“ADVANCING MOBILITY OF ENGINEERING PRACTITIONERS THROUGH OUTCOME BASED ENGINEERING CURRICULUM IN NIGERIA”.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT OF COREN, ENGR. ALI A. RABIU, FNSE, FASCE, FAEng, MFR AT THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY OF ENGINEERS (NSE) ABEOKUTA BRANCH
The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) is concerned about the lack of opportunities for practitioners in Nigeria. Practitioners are really not involved in the country’s developmental efforts thus leading to a high rate of unemployment and low economic engagement. Various steps have been taken to address these problems including public and private sector engagement. There have been concerns among employers of engineering graduates about new graduates’ lack of soft skills and practical knowledge hence leading to the Council’s strong voice for reform of engineering education in Nigeria.
There is also anxiety about the deficiencies associated with motivation including attractive salary structure and working environment for engineering practitioners. These are particularly relevant to the observed decreasing numbers of students interested in the various engineering training opportunities.
After a thorough study including stakeholders’ engagement, the need to review the entire curriculum of training of the various engineering practitioners and adoption of international best practices came to the fore. For the Engineers, the Council has adopted the Outcome Based Education curriculum of the Washington Accord as part of the International Engineering Alliance (IEA). The adoption is aimed at improving the quality and productivity of Nigerian Engineering graduates including creating possible mobility across the World.
This paper will therefore discuss the problem associated with engineering practice in Nigeria, COREN’s important mandates of determining the standard of knowledge required for persons interested in practising engineering and the efforts of the Council in the quest at becoming a member of the IEA through being a signatory of the Washington Accord and others in the near future.
2.0 Engineering Practice in Nigeria.
Engineering is the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences, gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgement to develop ways to utilize, economically, the material and the forces of nature for the benefit of mankind.
Engineering is directed at developing, providing and maintaining infrastructure, goods and services for industry and community. Engineering, therefore, plays a key role in the development of nations through the design, construction and development of Infrastructures and Industrial Systems. Consequently, the activities of Engineering impact the environment and the quality of life, health and safety of the people.
The engineering “invisible hand” is present in almost everything that you and others use and depend upon each and every day and in all things that improve the quality of life. Engineering has key roles to play in Housing, Roads, Railways, Telecommunication, Power Supply, Water Supply, transport etc.
As a profession, it is a peculiar type of functional group with highly specialised characteristics that include expertise, skill, responsiveness and corporates. It also involves skilled application derived from a distinctive body of knowledge, which is acquired through education and professional formation including integration with business and management.
Engineering is therefore the application of the understanding, knowledge, skills and know-how (as appropriate) of scientific, mathematical and technological principles in a business context to achieve an economic solution. Hence, engineering requires innovation, creativity and flair focused on the design process.
The characteristics of the engineering profession include:
• Command of a specialized body of knowledge.
• Recognized training and regularly updated.
• Governed by Code of Ethics to the satisfaction and safety of the society;
• Monopoly is usually granted to a professional;
• Members are committed to constant educational renewal;
• With various categories of Professional Associations that regulate themselves;
In specific, the Professional Associations have the following functions:
Establishing and monitoring the professional standards and codes of practice,
Regulation and control of practice including discipline;
Advising educational institutions on curriculum development,
Promoting and providing professional and career development activities,
Maintaining a professional library for members,
Promoting the profession in society,
Producing regular publications on current issues; e.g. newsletters, journals or magazines, etc.
The following Engineering Professional Associations are recognized in Nigeria:
The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE);
The National Association of Technologists in Engineering (NATE);
The Nigerian Society of Engineering Technicians (NISET);
The National Association of Engineering Craftsmen (NAEC).
The Association for Consulting Engineering in Nigeria (ACEN)
3.0. The Mandates of COREN.
Regulation of the engineering profession is established by various jurisdictions of the world to encourage public welfare, safety, well-being and other interests of the general public, and to define the training and licensure/registration process through which an engineer becomes authorized to practice engineering and /or provide engineering professional services to the public. The body charged with the mandate to regulate and control the Engineering profession in Nigeria is the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, (COREN).
COREN was established with the following mandates:
Regulate and control engineering practice in Nigeria in all its aspects and ramifications;
Ensure that engineering is practised by industry, government and professionals according to acceptable and prescribed standards and abiding by the ethics and cannons of the profession;
Ensure appropriate training and use of engineering personnel.
With the Vision “to promote and ensure the highest standards of professionalism in engineering practice in Nigeria” the Council’s main activities include:
Accreditation of Engineering programs in all engineering institutions;
Setting up the Engineering Regulation Monitoring (ERM), and appointment of inspectors in various inspectorates in the six geo-political zones in the country.
Establishment of Investigating Panel and Tribunal to handle cases involving engineering personnel.
All engineering personnel from clients, contractors and consultants are held accountable for all projects handled by them.
Non-engineering personnel involved in the failure of any engineering infrastructure project are handed to the police for prosecution.
Licensing of Practitioners, Engineering Consultants and Engineering firms.
For the purpose of this paper, I will like to refer to Section 1, (1)b of the COREN Act (as amended) in which the Council has the mandate to:
“Determining what standards of knowledge and skill are to be attained by persons seeking to become registered as engineering practitioner and raising those standards from time to time as circumstances may permit”.
In Section 9 (6) of the COREN Act 2018 (As Amended):
“An education institution for the training of persons in the engineering profession shall submit a syllabus of its programme, content and minimum facilities to the Council for approval before a course approved by the National Universities Commission or the National Board for Technical Education or any other engineering body is commenced”.
Over the years, COREN has operated the provisions as stated above and has inaugurated various curricula for the four categories of practitioners, including Engineers, Engineering Technologists, Engineering Technicians and Engineering craftsmen.
The Council had also reviewed the curriculum within the exigency of the time and particularly when it realized that Engineering education was becoming more challenging due to the ever-increasing pressure from the industrial demands on graduates’ skills and attributes. The engineering program educators tried several methods to inculcate these newly demanded skill gaps in the students through various activities and engagements in several engineering courses. Since gone are the times when firms would invest in a graduate patiently for a year and begin to reap harvests only in the candidate’s later years of employment. With attrition levels falling, the requirement is to have a team of skilled employees who will be able to start generating business from their early days in employment. Thus, the requirement is that the universities and institutes prepare industry-ready graduates who have a strong understanding of the industry scenario and display attributes of problem-solving, analytical of mind, etc. Thus, by the completion of a 5-year degree programme, the student should be able to practice the engineering principles and also demonstrate results achieved.
To make sure that the problem is well discussed, COREN organized a stakeholders meeting involving Deans of Nigerian Universities, Lecturers and practitioners in public and private sectors. The outcome of the meeting included the production of the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard (BMAS) for Engineering education in Nigerian Universities and Accreditation Scoring Criteria.
The BMAS was submitted for critical review by a team of selected Professors and later to engineering bodies across Africa, UNESCO and Malaysia. The International Science and Innovation Centre for South-South Cooperation (ISTIC) under the auspices of UNESCO with its head office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia invited COREN for a presentation. COREN was admitted as a member of the Federation of Engineering Institutions of Asia and the Pacific (FEIAP).
The stakeholders meeting also revealed that Nigerian Engineering Education is facing three major challenges – (i) a lack of motivated Engineering Students to be prepared for future demands, (ii) strong concerns among employers of engineering graduates about new graduates’ lack of soft-skills and (iii) the need to improve engineering mobility for practitioners.
COREN, therefore, recognized the strong pressure to reform engineering education in Nigeria due to three important factors.
among Engineering Students, there has been a decline in the strong motivation for learning that is necessary for producing good engineering graduates ready for engineering careers. This raises concerns about the quantity and quality of engineering graduates to meet the industry’s needs, as Nigeria transits to a manufacturing economy under strict compliance with clean energy commitment.
There are general concerns among employers of engineering graduates about new graduates’ lack of soft skills such as interpersonal, critical thinking, creativity, communication and teamwork skills. This is important because it has been recognized that, in the future; engineering jobs will be done either by computers or by engineers who have soft skills.
To improve engineering mobility for practitioners,
Based on these challenges, COREN became desirous to join Washington Accord (WA), under International Engineering Alliance (IEA). Washington Accord Signatories have adopted Outcome-Based Engineering Curricula and Programs Accreditation Systems. In a quest to formulate desired long-term educational objectives relevant to Nigerian economic development and design appropriate teaching/learning processes, COREN responded to this reality to explore international best practices. The main objective was to reposition Engineering Programmes in Nigerian Universities to meet societal needs in terms of graduates’ attributes – knowledge, skills and attitudes – commensurate to the current reality. Specifically, the attempt to join WA and the requirement thereof exposed both the strengths and weaknesses of the Nigerian Engineering curricula and COREN accreditation process and the implementation of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) in Engineering Programs in Nigeria.
4.0. Outcome-Based Education
Outcome-Based Education (OBE), especially as it relates to engineering? According to William G. Spady, the father of modern OBE:
Outcome-Based Education means clearly focusing and organizing everything in an educational system around what is essential for all students to be able to do successfully at the end of their learning experiences. This means starting with a clear picture of what is important for students to be able to do, then organizing curriculum, instruction, and assessment to make sure this learning ultimately happens.
So, using this description, the first requirement of the OBE is the specification of both short- and long-term attributes – knowledge, skills and attitudes – that student must exhibit. As shown in figure 1, these are categorized into; Program Education Objectives (PEOs) (to be achieved 3-5 years after graduation) and Programme Outcomes (POs) (to be achieved by the time of graduation). The PEOs are defined based on stakeholders’ needs (or general societal expectations from the graduates) and are mapped to POs in such a way that achieving the POs (in the short-term), would lead to PEOs (in the long-term, i.e., 3-5years after graduation). Then the programme structure and the curriculum are developed to achieve the POs.
Figure 1: Major Components of Outcome-Based Education Framework
However, as in many situations, the “devil is always in the details”. An interesting question that OBE addresses are ‘how could the teaching processes be designed to provide learning experiences that may lead to the desired outcomes’? Intractably interwoven with this question is the need for (i) appropriate student-support services and (ii) adequate learning resources. Answering this question makes it easier to decide on (a) assessment approaches, (b) attainment levels, (c) performance standards and (d) benchmarking. Under quality management, OBE expects somebody to oversee all these components individually and the results of their combinations. As is well known, “what gets measured, gets managed”. The three components (a-c, dashed-lined box, in the figure) are measured in a short period (say every semester) and evaluated for reliable management of student attributes. Based on the foregoing, recently, COREN developed ten new Accreditation Criteria for Nigerian Engineering Programs.
5.0. COREN OBE Implementation: Progress Timeline
The followings give the chronology of the build-up to the commencement of Outcome-based Engineering Education in Nigeria by COREN:
3rd-6th Dec 2014 – COREN attended World Engineering Education Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
5th-6th Dec 2014 – COREN participated in the Workshop on Fundamentals of Program Assessment, organized by ABET.
17th-22nd July 2016 -The high-level Policy Forum on Engineering Accreditation Mobility in Africa which was organized by COREN in Nigeria, in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Science Technology and Innovation Centre (ISTIC) for South-South Cooperation and Federation of Engineering Institutions of Asia and the Pacific (FEIAP).
The forum had among the Resource Persons two delegates from the Board of Engineers Malaysia (Ir. Prof. Dr Chuah Hean Teik and Ir. Dr Tan Chee Fai) that came to serve as FEIAP Review Panel to assess COREN Accreditation System. The two Senior Engineers from Malaysia who constituted the FEIAP Review Panel went on a visit with the COREN team, for them to assess the COREN accreditation system at the Federal University of Technology, Minna and Bayero University, Kano.
The FEIAP Review Panel was of the opinion that, although the BMAS of COREN contains Learning Outcomes of the programme, the Outcome Based Education was not fully understood by Faculty administration, Academic Staff and students from both FUT, Minna and BUK. After going through the BMAS document and undertaking the field trips to the two institutions, the FEIAP Review Panel recommended that COREN should shift from Input–Based accreditation to Outcome-Based accreditation, emphasizing the need to show how each course taught contributes to the attainment of graduate attributes.
11th -14th May 2017- A three-day workshop on “Outcome-based Engineering Education and Review of Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard (BMAS) for Engineering Undergraduate Programmes in Nigerian Universities”, held at Renaissance Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. Various practitioners of engineering from the industry and academia were in attendance including, Ir. Dr Tan Chee Fai and Ir. Lee Boon Chong from the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM).
The discussions that followed led to the adoption of the twelve Programme Outcomes of the Washington Accord to replace the nine Learning Outcomes for the Engineering Programmes in Nigeria in the 2014 edition of BMAS. Some other sections of the 2014 edition of BMAS were also reviewed as an outcome of this workshop to produce the 2017 edition.
19th -23rd June,2017 – International Engineering Alliance (IEA) Meetings at Anchorage, Alaska, USA. COREN made a presentation on “Overview of the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard (BMAS) and Accreditation Scoring Criteria for Undergraduate Engineering Programmes in Nigerian Universities” to the governing body of IEA. A team of five persons led by the President of COREN, Engr. Kashim A. Ali.
24th -29th June, 2018- COREN team led by Engr. Kashim A . Ali was in attendance at 2018, IEA Meetings in London, England.
9th 15th September, 2018 – In Country High-Level Accreditation Visit by Dato’ Abdul Rashid Bin Maidin; DatukWiraMdSidek Bin Ahmad; and Ir. Assoc. Prof. Abdul Aziz Bin Omar from BEM, and Eng. Dr. Khan Nasir Mahmood; and Eng. Saeed-Ur-Rehman from PEC.
9th -14th June, 2019- COREN was in attendance at the IEA Meeting in Hong Kong. COREN Team which included the current President (Engr. Ali A. Rabiu), the immediate past President (Engr. Kashim Ali), the Registrar (Engr. Prof. J.O. Odigure), the past Registrar (Engr. Wopa Maliki Kamila), the President of Nigerian Society of Engineers (Engr. Adekunle O. Mokuolu), and five others.
A presentation was made in support of COREN’s application for Provisional Signatory status before the Washington Accord Signatories. The application was not successful as some Signatories identified some areas in which further improvement needed to be made by COREN.
The main weaknesses or concerns pointed out by the Washington Accord Signatories were: lack of adequate explanation of how COREN is fully independent of government, not having established a full training programme for training Programme Evaluators for Outcome-based Assessment and not yet have many years of experience in running Outcome-based Engineering Education and level of quality and safety culture among staff and students.
14th June, 2019- IEA Train-the-Trainer Session (Accords) coordinated by Chairman of Washington Accord, Dr. Andrew Woo and attended by all COREN delegates.
July – August, 2019-COREN Developed and inaugurated the Outcome-based Engineering Education Manual.
22nd -23rd August, 2019- COREN organized an Outcome-based Engineering Education Accreditation workshop for universities held in Abuja. 51 participants from 15 universities were in attendance.
7th- 12th October, 2019- COREN team of Engr. Prof. J.O. Odigure and Engr. Prof. S.Z. Abubakar paid a visit to BEM in Malaysia. As a side event participated in BEM accreditation visit to the Civil Engineering programme at City University Malaysia, at Selangor DarulEhsan.
14th -18th October, 2019- COREN team of Engr. Dr. C.U. Nwoji, Engr. Prof. J.A. Olorunmaiye, and Engr. D.A. Okodugha attended the 2nd Pakistan Engineering Council Deans’ Meeting in Islamabad – Pakistan. As a side event attended the PEC accreditation visit to the National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan for an Outcome-based Assessment of their bachelor of engineering degree programme in Mechanical Engineering.
August to December, 2019 – Outcome-based Engineering Education Workshops were held in some universities. 215 members of Faculty & Staff in the College of Engineering and Academic Planning Unit attended.
The topics covered were:
OBE and Engineering Learning Outcomes; Bloom’s Taxonomy and OBE Curriculum;
Stakeholders for OBE in Nigerian universities;
COREN OBE Accreditation Criteria;
Assessment and Evaluation;
COREN Accreditation: Process, Assessment and Evaluation;
COREN Accreditation: Team and Outcomes;
Template for COREN Self-Study Assessment Report;
Engineering Graduate Attributes and Mapping of Outcomes;
Qualifying Requirements and Checklist of Documents for COREN Accreditation Visits;
Development of CLOs for common Engineering courses;
Mapping of Mission to PEOs to POs; and
Prospects and Challenges of OBE Implementation in Engineering Programmes in Nigerian universities.
9th December, 2019- Outcome-based Engineering Education Workshop at Abuja with 18 participants.
10th May, 2021- Outcome-Based Education (OBE) workshop was held for the Council Members of COREN and members of Education and Training Committee (E & T).
The aim of these workshops was to sensitize participants on the importance of OBE in the training of Engineering students and the roles they are required to play in the implementation of OBE in engineering programmes in Nigerian Universities.
The topics covered were:
Overview of OBE;
Engineering Learning Outcomes and Graduate Attributes;
COREN Accreditation Process and Evaluation; and
COREN Accreditation: Team Assessment and Outcomes.
December, 2021- XXX
January to December, 2022- Mobilization and COREN promote awareness of the introduction of OBE which involved academic and administrative staff in the University which should include an introduction, the philosophical aspect, the execution of OBE and other related issues in Engineering curriculum, including the inaugurated Programme Evaluator Guidelines.
COREN is presently concluding preparation and documentation to submit a new application for consideration at 2023, IEA General Assembly.
6.0. The International Engineering Alliance and Washington Accord
The International Engineering Alliance (IEA), is an umbrella organization for six multi-lateral agreements which establish and enforce amongst their members’ inter-nationally-benchmarked standards for engineering education and what is termed “entry-level” competence to practice engineering.
The IEA’s vision is to improve the global quality, productivity and mobility of engineers by being an accepted independent authority on best practices in standards, assessment and monitoring of engineering education and professional competence. The Washington Accord resides under the IEA alongside the Sydney and Dublin Accords. Quality engineers are developed with an accord-recognized degree or equivalent, through experience after graduation to develop both professional and personal maturity, and by meeting an agreed competence typically measured by evaluation against certain criteria.
The Washington Accord is a self-governing, autonomous agreement between national organizations (signatories) that provide external accreditation to tertiary educational Programmes that qualify their graduates for entry into professional engineering practice. The signatories undertake a clearly-defined process of periodic peer review to ensure each other’s accredited Programmes are substantially equivalent and their outcomes are consistent with the published professional engineer graduate attribute exemplar. Signatories agree to grant (or recommend to the relevant national registration body, if different) graduates of each other’s accredited Programmes the same recognition, rights and privileges as they grant to graduates of their own accredited Programmes.
By these provisions, the Accord facilitates the mobility of graduates between signatory jurisdictions and a deeper understanding and recognition of their engineering education and accreditation systems. Amongst the signatories’ educational providers, adherence to local accreditation requirements that are consistent with the professional engineer graduate attribute exemplar contributes to international benchmarking of programme outcomes.
The purpose of the Washington Accord is recognition of the equivalence of Accredited Engineering Education Programs leading to the Engineering Degree and is applicable only to Engineers. It is essentially a quality assurance process and is based on world best practices.
The Washington Accord has the following basic terms of the agreement:
Accept that Accreditation procedures are comparable.
Accept one another’s accredited degrees from the date of admission as a Full Member
Agree to identify and encourage implementation of best practices.
Accept mutual monitoring.
Accept that it applies to Accreditations in home jurisdictions only.
Accept the need to encourage licensing and registration authorities to apply the Agreement.
Korea 2. Russia 3, Malaysia. 4. China 5.
South Africa 6. New Zealand 7. Australia 8. Canada 9. Ireland 10. Hong Kong China 11. Chinese Taipei 12. Singapore 13. Sri Lanka 14. Japan 15. India 16. United States 17. Turkey 18. United Kingdom 19. Costa Rica 20. Pakistan 21. Peru
Provisional Signatories are:
1. Chile 2. Thailand 3. Bangladesh 4. Mexico 5. Philippines 6. Indonesia (Recognized as having appropriate systems and processes in place to develop towards becoming a full signatory).
In view of the quest for COREN to become a signatory of the Washington accord, the use of OBE in Nigerian engineering Programmes has become imminently inevitable. COREN has set up various Programmes for the Engineering Faculties in Nigeria to facilitate their change to the OBE system.
There is an urgent need for the reform of engineering education in Nigeria. The crusade is intended at improving the quality and productivity of the graduates of the various training institutions. Nigeria needs to produce graduates who be developed into experts and international practitioners. It is the light of this that the Council’s quest to become a signatory of the Washington accord through the introduction of OBE in Nigerian engineering Programmes has become imminently inevitable.
COREN has therefore taken serious steps at advancing the set-up of various Programmes for the Engineering Faculties in Nigeria to facilitate the change to the OBE system. Guidelines documents have been produced and Workshops held at various and on different themes, focusing on achieving a change in the accreditation process. Nigerian Universities have been visited thereby encouraging them to key into the crusade.
The focus of this paper is on advancing the mobility of engineering practitioners through outcome-based engineering curricula in Nigeria.