Graduate Employability: Time to Take Action – PART 6
By Tope Toogun
Capacity building for university administrators
Can we improve the managerial capability and business acumen of our university administrators? I will recommend attendance at a course like the Lagos Business School’s CEP and AMP (Chief Executive Programnme and Advanced Management Programme) for Vice Chancellors, Rectors, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, faculty deans and other layers of management for executive education programmes as a first step. They should also undergo executive coaching sessions and other modular courses where they will have the opportunity to interact with entrepreneurs, CEOs and senior executives of private sector companies. Hopefully, something will rub off and they may actually begin to understand the skill needs in industry. At a minimum, a three-year development process may be required for each senior level university administrator. Henceforth, ability to display managerial skills should be a key consideration in appointing senior university administrators. Or else, how could TETFUND say one of its challenges is the inability of universities to manage large-scale projects but the same universities are crying out for more funding?
The steps listed above are only the foundational requirements to put our tertiary institutions in shape to start producing graduates who are fit for purpose. Recall Strive Masiyiwa’s statement about there being no single panacea
Coordination, coordination, coordination
The earlier mentioned case of the suspension of the NgRen programme gives an indication of the lack of coordination that is required to deliver successfully on national priorities. NgRen was started under the auspices of the NUC and Committee of Vice Chancellors of Universities. Both the NUC and CVC are aware of the funding available for tertiary education through TETFUND so how could they have allowed such a critical project to be stalled?
Again, as the NgRen initiative was underway, Galaxy Backbone, another government agency was (or still is?) deploying a cloud based solution to link Vice Chancellors of Nigerian universities through a cloud based solution. I wonder if both projects could not have been merged or collaboration promoted between the backers of the NgRen initiative and the Galaxy Backbone project, given the commonality of purpose. Again, Vice Chancellors were fully aware of both initiatives.
In December 2015,we heard that the Senate summoned the Executive Secretary of TETFUND to appear before its Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND “and defend how it spent over N1 trillion naira put into the Education Tax Fund between 2011 and 2015.The committee will also investigate the alleged diversion of about N273 billion of the education tax collected between 2012 and 2013 on other unknown and unspecified usage said to be unknown to the Act” (This Day newspaper, December 3,2015). Does the senate or its committees have the capacity to conduct investigations into alleged diversion of funds? What then is the role of the ICPC, EFCC and the Police SFU?
The lack of coordination at a strategic level is one of the main reasons why our higher education has continued to fail miserably in delivering value to the Nigerian public, in spite of the enormous resources that has gone into the sector. Driving a change in teaching approach, reviewing the curriculum and developing a robust employability and entrepreneurship development programme is beyond the capacity of the NUC and individual universities. Collaboration between the sector and employers is crucial. Some sort of interagency coordination, directed from the Presidency to underscore the importance of achieving specific outcomes, is required. The CBN, Bank of Industry, TETFUND, NUC, NBTE, National Planning, Labour & Productivity, SMEDAN, Civil Society groups, NECA, NESG and any other relevant stakeholder should all be involved in fashioning out a workable curriculum that is mapped to our manpower requirements. NUC and NBTE can then monitor what the universities are doing in accordance with a broad based plan developed by all affected stakeholders. The current situation where the regulatory bodies, which appear to have no clue as to the nation’s manpower requirements, carry on as Alphas and Omegas is wrong.