10 January 2013

Nigeria: Time for Curriculum Review

Once upon a time Nigerian graduates were 'hot cake'. But this isn't the case anymore and many stakeholders believe that the outdated curriculum being run in most tertiary institutions might have contributed in no small measure to this change of status.

There are schools in this country that still operate the curriculum designed at their inception. The result is that Nigerian graduates when employed are first subjected to months of training and lectures before they can resume work.

A retired professor who was on the team that designed the curriculum of a department at its inception in one of the universities in the South East, on coming back to the department as an adjunct professor, told the students that their courses and the contents were designed by him along side others at the inception of the institution. He wondered why no changes were made since 1982 when the department took off.

Many students believe that in the current knowledge-driven economy, sound education is a necessity if Nigeria must key into world advancement.

Ikechukwu Udeh, a final year student of Mechanical Engineering, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, said: 'It is clear that we are backward. So, until we think towards reviewing our educational policies and catch up with the world, I am afraid we would remain where we are."

In recent times effort has been put into reviewing the curricula at primary and secondary levels but little has been done with regards to tertiary education. There is the need to include such course components as entrepreneurial studies/skills for poverty eradication and job creation, vocational studies to boost skills acquisition. Another important component is in Information Communication Technology (ICT). Many higher learning institutions are not doing enough in this regard.

There is also the need to incorporate market economics which could expose students to leadership areas in success skills, financial literacy and business ethics.

Kelechi Ojinnaka, a graduate of Electrical/Electronics Engineering, FUTO who was in Brazil on an exchange programme said that Nigeria needs a total overhaul of its education system.

Kelechi, who specializes in renewable energy/power control systems, said there is great disparity between the curriculum content of Nigerian universities and their counterparts elsewhere. He said that though it takes more number of years to graduate from a Nigerian university, a graduate abroad touches relevant and up-to-date courses within a shorter period.

A cross-section of students say institutions must come up with what many of them referred to as, "modern curriculum" in order to catch up with the present day realities. Similarly, there should be workshops/symposia organized which will have experts, professionals, industry players brainstorm to fashion out curricula capable of empowering students with skills that could put the economy on the path of growth and sustainable development.

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