• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

Curriculum, mastering limit Nigeria’s education system

FG, states, harness strategies for national plan on financing safe schools

Uriel Emmanuel applied for a job with a multinational firm as a computer science graduate. His resume got short-listed, and he cleared the written examinations and scaled through the group discussion.

However, when it came to the practical aspect, he could not perform. He could not develop a web server with the PHP programme.
He was later tested on the C# programme, he also did not measure up to the required mark.
Emmanuel lost the opportunity to grab a mouth-watering job because while in school, there was not enough exposure to the practical aspect of the course.

His case is similar to millions of Nigerian graduates graduating yearly. This is because the country is failing to prepare more than 50 percent of its youth population for future work owing to outdated educational curricula and mastery.

An undergraduate in Computer Science at Stanford University, California, United States of America (USA) takes over100 courses, including practicals, while a Computer Science undergraduate at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, does not take up to 50 courses besides general studies to graduate without any practical courses.

Courses such as Machine Structure and Assembly Language Programming, Web Applications, and iOS Application Development, among others, are some courses taught at Stanford University that equip students for workplace challenges after graduation, BusinessDay’s findings show.

Unfortunately, in Nigerian universities where some of these courses are taught, it is just the theoretical aspects, there are few or no laboratories and workshops to adequately expose students to the practical know-how that would help them stand out in the global workplace, according to experts.
Nigeria has the second highest number of unemployed youth globally, a United Nations Human Development Index shows. With 53 percent youth unemployment, the country is the world’s second worst.

Nigeria is ranked 163 for the second consecutive year, according to a recent UNDP report.
Similarly, Nigeria ranked 114th in the world and 14th among African countries in the Global Competitiveness Index Rankings update of 2022, an indication of the country’s low level of productivity.
Experts linked Nigeria’s underdevelopment to the lack of investment in human development and problems associated with educational reforms.

They are worried that the outdated curriculum introduced by colonial masters and reviewed last in 2013 is not good enough to groom graduates that will fit in the global workspace.
Boye Ogundele, an educationist, frowned at the fact that the country is still using the curriculum given to it by colonial masters.
“We are still using the curriculum given to us since the colonial period. The scope still revolves around the three major areas – cognitive domain, affective, and psychomotor. It is still cramming and pouring, nothing practical,” he noted.

Ogundele explained that the curriculum is terrible because it does not give room for learners to explore and discover their talents.
He pointed out that the initial motive of the colonial masters was to educate Nigerians on the art of reading, writing, and simple arithmetic.
In the same vein, Aliko Dangote, chief executive officer of Dangote Group, in 2021 called on universities to lay the foundations to bridge the skills gap in the country.

According to Dangote, most Nigerian students entering the workforce lack the required skills to meet the changing needs of the global economy.

To do this, experts stated that learning curricula must be tailored to meet industrial needs and requirements to drive the fourth industrial revolution.

Izu Nwachukwu, a senior lecturer at the University of Calgary, Canada, frowned at Nigeria’s current system of education, saying that the country needs a competency-based system of learning.

“The 21st-century education is competence-based, where students learn to master their chosen careers through learning by practice system,” he said.
Similarly, Remi Alatise, senior lecturer at Fountain University, Osogbo, maintained that Nigeria needs a system of education where the curriculum is tailored to meet the contemporary needs of society.

“The essence of education itself is to solve personal and societal problems. Any educational system that cannot guarantee these is dysfunctional.
“Unfortunately, we do more theories here than practicals, not necessarily because of incapacitation but because of lack of finance to fund research activities in Nigeria,” he explained.

Lucky Monday, a civil engineer, buttressed that the education system does not encourage practical experience.
“There is a practicability and technological gap in the university education system of Nigeria,” he noted.

Stanley Alaubi, senior lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, bolstering the need for a competent-based curriculum, disclosed that failure of the learning curriculum to meet societal needs is an exercise in futility.
“Solution is to look for a way out through the use of an entrepreneurial curriculum for the country,” he advised.

Apart from the outdated curricula, experts also identified low mastering of subjects by students as another major clog to maximising the opportunities in the fourth industrial revolution ecosystem.
Adetunji Adegbesan, chief executive officer at Gidi Mobile Limited, thinks that curriculum is not the main issue with the country’s education system but academic achievement.

“I think there is no way Nigeria’s education can lead to the fourth industrial revolution unless there is a functional education system. The core binding education constraint in Nigeria is not a curriculum but educational achievement,” he said.
Education achievement is a relative concept that measures improvement in the performance of a student over some time with the help of instructions given by teachers.

Similarly, Ifeanyi Anorue, senior lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka said that there is nothing wrong with the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) curriculum.
He faulted the introduction of the Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standards for the Nigerian University System (CCMAS) by the National Universities Commission (NUC), saying it does not change anything.

Ogundele urged the policymakers to review and update the education curriculum to ensure that it is relevant to the needs of the country and the job market.