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85% of Nigerian graduates have no digital skills – Report

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More than 85 per cent of Nigeria’s graduates have no digital skills, a survey by GetBundi, an online education technology outfit, has shown.

The outcome of the survey, according to Mr Osita Oparaugo, the Chief Executive Officer of the outfit, shows that the more than 100 million young people are not prepared to take up good job opportunities that required such modern skills.

“There is an overwhelming digital skills gap that has been linked to the high unemployment rate in Nigeria.

“The lack of digital skills has been named as a major reason why many graduates produced yearly from the country’s tertiary institutions are unable to secure employment in the labour market,” he pointed out in a statement in Lagos.

To buttress the point, Oparaugo said that a 2023 survey conducted by GetBundi Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and Digital Skill Education Technology Company involving 100 NYSC members showed that only 19 of them had any form of digital skill.

“Even that skill was mostly Microsoft Excel and basic knowledge.

“All of the seven that had basic knowledge of programming, machine learning and data science studied outside Nigeria – five in the UK, one in the United States and one in Malaysia.

“Most of them are active on social media as 89 have active Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, and 11 have LinkedIn accounts.

“However, they have little or no knowledge of any digital skills. About 15 carry one form of science-based field certificate or the other but have no practical knowledge when tested in their areas of study.

“This situation, at a time when digital skills rule the world, is worrisome, though the young people are not entirely to blame.

“The education system takes a huge chunk of the blame. The education system has often been criticised, and rightly, for not being updated with the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

“The curriculum used in many Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions is outdated and does not adequately cover the practical aspect of relevant digital skills.

“Practical digital skills that would better prepare the youths for jobs and self-employment are all lacking in the current education system.”

He argued that government had recognised the need to address this issue and took steps to promote digital literacy and skill development among youths.

“Some of the efforts include initiatives such as coding boot camps, online training platforms, partnerships with technology companies, and entrepreneurship programs that focus on digital innovation, he said.

“These initiatives aim to provide Nigerian youths with opportunities to learn and apply digital skills, thereby increasing their employability and entrepreneurial prospects,” he added.

He noted, however, that addressing the issue required the collaborations.

“It requires a collaborative effort among government, educational institutions, private sector organisations and individuals to provide accessible and relevant digital skills training to Nigerian youths.

“Addressing the digital skills gap among youths graduates requires a multi-pronged approach.

“In this regard, Getbundi, has articulated some strategies that can be implemented and one of them is to update educational curriculum
in secondary and tertiary institutions.

“Most schools use outdated and irrelevant curriculum to teach students, which is devoid of digital skills.

“To equip these youths for the digital economy, it is pertinent that the curriculum is updated with relevant skills such as coding, data analysis, cybersecurity, among others.

“We must also promote digital literacy programmes that target individuals who are already in the workforce or have limited educational opportunities.

“These programmes can offer training workshops, online courses and resources to enhance digital skills.

“Public-private partnerships can be formed to increase the reach and effectiveness of such initiatives.

“We must also strengthen digital infrastructure to improve access to reliable internet connectivity across the country.

“This can be done by expanding broadband infrastructure and reducing the cost of internet services.

“Access to affordable and reliable internet is crucial for individuals to acquire and enhance digital skills, so we must raise awareness and change mindsets and try to highlight the importance of digital skills in the current job market and overall societal development.

“This can help change mindsets and encourage individuals, parents, and employers to prioritise digital skills acquisition and support relevant initiatives.

“Individuals should be encouraged to pursue online courses, attend workshops and participate in digital activities to stay updated with evolving technologies and acquire new skills.

“The arrival of the fourth industrial revolution has, no doubt, ushered in a new era of globalisation, with significant changes and disruptions across various industries, necessitating the prioritisation of digital skills.”

To further address the digital skills gap in Nigeria and Africa, especially among Nigerian graduates, Oparaugo said that GetBundi had developed STEM-related courses for secondary school students, based on the West African School Certificate curriculum.

“We also have digital skills courses to equip everyone, young or old, with relevant 21st Century job-ready skills.

“Our platform also has micro-sliced courses for impactful learning with 107 skillful instructors.

“Individuals can get verified and go remote after learning some digital skills such as coding, artificial intelligence, graphics, video editing, cybersecurity, and much more in less than six months.

“Getbundi believes that equipping Nigerian youths with relevant digital skills can help build a skilled workforce better equipped to meet the demands of the modern economy,” he said.

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Education

ASUP gives FG 15-day ultimatum to suspend NBTE’s scheme of service

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By: Austine Agbo Emmanuel, Kaduna

The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, (ASUP) Zone A has rejected the new scheme of service, (SOS) introduced to Polytechnics by the National Board for Technical Education, (NBTE)

This is as the Union said that the initiative is an intentional move by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and NBTE to sow discord within the Polytechnic sector.

Addressing Journalists during the Zonal Executive Officer’s Meeting of ASUP, beld in Kaduna on Thursday, the Zonal Coordinator, for ASUP, Zone A Dr. Abdulazeez Ibrahim Badaru disclosed that they have given Federal Government 15-day ultimatum to suspend the SOS otherwise the union will not hesitate to embark on a strike action.

Dr. Badaru who also condemned the preferential treatment given to Bachelor degrees over Higher National Diploma, (HND) in the appointment of Registrars and Bursars, stressed that the documents bias against HND undermines progress even as he noted that the Polytechnic should not discriminate against their products.

“The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) released a document titled “‘Schem of Service for Polytechnics” which lacks inclusive stakeholder input, particularly from our union and stakeholders in the polytechnic sector.

“It diverges significantly from a
previously prepared document following extensive consultations and engagements that started since 2012, is seen as an intentional move by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and the NBTE to sow discord within the polytechnic sector. The current document is opposed unless all points of contention are addressed.

“The importation of sub-tertiary level qualifications, such as the National SkilIs Qualifications (NSQ), as obligatory prerequisites for the career advancement of academic staff within the polytechnic is deemed laughable.

“The NSQ lacks substantive value in enhancing the delivery of curricula at the tertiary level in polytechnics, serving as an undue burden without corresponding professional development. Consequently, we vehemently reject its inclusion as a mandatory criterion for academic staff career advancement.

“There is a concerning inconsistency in the entry points for Graduate Assistants, with the NBTE document lowering the bar for Bachelor degree holders while disadvantaging HND holders. Equivalent grades such as Second Class Lower and Lower Credit, should be required at the Graduate Assistant level to ensure fairness.

“The preferential treatment given to Bachelor degrees over HND qualification for the appointment of Registrars and Bursars is discriminatory. The document bias against HND holders undermine progress against this unacceptable practice. The Polytechnics should not discriminate against their graduates.

“We wish to stress that we studied the document thoroughly and we are committed to pursuit these issues to their logical conclusions. It is crucial to highlight that we have issued a 15-day ultimatum to the Federal Government effective from 8th July, 2024 to suspend the implementation of this rough work called scheme of service for the polytechnics or face diverse form of industrial action by our Union.” Badaru, said.

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Education

ASUP calls for sack of NBTE Executive Secretary over controversial service scheme 

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From Dennis Udoma, Uyo

The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), has called on the Federal Government to sack the Executive Secretary of National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Prof Idris Bugaje for allegedly conspiring with the Head of Service of the Federation to introduce contrversial scheme of service which counteracts with the welfare of members.

ASUP Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic Chapter, Ikot Osurua, Comrade Eteyen Uko said this in Uyo in a chat with newsmen on Thursday.

Uko, said ASUP would not back out on their position against the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi – Esan on the drafting of the new service scheme done in connivance with the Executive Secretary, asking for it’s reversal.

Uko expressed anger that the  NBTE Secretary  could not  defend  Academic Staff of Polytechnics  but rather conspired to spite the lecturers through  some vexatious clauses in the new service scheme adding that, the Executive Secretary  perpetuated the BSc and HND dichotomy whose bill to abrogate the disparity has gone through the first and second readings in the National Assembly.
ASUP chairman further explained that, the union will continue to kick against the new scheme of service because, while it takes the University Lecturers  18 years to become a professor; it takes the Polytechnic Lecturers 26 years to become a Chief Lecturer, which is equivalent to a university professor.

According to him, “There was a scheme of service since 1989 and later renewed in 2013 and 2019 respectively. Eventually, we saw another scheme just published by the Head of Service of the Federation Dr Folasade Yemi- Esan in collaboration with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).

“ASUP has kicked against that scheme of service in totality. Reason is that there are so many discrepancies and observations as far as the new scheme of service is concerned.

“The stakeholders in Polytechnics system were not carried along . The Head of Service just signed it as a document that was presented by the Executive Secretary of NBTE, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics was not carried along and we kick against it.

“The drafting and approval of the new  scheme of service shouldn’t have been done by the Head of Service of the federation because she is not our employer and regulator of the Polytechnic education which is wrong”.

The ASUP chairman continued to enumerate the grey areas in the new service scheme for Academic staff of Polytechnics to include; splitting of the senior Lecturer level and elongation of the Lecturer cadre to 9 steps structure requiring a minimum of 26 years to reach the topmost level in the Polytechnic system.

” You know the system of Nigeria that you graduate at the age of 26 , it takes you 30 to 40 years of age to gain employment with the government and if you are employed as a Graduate Assistant,you can not attain the rank.of Chief Lecturer in the Polytechnic when you retired.

” Our retirement age is 65 years. So assuming you are employed at 40 , this means you can not be a Chief Lecturer.

” We are not struggling anything  with the University, our own is the Polytechnic sector and we are dealing with technological base . In the University system , it 3 years as a Senior Lecturer . Why do you we have  4 years in the Polytechnic system and you have to stay for years each as Lecturer 1& 2 .

He maintained that, NBTE Secretary scheming to suppress Polytechnic graduates which the National Assembly is trying to address through the bill before it.

” They don’t want to regard HND graduates as anything from what we have seen. But that does not mean that somebody that has first degree is better than the HND graduates.

“In this institution, we have been going for competition with the University students and we come out first ,second and third. They are university while we are Polytechnics with different regulatory bodies”.

Comrade Uko therefore, called on the federal government to set up National Polytechnic Commission like the university counterpart to address injustices done to Polytechnics system to save it from total collapse.

He said education should be inclusive not segregative by creating disparities among graduates.

“Although this is not part of the present struggle but We are agitating that the federal government should establish National Polytechnic Commission ( NPC).

“As a matter of urgency, the federal government and National Board for Technical Education (NBTE ) should suspend the controversial scheme of service to save the Polytechnic system from collapse as many will not want to neither be  students nor Lecturers in the Polytechnic system”, he said.

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Education

Kwasu expels 175 students

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The management of Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, says it has expelled 175 students for various offences.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Director of  University Relations, Dr Saeedat Aliyu, on Tuesday.

The university management said that the expulsion approval followed the recommendations of the Students’ Disciplinary Committee, which held sittings between Oct. 2021 and March 2024.

The management said  the expelled students were penalised for offences ranging from examination malpractice, theft, using fake results to gain admission, assault, fraud, belonging to unregistered associations and possession of firearm.

”The management of KWASU wishes to reiterate its zero-tolerance for all acts of indiscipline as the institution stands firm on producing graduates, who are excellent both in character and in learning,” Aliyu said.

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