Monday, April 08, 2019 7.30AM /
Bukola Akinyele for Proshare WebTV
The Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) in partnership with the National Universities Commission (NUC) recently hosted an interactive event on the theme “Revitalization of Higher Education in Nigeria”.
The meeting featured a panel discussion on “The Future of Education in 2050 and the Role of University-Industry-Government Nexus”
Speaking on the future of education and the role of university, industry and government in Nigeria, The Executive Secretary of the NUC, Professor Abubakar Rasheed who was a member of the panel gave insight into how Nigerian Universities can become entrepreneurial in nature.
According to him, the changing dynamics in the global economy over the last three decades has shaped and dictated the pace of developments in universities.
Professor Rasheed noted that the commercialization or commodification of knowledge in universities, will tend to emphasize the utilitarian value rather than the epistemological value of universities.
Speaking further the NUC Scribe said that with the help of the American model, universities today increasingly justify their relevance, as they have become drivers of useful knowledge that lead to innovation.
Rasheed stressed that innovative thought from the universities will be of immense value to the industries, who will turn them into products that create value for society, thereby enriching the universities, researchers and industries in a virtuous circle of creativity and application.
Also giving perspective to the issue, economist Dr. Doyin Salami of the Lagos Business School said that, “The first thing to do is to understand what we mean by an entrepreneurial university, it is not about whether we teach entrepreneurship or not; it is about the way the university understands the environment in which it operates and establishes a current and continuing relevance to that environment”.
“It is very important that the dynamics that establishes and keeps relevance must be understood. Universities in Nigeria must accept the challenge of being relevant now, and project to the future about their environment” Salami said.
He gave an example that there were competency gaps in the agricultural sector and none of the Nigeria universities of Agriculture, have the competence or the interest in understanding this gap. “What are they going to teach that the agriculture sector is going to find useful, if they don’t understand the basic competency gaps that the agriculture faces” He said.
The economist was of the view that the Nigerian University curriculum will be a good starting point, but there needs to be a change of mindset which is fundamental to institutional change.
Salami stressed that “Our university faculties must be more open and compelled to face the environment and put themselves to work. TETFUND has spent a lot of money over the years putting physical infrastructure in place for these universities, the next step is for TETFUND to begin to de-emphasize physical structure and look at human capital”.
Mr Ayobami Abunsango the Head, Human Resources and representative of Siemens Nigeria Ltd, who represented the company’s MD/CEO said the focus should now be on how to bring down the rate of unemployment in the country, in a sustainable manner before 2050.
According to him, what the private sector wants is employability and there should be deliberate effort among industry, government and academia to work to address it.
From a Siemens perspective, Abunsango reiterated the need for the integration of more engineering courses which should be part of the Nigerian university curriculum, to build manpower for critical sectors like power, energy and technology.
The Executive Secretary of TETFUND Professor Suleiman Bogoro expressed the opinion that made a case for an R and D component that will form the basis for increased funding in all tertiary institutions across the country.
He said “For too long Nigeria has been clapping with one hand in the university system, our research does not look at the environment, and its challenges. If research doesn’t address the problem of any community, society or nation then it is not addressing anything”.
Mr Tope Toogun Head the NESG Human Development Policy Commission gave insight into how to create a valuable exchange between the universities, industry, and government.
He said, what is required is a mindset shift. Toogun believed that it was important for the leaders in the tertiary educational system, to attend the annual economic summit where the agenda for the nation’s development is set and take it back to academia for further deliberation. For him it is the starting point to know what is happening in the outside world.
Toogun also spoke of another mindset, which is at the core of the entrepreneurial University itself, that requires an understanding of entrepreneurship aas problem solving, which will equip the universities, engage other sectors of the economy with a new kind of approach
The Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Education Architect Sonny Echono said Nigeria has one of the lowest levels of agricultural productivity and mechanization in Africa.
He said in order to improve on this, Nigerians universities of Agriculture should develop the use of simple tools for planting and trenching within the agricultural value chain.
Representing the Government Arc Sonny Echono said the enabling environment will be provided to boost the ecosystem, stating that the industry must lead and engage other key sectors, while the NUC and NESG should work together to bring people to the roundtable to agree on how best to address the problems in the Nigerian University system and Industry demands.