Gbenga Sodeinde in Ado Ekiti
The internationalisation of higher education (IHE) is a major force shaping and challenging higher education worldwide and a central feature of higher education policy and practice.
A major development challenge in Nigeria has been addressing labour market skills shortages, meeting industry-specific skills demands and facilitating the transfer of technical skills and capabilities for operating large industrial projects to Nigerian citizens.
Shaanxi Polytechnic Institute, a leading public college in China supported by the Chinese government under the Belt and Road Initiative, has been building TVET teachers’ capacity in Nigeria through various interventions.
The Association of Proprietors of Innovation and Vocational Institutions formally presented some curricula produced by Shaanxi Polytechnic Institute, China and stakeholders in Nigeria to the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) about three years ago.
Commenting on the development, an expert in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), as well as the consultant Shaanxi Polytechnic country representative, Mr Julius Ayodele, said the Federal Ministry of Education approved the collaboration of Shaanxi Polytechnic Institute with polytechnics in Nigeria through a letter conveyed to Shaanxi Polytechnic by National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) in February 2021.
Ayodele noted that with the approval of the Federal Ministry of Education, many polytechnics and their students have benefited in one way or the other from Shaanxi Polytechnic Institute programmes in Nigeria, noting that “some of the polytechnics in Nigeria comprising federal, state and private have signed partnership agreement with Shaanxi polytechnic.
“The capacity development programmes that have been completed by Shaanxi Polytechnic Institute include: Shared Curriculum with Nigeria Polytechnics, Domestication of Curriculum, Curriculum Review, Online Workshops, Winter Camp with the focus on Chinese language and cultural awareness,” stated Ayodele.
He explained further, “Advisory and consultative work with Polytechnics on how to improve quality of their provision, Sharing training resources with some Nigeria Polytechnics, meeting with stakeholders online to discuss ideas and creative ways Chinese TVET institutions will be able to support Nigeria Polytechnics.”
Ayodele explained that the polytechnic was helping to improve the quality of the curriculum and that its support will help improve the capacities of Nigerian polytechnics and provide employability skills which will help solve unemployment, particularly among the youth.
Reacting, the acting Rector of the First Irish Business School, Lagos, Dr Louis Odubanjo, who participated in the signing of the partnership deal and was involved in the curriculum development, as well as adaptation of some of the polytechnic programmes for Nigerians, stated that the curriculum development and adaptation for use in Nigeria by partner schools have been successful but need to speed up.
The educational evaluation specialist said, “As it stands now, the process awaits National Critique by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) in Nigeria. The completion of the National Critique exercise is important to begin the use of that curriculum in Nigeria. The support for equipment and tools (hardware and software) and manpower development are all essential.”
Similarly, the Rector of St Winifred Innovation Institute, Dr Andrews Jegede, opined that the contract with the Shaanxi school to domesticate curriculum for Nigerians was carried out successfully.
Jegede said he was able to develop and domesticate the following curriculum of Shaanxi Polytechnic Institute; NID and HNID Networking and System Security, NID and HNID Digital Multimedia Technology, NID and HNID Welding and Fabrication Automation, NID and HNID Computer Software Engineering.
Also, the Dean of Research and Innovative at the Federal Polytechnic Offa, Kwara, Dr Grace Korter, the contact person for the collaboration between the institution and institute, said the collaboration was in curricula cooperation, student internship in China, education officials and school leaders’ visit to China.
Korter said to scale up the mechanical, electrical-electronic and computer engineering technology departments, the polytechnic also collaborated with the institute, adding that a new department, Urban Rail Engineering Technology, will be established.
Capacity building for staff, staff and student exchange programmes, curriculum domestication, Chinese village, institute, and restaurant is the collaboration’s focus for an improved academic system.
Korter maintained that Offa polytechnic took part in the 2022 virtual winter camp for Chinese language and traditional clothing handicrafts at the Shaanxi institute on December 12 to 23, 2022.
While trying to get across to Offa polytechnic students, many students from other institutions, including Nigerian universities, showed interest and participated in the winter camp.
The 10-day virtual winter camp exposed students to traditional Chinese fashion, culture, listening and speaking, dancing and Kung Fu arts. Six of “our students were able to complete the camp session and issued certificates,” signed MoU to commence the Chinese Language Centre at Offa, submitted a proposal requesting collaboration on curriculum development for its trainers in Rail Technology Engineering and Renewable Energy Technology Engineering to enable take-off of the two programmes at the polytechnic (domestication of Shaanxi Polytechnic Institute curriculum, Shaanxi Polytechnic Institute 2023).
Korter noted that the collaboration was successful and appreciated the dean of International Education School, Shaanxi polytechnic, China, Mr Qin Jingjun and the TVET Skills Expert, Mr Ayodele Julius, for their passion for seeing the Federal Polytechnic Offa succeed in all areas of collaboration.
“Our request is for the management to hasten the process to enable commencement of Chinese Restaurant at the Federal Polytechnic, Offa,” said Korter. “I implore other stakeholders to key into the efforts of Shaanxi Polytechnic Institute to promote academic culture for a better society. We look forward to a more favourable working relationship.”