The National Universities Commission, NUC, has called on African universities to recognize the value of forging partnerships with institutions worldwide to address constraints and provide students with skills needed for employment.
Acting Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, NUC, Mr. Chris Maiyaki, gave the advice on Friday, in Abuja at the 3rd Annual Conference of the Forum for Innovation in African Universities, FIAU, with the theme: “Strengthening Africa’s Higher Education in a post-COVID-19 world.”
Maiyaki said by embracing international collaborations, the universities can tap into a wealth of expertise, resources, and opportunities for their students and faculties.
While noting that there was a challenge of resource constraint faced by universities across Africa, he said to address the situation, the institutions require strategic partnerships.
“Collaboration with governments, private sector entities, philanthropic organizations, and international development agencies is crucial in pooling resources, sharing expertise, and creating sustainable funding models,” he said.
The NUC boss noted that the commission championed the development of guidelines for the implementation of Transnational Education, TNE, in Nigeria for the purpose of partnering with other institutions abroad.
“TNE presents a wide range of opportunities such as increasing access to higher education for our youth and promoting strategic alliances between countries and regions. These partnerships must, however, be built on mutual respect, shared objectives, and a commitment to nurturing talent and promoting global citizenship,” he said.
Maiyaki, who stressed the need to integrate technology into the delivery of university education to ensure its resilience in a post-COVID-19 world, said by harnessing the power of innovation, the institutions can foster sustainable university-industry partnerships that transcend traditional boundaries.
“These partnerships will allow us to align our curricula with the evolving needs of the job market, creating graduates who are not only well-versed in theory but also possess the practical skills demanded by employers.
“Furthermore, collaboration with industries will enable our universities to conduct impactful research that addresses real-world challenges that continue to impact mankind, so as to secure tangible socio-economic development.
He charged university academia with a collective responsibility to address the challenges before it and forge a path toward a stronger and more resilient future for higher education in Africa.
According to him, “to ensure that graduates of the Continent are fully equipped with the required skills and knowledge to succeed in the 21st century, we must constantly strive to improve and update our educational programmes in consonance with the realities of global best practices.
“Higher education must shift to offer every student opportunities for the continuous refinement of the skills needed employment in a competitive world.
“One of such innovative steps, taken, recently, by the National Universities Commission, as part of its efforts to reposition the Nigerian University System for excellence and global competitiveness, is the launch of the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) for the 17 disciplines in the Nigerian University System, with emphasis on the acquisition of 21st century employability and entrepreneurial skills.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. David Adejo, said there was a great prospect for African universities to make progress in the post-covid-19 era.
Adejo said Africa was fortunate because predictions about the severity of the pandemic in the continent did come true, however, the continent has not been able to properly deal with the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
According to him, the initiative for establishing Forum for Innovation in African Universities, FIAU, in 2019, was a direct response to the adverse effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the educational sector in Africa.
He commended FIAU for encouraging knowledge exchange and working closely with regional and global partners to pool resources to support African universities, adding that this is what the continent needs in the post-covid era to enable it overcome the challenges it brought.
“This will definitely impact the upskilling of the teaching profession and personal to digitize and utilize content as well as course materials,” he said.
On his part, FIAU co-founder, Prof Pascal Anosike, in his remarks, said African universities have made remarkable progress on areas of curriculum review and private sector investment, but more still needs to be done in widening access and improving employability rate.
Anosike called for the use of modern technology to support students’ learning, adding that his organization wants to strengthen the capacity of African universities to tackle these challenges.
He further stated that his organization’s mission is to bring together people who have the power to push forward ideas, build trust, and mobilise resources to drive the new vision of accelerating innovation in African universities.