By Wale Akinselure
Worried about the quality of engineering graduates in the country, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) has tasked academic staff on outcome-based teaching of Nigerian Engineering programmes in the nation’s universities.
According to Registrar, COREN, Professor Joseph Odigure, the need for lecturers to acquire the needed skill to teach and orientate students to merge theory with practical knowledge had become more imperative than ever.
Like many other resource persons at the COREN regional train-the-trainers workshop held at the University of Ibadan, on Wednesday, Odigure bemoaned the existence of several graduates who were unproductive and unskilled.
Maintaining that curriculum was not the bane of engineering graduates that cannot engineer or produce, Odigure said the task was on lecturers to enable their students to appreciate that their study is market-driven, sellable and can earn them a good life.
Specifically, he said lecturers must engender outlets where their students go to mechanic villages where they can merge theory with practical knowledge.
Furthermore, he stressed the need for lecturers to help fill the knowledge and skill gaps among engineering graduates and develop a new crop of engineering practitioners, regulators and professionals.
Odigure said: “The biggest concern is that we have graduates in the street that are unproductive and are becoming very dangerous to the society. We now talk of Yahoo boys, yahoo plus; these are not just uneducated people; most of them are graduates but lack the skill and consequently, they don’t have what it takes to live and they find themselves driven into some of these atrocities.
“We need to see a society where people are productive and it is at tertiary institutions that we can train these people. COREN is trying to bring skill into teaching. Lecturers should teach to give the students the appreciation that what they are doing is market-driven, sellable and is something that can change the lifestyle of the graduates.
“Students must have the outlet to acquire skill; students must have the outlet to merge theory and practical knowledge. It is a win-win situation. For example, I send a student to the mechanic village and the mechanic on their own will learn certain theoretical skills from these students that will help them in better management of the human and material resources they have.
“On the other hand, the students will learn the skill that is required and find more ways to be more innovative, to create the entrepreneurial drive to be the manager of resources.”
The workshop for implementation of outcome-based education in engineering programmes was attended by over 120 academic staff drawn across various universities in the South-West geopolitical zone of the country.
One of the resource persons, Professor Baba El-Yakubu of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria bemoaned a situation where the nation was importing products that ordinarily could be produced locally.
El-Yakubu said it had become imperative for university lecturers to know the best teaching and learning process to be adopted so that graduates will perform according to expectations.
El-Yakubu said: “Engineers are supposed to engineer. If we are importing products from outside the country that ordinarily could be produced by indigenes, then we have a problem. This is to help university professors to be able to teach so that the graduates of engineering programmes will produce goods and services that are expected from engineers.
“The most important challenge is the quality of engineering graduates. Everybody is aware that Nigerian engineering graduates are not performing to the expectations of society. But this workshop is designed to look at this problem from the root cause: the teaching and learning process. The workshop is to train the university professors on the best way of teaching and learning process so that our graduates will perform according to expectations.”
One of the participants, Dr Odesola Folorunso of the University of Ibadan said lecturers had become bound to upgrade their skills to meet market needs, align with international best practices and produce graduates that are skilled and capable of delivering to expectations.
Another participant, Professor Olubanke Ogunlana from Covenant University noted the need for students to do their apprenticeship with artisans at mechanic workshops for them to put to practice theoretical knowledge learnt in the classroom. (Tribune )