By BBC World Service International Publicity
Published October 19, 2009
In a week of special programming (October 19-23, 2009), BBC Hausa Service examines the state of Nigeria’s higher education and the effect on it of protracted university strikes.
Running at 5.30 GMT daily, BBC, in a series called “the Demise of skilled workforce?” explores the realities of university education in Nigeria and asks whether the country’s university graduates can be relied upon as the country’s future workforce.
The education system in post-independence Nigeria was the pride of the country. With high-quality research and learning in the educational institutions, the country was able to export skilled and knowledgeable graduates. Nigeria’s university graduates were a workforce sought after across Africa. Today, however, things are changing as regular strikes by university teachers as well as student riots are becoming the order of the day.
That former Central Bank Governor of Nigeria, Prof Charles Soludo, once said that the vast majority of Nigerian graduates are ‘unemployable’ mainly because they lack the necessary skills required by high-tech and manufacturing industries may not be surprising to observers of the situation.
In 2009, Nigerian universities stayed closed for four months due to disagreement between university staff and the Nigerian government over pay and funding. The situation has been assessed by some observers as a cumulative effect of neglect by successive Nigerian governments of the public education sector, in a setup in which the children of the well-to-do and top government officials are sent abroad for their studies.
“In recent years,” BBC Hausa Service head, Jamilah Tangaza,says,”Nigerian universities have been criticised as ‘breeding grounds for half-baked graduates’.”
Tangaza adds that “incessant strikes may mean that the country’s future workforce is in real jeopardy” and that “the current impasse between the government and the unions spell doom for a country whose president wants Nigeria to be among the 20 most developed countries of the world by 2020.”
While a university don, Prof Umaru Pate, offers his analysis of the situation, BBC Hausa’s Ibrahim Isa talks to a parent whose children are at home because of the strike and who cannot afford to send them overseas.
The BBC also talks to Nigeria’s Minister of State for Education, Aisha Jibril Dukku, to find out whether the reason why government officials are seen as paying little attention to the country’s education system is because most of them send their children overseas to get good education.
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BBC Hausa’s Nurah Ringim takes a trip to a textile company in the northern Nigerian State of Kaduna to find out what measures industries are taking to bring graduate engineers up to standard. The journalist gauges the concern of industrialists over the quality of Nigerian graduates and how this concern is affecting their businesses. What do they make of the incessant strikes by universities in Nigeria and their impact on the workforce they employ?
During the four months of the latest strike action in 2009, dozens of students were arrested for armed robbery, prostitution and petty crimes. BBC Hausa’s Shehu Saulawa reports about the concerns and fears of parents and students alike, and the social, economic and political costs of the continuing strike.