Don Emphasises Skills Acquisition among Youths

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Funmi Ogundare

The former Vice-Chancellor of Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH), Professor Tolu Odugbemi, has stressed the need for the country to place more emphasis on the acquisition of skills that will make graduates self-reliant and job creators.

Odugbemi, who made this known recently during the book launch/public presentation of ‘Experiences on Starting a New University in a Developing Country Setting, Nigeria- OSUSTECH’, in Lagos, said much attention seem to be paid on university education to the detriment of other vocational skills relevant to building the economy.

“It is economic desperation or no other means of livelihood/employment that push majority to seek employment in universities. The qualifications, experience, skills and background of applicants for employment and admission do not often count.”

He expressed concern that Nigerian university curriculum does not address how graduates could be employers of labour and job creators, adding that the board members/governing council appointed by the government sometimes do not have sufficient understanding of the education system. He said various communities also see universities in their areas as their personal property to treat as they please.

Odugbemi stressed the need for background checks on potential team and governing board members, as well as staff and students. “There is undue and unacceptable interference by outsiders in the running of our universities. Our universities most of the time, do not have steady educational policies, no effective rules and regulations. This allows for abuse of various processes for admission, appointment and promotion. These are the factors that make universities dysfunction.”

He regretted that corruption has eaten deep into the country and is negatively affecting universities, which should be seen as true centres for learning, teaching, research and community service.

“What roles are universities playing? Researchers have unbelievable huge research topics to address. Imagine the ongoing allegations on billions of naira or US dollars being stolen by individuals. What are our university social scientists doing? Are these not potential topics for research with outcome of international prizes like Noble Prize?
“What about psychologists, writers? What are psychiatrists waiting for in researching into these social anomalies? The pathologists should be struggling to have pieces of the brain samples of those stealing to detect defects which may lead to discoveries of new syndromes. This is a serious matter.

“It is unfortunate that technology in universities in developing countries is not directed at immediate challenges of making escalators or lift function, getting simple means of transportation, finding alternative sources of energy and fabricating or upgrading tools to cool our homes and offices.”

The Head, Department of Education Foundation, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Ngozi Osarenren, who reviewed the book, said the 10-paged compendium is replete with rich pictures of virtually all the activities and events that took place during the tenure of Odugbemi as the pioneer vice-chancellor of OSUSTECH.

Highlighting the achievements and challenges of the author during his tenure, she said “the positive attitude of pioneer VC and his team to the issues of funding and political climate account for the numerous achievements and successes of OSUSTECH during the early years. How else can it be explained that a monthly recurrent grant of N50 million was received when the monthly is N44.5 million?

“How will the plethora of challenges competing for attention be adequately funded? But that is the hallmark of the prudent management witnessed at the institution during the period under review.”

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of UNILAG, Prof. Rahamon Ade-Bello expressed the institution’s readiness to support OSUSTECH, saying that though the challenges of setting up a new university is much, Odugbemi was able to weather the storm and achieved a milestone with his efforts.

“When you hear somebody giving an account of what he has done, which needs to be documented for posterity, he needs to be celebrated. In Nigeria here, the role of the vice-chancellor is everything, he is the one that provides water, electricity and ensures that salaries are paid. It is not a mean feat that Odugbemi has achieved.”