Nigeria is considering a major policy change to its tertiary education that would see graduates go for an extra year of studies.
The Minister of State for Education, Anthony Anwukah, disclosed this on Tuesday at a two-day retreat for governing councils of federal universities in Abuja.
The retreat, held under the theme ‘Elements of Statutory Governance, Procurement and Financial Accounting in Nigerian Universities,’ is to address the challenges of the education sector.
Mr Anwukah said this was being considered because many university graduates were not good enough to be employed by industries.
He said the proposal was similar to the extra year currently being undertaken by law and medical students.
“Law students attend Law School for one year before going for NYSC and medical students go for one year Housemanship before they are allowed to practice fully, so it will be necessary for other courses to also go through this process,” Mr Anwukah said.
“The Lagos Business School can also serve as a one year after-school training,” he added.
Mr Anwukah said the university system has let Nigeria down in the country’s quest for industrial development. He said the universities have failed to produce graduates that meet the needs of the industries.
“The universities are producing products that are not matching the needs of the industries. I urged the Committee of Pro-chancellors and Committee of Vice-Chancellor to end the decline in the standard of education,” he said.
He lamented that the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) system has failed in the universities.
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SIWES, established in 1974 by the Nigerian government, is a programme of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF). It is designed to give Nigerian students studying occupationally –related courses in higher institutions the experience that would supplement their theoretical learning.
But according to the minister, “the project is not working” and remains a major problem for the university system.
Ayo Banjo, the Chairman of the Governing Board of Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), said the university system must be well-funded before it can achieve high ranking and fulfill its mandate.
“There must be inflow of internally-generated revenue. Pro-chancellors need to think of business that can generate income internally for the revenue of the universities. Unlike pure water and bread, universities should venture into agriculture and real estate”, he said.
He said the governing councils must ensure that best practices are followed in accountability of resources.
According to him, the first university in Nigeria will be 70 years this year, so the university system in the country can still be regarded to be in its infancy.
He said Nigerian universities, except the private ones, have no meaningful academic calendar, although he noted that there are strenuous effort by the universities to appear on global ranking.
The Executive Secretary of NUC, Abubakar Rasheed, said the major problems in universities can be traced to bad governance.
“The retreat is coming at a time when NUC is embarking on reforming universities in Nigeria,” he said.
Ibrahim Njodi, the Vice-Chancellor of University of Maiduguri and representative of Committee of Vice-chancellors, said the retreat will examine a better way for policy implementation.
“We must say the education sector has been experiencing issues but this government means well for the sector,” he said.
The NUC was established to promote quality higher education in Nigeria.