NUC tasks African universities on employability skills
The National Universities Commission (NUC), has challenged universities in Africa to come up with programmes and partnerships with institutions that will provide students with skills needed for employment.
The Acting Executive Secretary, NUC, Mr Chris Maiyaki, gave the charge at the 3rd Annual Conference of the Forum for Innovation in African Universities (FIAU) in Abuja on Friday.
The conference has the theme: “Strengthening Africa’s Higher Education in a Post COVID-19 world.”
Maiyaki said that embracing international collaborations would enable universities to tap into a wealth of expertise, resources, and opportunities for their students and faculties.
While noting that there is a challenge of resource constraint faced by universities across Africa, he said that to address the situation, the institutions require strategic partnerships.
“Collaboration with governments, private sector entities, philanthropic organisations, and international development agencies is crucial in pooling resources, sharing expertise, and creating sustainable funding models,” he said.
He added that the commission had championed the development of guidelines for the implementation of Transnational Education (TNE) in Nigeria for the purpose of partnering with other institutions abroad.
“TNE presents a wide range of opportunities such as increasing access to higher education for our youth and promoting strategic alliances between countries and regions.
“These partnerships must, however, be built on mutual respect, shared objectives, and a commitment to nurturing talent and promoting global citizenship,” he said.
Maiyaki stressed the need to integrate technology into the delivery of university education to ensure its resilience in a Post-COVID-19 world.
He said this would help in harnessing the power of innovation and also make the institutions to foster sustainable university-industry partnerships that transcend traditional boundaries.
“These partnerships will allow us to align our curricula with the evolving needs of the job market, creating graduates who are not only well-versed in theory but also possess the practical skills demanded by employers.
“Furthermore, collaboration with industries will enable our universities to conduct impactful research that addresses real-world challenges that continue to impact mankind, so as to secure tangible socio-economic development,” he added.
He called on university academia to ensure collective responsibility to address the challenges before it and forge a path towards a stronger and more resilient future for higher education in Africa.
He said to ensure that graduates of the continent are fully equipped with the required skills and knowledge to succeed in the 21st Century, there is a need to constantly strive to improve and update educational programmes in consonance with the realities of global best practices.
He said that higher education must shift to offer every student opportunities for the continuous refinement of the skills needed for employment in a competitive world.
“One of such innovative steps is taken recently by the NUC as part of its efforts to reposition the Nigerian University System for excellence and global competitiveness.
” This initiative was the launch of the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) for the 17 disciplines in the Nigerian University System, with emphasis on the acquisition of 21st Century employability and entrepreneurial skills.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr David Adejo, said there was a great prospect for African universities to make progress in the Post-COVID-19 era.
Adejo said that Africa is fortunate because predictions about the severity of the pandemic in the continent did come true.
He, however, said the continent had not been able to properly deal with the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, saying forum for Innovation in African Universities (FIAU), in 2019 was a direct response to the adverse effects of the pandemic on the educational sector in Africa.
He commended FIAU for encouraging knowledge exchange and working closely with regional and global partners to pool resources to support African universities, adding that it is what the continent needs to enable it overcome its challenges.
Meanwhile, the FIAU co-Founder, Prof. Pascal Anosike, in a remark, said that African universities had made remarkable progress in the areas of curriculum review and private sector investment, but more still needed to be done in widening access and improving employability rate.
Anosike called for the use of modern technology to support students’ learning, adding that his organisation would strengthen the capacity of African universities to tackle these challenges.