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Wednesday, 19 December 2012 00:00
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Unemployment: Anxiety mounts as universities churn out graduates into labour market

Prof. Oladapo ObafunwaMore questions await stakeholders in Nigeria’s education sector and labour market about job creation amidst growing graduate unemployment rate. CAJETAN MMUTA who was at the 20th convocation ceremony of the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi in Edo state writes.

It was another mile stone for stakeholders in the education sector, management and students of the Federal Polytechnic Auchi in Edo state as drums were rolled out last week in celebration.

The occasion indeed was the 20th convocation ceremony of 6,161 young Nigerian graduates of the institution who have distinguished themselves in various disciplines in pursuit for excellence.

Despite providing an opportunity for stock taking on how much meaningful impact the nation’s education sector has made in the lives of millions of school leavers, the event no doubt calls for a serious concern and reflection on the fate of ever increasing number of talented graduates trooping into the job market almost on yearly basis.

While the momentary fun fare of heaving a sigh of relief from obvious tasks of no easy road in the country’s education system lasted, the graduates for now are to be confronted with the question of where their bread will best be buttered as they return home to face the real society where they belong.

 Also, colour was added to the ceremony  with the presentation of Fellowship Honorary awards  and recognition of some eminent Nigerians who have contributed immensely towards the socio-economic growth of various institutions, humanity and the nation.

Among the awardees were Nigeria’s First Lady Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan and founder of the Women for Change and development Initiative, a Non-governmental organization (NGO) who was represented at the occasion by the minister of Women Affairs Hajia Zainab Maina; Hajia Aishatu Dukku and Ijaw national leader and former minister of Information Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark who also was represented by the former governor of Edo state Professor Oserheimen Osunbor respectively.

In her speech Dame Patience Jonathan called for training  of more women in vocational education to enable them have greater participatory role in the nation’s growth and the family. She said time was ripe for the country to accord more opportunities to the girl child for participation in active careers in the professions of technology, engineering and vocational education. According to the country’s First Lady “this is more so because clearly, the direction of the future is technology education.” 

She further urged the administration of various tertiary institutions across the country to intensify deliberate efforts aimed at boosting the interest of women in vocational and technological studies. While commending the polytechnic for the awards, she added that the gesture would propel the awardees including herself to higher dedication to the causes of growth and development of the great nation.

Besides the First Lady appealed to the graduands to “uphold the integrity of the institution at all times and to remember to always put the national interest first in all their dealings.”

She commended the rector of the polytechnic Dr. Philipa Idogho for demonstrating her skills and impression that have assisted in no small measure to lift the institution above others as well as lauded the efforts of three other  women at the top position of other polytechnics in Nekede, Imo State, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti state and Yaba in Lagos state saying that they had shown that they could perform “efficiently and effectively” like their male counterparts in Nigeria.

The Minister of Education Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i stated that there was the urgent need for Nigerian youths to take Information Communication Technology (ICT) seriously and that arrangements have been concluded to make Computer Based Test (CBT) a compulsory component of admission and matriculation examinations into tertiary institutions.

The process according to the minister will commence next year, 2013.  Prof. Ruqayyatu who was represented by the Executive secretary of the National Board for technical Education, Maásud Kazaiure assured of federal government’s determination to ensure that youths have access to higher quality education comparable to the best in the world, pointing out that the aim was to enable them, acquire skills for global competiveness that would guarantee manpower supply in line with technological chamges and market demands. 

The minister promised government support for NBTE to achieve its plan in 28 critical areas of the Strategic Action Plan as they affect the board in moving forward the technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). The minister therefore lauded the industrial harmony between government and workers unions in tertiary institutions since this year, adding “I hope this will continue in the years to come”.

She said government was aware of the efforts by management of tertiary institutions to boost their internally generated revenue (IGR) sources and expressed appreciation to DR. Idogho-led administration of the Auchi Polytechnic for distinguishing itself in the recent National Education Innovations Exhibition in Abuja, stressing that the school has consistently came first in various polytechnic expositions.

The minister of education further stated decried the growing number of graduates unemployment in the country which she said led to the federal government to mandate all tertiary institutions in the country to introduce entrepreneurial education in their programmes to develop skills that would make graduates depend less on paid employment.

“Government is working hard to address the challenges posed by bandwidth availability in the country. To ensure that our youths take ICT education seriously, government has approved Computer Based test (CBT) as a component of admission and matriculation examination to our tertiary institutions.

This will be effective from 2013. There is no gainsaying that the challenges facing the educational sector are quite enormous. To tackle this, government has consistently made efforts at increasing the budget for education.

This administration will continue to strive towards ensuring that funding education is greatly improved” Earlier in her address Dr (Mrs) Philipa Idogho said the school was being positioned under her administration to maintain its statutes as the best polytechnic and 2nd best tertiary institution in Nigeria by the latest Webometrics report ranking universities in the world.

Dr. Idogho said her administration has embarked on massive infrastructural development of the institution with the completion of many projects most of which were done through its Internally Generated Revenue and continuous re-training for the academic staff of the school within and outside the country.

However, in spite of the eulogies and rituals of celebrations the situation at the moment in the life of the Nigerian nation leaves the leaders and the led with the onerous challenge of working it out in all fronts towards making ends meet.

This becomes inevitable going by the fact that most of the country’s old industries have vanished from the memory of the citizens with gross rottenness that marked their initial establishment while nothing sort of new ones are being set up to meet the foreseeable economic holocaust that is ebbing to suffocate the country to point of no return.

Worse of it is that the masses are helplessly groaning in the face of the ignoble grab, grab (corruption) adder out to eat up everything in sight while the value system and morals nose dive on each passing day. The ugly scenario leaves us with more question than answers.

It is no doubt therefore the reverberating call national rebirth and revolution for a new Nigeria that caters for its people rather than the very few always out to milk the masses in the guise of leadership. We need not be reminded about the gross economic dislocations with pitiable unemployment rate, insecurity, loss of value system, mass failure by students and rot in the education sector, ever failing health system and decaying infrastructure in the midst of endless false prophesies by all tiers of governments about their unrealistic performances from trillion and billion yearly budgets that go to nowhere.
It goes to mean the polity in for the worst.

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