Managers of Nigerian universities have been advised to update their current curricula and design their vocational programmes into degree courses in order to reduce the increasing rate of unemployment in the nation.
A renowned Nigerian-born and United States-based academic, Professor, Toyin Falola, gave the advice while delivering the 7th Convocation Lecture of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, titled, “Nigerian Universities and Youth Empowerment”.
Prof. Falola said, “It is about time Nigerian universities updated their curricula to meet up with the demands, thoughts, and urgencies of the present and serve the need of their immediate and global societies by introducing more practical aspects into courses in the universities.
“The curricula have to reflect state-of-the-art concepts in order to be relevant in the contemporary dispensation. That is, they have to shift from conventional teaching techniques; adopt technological materials and approaches in knowledge delivery; customize programmes to suit the interests and capabilities of individual students; and inculcate the importance of developing start-ups to encourage independence and creation of more jobs.”
“In a regressive economy as Nigeria’s, there is also the need to equip students with empowerment and entrepreneurial skills so that they could have something to, at least, subsist on after the completion of their university education.
“In fact, in many advanced countries in the world, skills like photography, fashion designing, shoemaking, graphic design and printing among others are already being taught as vocationally oriented degree courses. It is therefore a good idea if this is replicated in Nigerian universities. It is high time some of these skills are designed into degree courses. This is one viable way of ‘exploring alternative degree formats’.”
He advised universities to, through courses under general studies, help the students to work on their generic skills and attributes which required by employers, which include having the right attitude and work ethics, proper and effective communication skills (including writing), managing relationships, emotional intelligence, respect for authority, and grooming and etiquette.
The Guest Lecturer who pointed out that Nigeria alone has 2.53 percent of the entire world population and at the median age of 17.9 years, said the nation lacks the vibrant institutions and resources to translate such huge potential to growth.
Prof. Falola regretted that the noble objective of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, which was to provide a space for youth engagement and development, has been imperiled by the larger Nigerian dysfunction, as the scheme has become a means to delay reality for graduates of tertiary institutions for a mere one year while giving them a simulacrum of employment and productivity.
He also recommended to the management of universities to encourage their staffers to mentor students, warning that, “while it is necessary to be strict with students, the strictness need not be inordinate. Rather, it must be professional, and directed towards instilling discipline in the students. They should be mentors and not menaces.”