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Equipping graduates with adequate skills to boost productivity

Schools contribute much to the socio-economic status of the society. Learning starts from primary school then progresses to the secondary school level. 

By the time a student finishes his Secondary education, he must have acquired knowledge of either the science subjects or the arts. 

Progressing to tertiary school, the student is expected to acquire skills that can help him contribute economically to the society.

Nigerian institutions of higher learning are doing much in turning out graduates with professional skills. 

Architects and building engineers in Nigeria are doing well in this regard. Other professionals doing well include lawyers and doctors.

While some professionals are doing well, not all are doing so. Also in all professionals, it seems that adequate skill can only be acquired after years of experience. 

Suffice it to say that while experience is acquired after enough years have passed, much of what is learned in school is forgotten if not applied in the work place. 

Therefore students should be chaperoned to acquire adequate skills which they will impact at the work place once they leave school as graduates. 

The high number of unemployed graduates shows that students have not acquired adequate skills by the time they graduate. 

They wait to be employed by others. One of the problems students face in school is nonchalant attitude of some of their lecturers. 

Some lecturers are used to missing classes. Many, especially in science-related disciplines, do not know their courses well.

Many Nigerian institutions of higher learning are equipped with laboratories and workshops, with tools and machines. What is required is for school authorities to take students to these places, with knowledgeable lecturers so that students would be taught relevant skills.

The regulatory bodies in Nigeria, such as the National Universities Commission (N.U.C.) and the National Board for Technical Education (N.B.T.E.), should not only make sure that qualified lecturers and equipment are available in the school. 

They should make sure that these are utilised to the advantage of students.

Another challenge to quality education in Nigeria is the type of system run by the institution. 

Take for example the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (S.I.W.E.S.) obtainable in Nigerian technical institutions. 

This scheme is meant to help the student get familiar with the work environment. But the reality is that after a whole year away from school, students forget what they had previously learned and hence lack coherence with further learning. 

Some schools run Terms, others run Semester system. Learning should be continuous from lower level to a higher one.

Instead of long periods of compulsory work experience, the school can run a company offering services in which the student can practice during the schooling periods. 

This can help school authorities monitor the progress of students. The student can also be shown how to establish and run his own company after graduation. 

This can lessen graduate unemployment and under-employment.

In the same vein, the school authorities can establish ties with existing companies where students can practice while still schooling. 

Students will be made to practice in companies relevant to their discipline.

From Ephraim Elombah


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