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Graduate Employability: Time to take action – Part 1

Graduate Employability: Time to take action – Part 1

By Tope Toogun

Recently, Prof. Wale Omole, former Vice-Chancellor at OAU, declared that the fundamental issue for us in our education system is the content of instruction, which was developed for us since about 1900AD.We received a post-industrial curriculum for a pre-industrial society. In his opinion, we need to “move from knowledge acquisition to competency building”. I agree completely. And it is not just the curriculum that is deficient, how lecturers teach is also an issue of concern .U.S based Prof. Adebimpe says “a lot of lecturers apart from still seeing life as it was back then still use the same college notes of many years ago to teach their students” We say the curriculum is not right for us, and we compound the problem with outdated methods of teaching? Again I ask; the products of this chaos are the people we are setting up to build and run businesses, scale them up to employ job seekers? Or pursue available job opportunities when the education they acquired has not equipped them with the kind of skills needed in the labour market?

We know and hope that the administrators at the tertiary institutions should also know, given the admission by no less a personage than a former Vice-Chancellor. We hopefully want to believe that the regulators at the NUC and NBTE are also aware of these deficiencies. The question then is; if we know and we believe university administrators, regulators and policy makers know, why have we not started taking coherent steps to address the issue that sits at the core of our unemployment challenge? Why does the NUC continue to carry on enforcing and “quality assuring” processes that have been proven time and time over to be antiquated and ineffective? Why are university administrators seemingly turning a blind eye to the fact that they are selling the nation a dummy by producing graduates who are not fit for purpose, thereby compounding an already difficult problem? As Strive Masiyiwa says in an interview with African Business “We need to move the whole conversation around education from meaning primary and secondary schools. We need to move the whole conversation around education to skills … We need to talk about education which gives somebody skills to be able to feed a family”. Yet we continue to throw money at a problem that has a multi-dimensional root cause? Masiyiwa concedes that “there isn’t a single panacea” but we need practical steps that can be taken to address the challenge of job creation.

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