Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Nigerian University and Manpower Development in a Changing World

Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Nigerian University and Manpower Development in a Changing World

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper examines Nigerian university system in relation to manpower development in a rapidly changing world of work. This is for purposes of identifying areas that need urgent attention in order to reposition the system to produce high quality manpower. The study reveals that the expansion in the university system is characterized by a mixed bag of limited success, and continuing challenges. For Nigerian university to fulfill its objective effectively, the system needs to be systematically planned in order to produce graduates that are versatile enough to acquire competitive positions as well as generate their own employment.

Keywords: university, expansion, competitiveness, planning, exponential

1. Introduction

Knowledge and skill that emanate from the pursuit of education are utilitarian because they upliftthe individual by giving him the comportment, awareness and the desire to serve and thus transform society. Thus, education is a social project whose object is the relationship between man and nature and how the transformation of this can lead to social development. In principle, every society or community aspires towards stability and progress, thus, education is usually treated with considerable respect and interest (Abubakar, 2004). This is to be expected, especially of developing countries that place a high premium on education as a panacea for socio-economic development.

However, the recognition of the utilitarian value of education and the creation of structures and stages for its actualization do not imply that the views on and attitudes towards education as an agent of change and development, are universal, all-embracing and accessible to all. This means that every society's approach to the educational question varies from the perspective of time and place or indeed from the dictates of historical circumstances. Inevitably, the nature, scope and orientation of educational system vary in response to time, perception and interest. Expectedly, the National Policy on Education (2002) directs the focus of Nigerian university towards achieving the following objectives:

development and inculcation of proper value-orientation for the survival of the individual and society; development of the intellectual capacities of the individuals to understand and appreciate their environments; acquisition of both physical and intellectual skills which will enable the individuals to develop into useful members of the community; and the acquisition of an objective view of national and international environments.

In the post-independence era, the development of university education closely followed the evolution of the country from the debris of colonialism, its crisis of underdevelopment and its current transition into corporate, globalised capitalism with its attendant rupture of the general principles of the welfare state. This schema entails a disorderly oscillation between the developmentalist and the entrepreneurial path in the evolution and growth of universities (Abubakar, 2004). In the first place, universities were created to produce manpower for development in an essentially state regulated economy in which government has been an active player. The guiding principle in this project was the training of persons to acquire the requisite knowledge, leadership skill and commitment to national development, integration and liberal humanism.

In direct proportion to this notion of public good, all levels of government-local, state and Centre-built and funded educational institutions to actualize the objectives of university education. Consequently, in 1960, Ashby Commission recommended the establishment of the first generation universities in the following sequence:

Ø The University of Nigeria, Nsukka was established in 1960 by the then Eastern Regional Government as the first Nigerian initiated university;

Ø The University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now ObafemicAwolowo University) though not recommended by Ashby Commission, was founded in 1961 by the then government of Western Region; and

Ø The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was founded in 1962 by the then Northern Regional Government. …

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