that better funding is not the major problem while harping on the need For Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria to be more creative, more aggressive and more business-like, without compromising academic integrity or excellence. The Minister noted that higher Institutions in the US derive immense revenues from their alumni and from research activities.

Conversely, public Institutions in Nigeria traditionally depend almost entirely on government For funds, which turn out to be mere handouts in relation to their huge and pressing financial needs.

”It is time our educational Institutions encouraged their lecturers and others to conduct research For organisations in the private and public sectors, from which they can benefit financially.

“While teaching Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the universities of Massachusetts and Pittsburgh, I was greatly encouraged by my employers to do research work For the American Army, NATO, IBM, General Electric, etc.

“Even here in Nigeria, the late Prof. Oliver Mobisson, working as Director of the Industrial Development Centre at the Anambra (now Enugu) State University of Technology worked in collaboration with NITEL on the Eagle Project For the digitization of the operations of the state-owned telecommunications giant.

He also worked with the then Anambra State Ministry of Finance headquarters to conceive, build and develop a specialised computer For the ministry. The university benefited from the collaborative efforts. I am saying that the concept of the university as an ivory tower does not obtain any more. We are now in an era when Town and Gown are married,” he said.

Need For collaboration:
“Collaboration among universities is in every person’s interest. I had the privilege of serving as Director of the US National Science Foundation Centre For e-Design at the University of Pittsburgh where I also served, first, as ALCOA Foundation Professor and, later, as William Kepler Whiteford Professor.

“The centre was made possible because it’s a collaborative effort involving the University of Massachusetts, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, University of Central Florida and the University of Pittsburgh, with the US Air Force, Ford Motors, US Department of Defence, US Navy, US Army, Aluminum Company of America, KODAK, IBM and Boeing Corporation as member organisations. I hope to see collaborative efforts like this in our country someday.”

Nnaji believes that if these steps are taken to resolve the crisis in our Tertiary institutions, then Black Africa will definitely count in the unfolding world scenario as regards the transformation of university education. “All of us have a duty to ensure that Africa is a major part of 21st Century world history.

“The fear that collaboration with foreign universities will cost Nigerian universities their identity is unfounded. None of the Institutions involved in such partnerships have lost their identity. Such partnerships rather help in the promotion of academic and cultural exchanges and in the deepening of international understanding. It is time For us to think global and act local,” he concluded.

Minister Calls For Co-operation Between Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

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