Sub-Saharan African universities brainstorm on creating skilled work force

No fewer than 43 sub-Saharan African universities on Tuesday in Abuja began discussion on how to create skilled work force for the sub-region.
The two-day workshop was organised by the World Bank Education Team for Sub-Saharan Africa in collaboration with the Association of African Universities (AAU) and the National Universities Commission (NUC).
It is entitled “The First Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) Regional Benchmarking Capacity Building Workshop”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the discussion will focus on improving benchmark on science, technology and mathematics in universities in the sub-region.
Giving an overview of the workshop, Mrs Sajitha Bashir, Practice Manager, World Bank, said it was aimed at getting African universities to learn from one another and properly benchmark themselves.
“The essence of the workshop is to have African universities to benchmark themselves against each other, to learn from one another about how well they are doing in preparing their students for the labour market.
“We are using a very good international methodology that has been adapted to suit African conditions.
“It is an Africa-led initiative which will help African institutions to improve themselves and consider how data generated can be analysed and understood.
“It will also look at how results can be used for quality improvement purposes and discuss relevant best practices from emerging economies like Korea, Brazil and China, among others.’’
According to her, 20 African countries and 43 African universities are participating alongside representatives from Korea and China in addition to higher education regulatory bodies.
In his address, Malam Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education, said the workshop was aimed at building the capacity of universities and research centres to generate knowledge relevant to Africa’s development challenges.
Represented by Hajia Hindatu Abdullahi, the Director of Tertiary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Adamu, urged NUC to ensure that Nigerian universities benefitted from the outcome of the workshop.
“The benchmarking initiative is most needed in our institutions of higher learning, to ensure that minimum standards are set and observed in order to improve the quality of our institutions.
“The Federal Government is working towards the enhancement of skills and entrepreneurial studies on all institutions of learning in Nigeria to overcome challenges of joblessness after graduation.
“In the area of technology, you can agree with me that we are in an era where our lives are, to a great extent, defined by the innovations in the world of technology,’’ he said.
On his part, NUC’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Julius Okojie, said that investment in science and technology was key to both human and infrastructural development of any country or region.
He said that the benchmarking initiative would enhance the development of highly skilled work force in the continent of Africa and bridge the skills gaps and mismatch where they existed.
“It is in this line of thought that the commission, in collaboration with Industrial Training Fund(ITF) and United Nations Industrial Development( UNIDO), in 2015, embarked on a pilot tracer study of graduates in Nigerian universities to ascertain their employability.
“In the next few days, you will be deliberating on the outcome of the teat benchmarking exercise and other issues including labour market surveys and linkages to industry,’’ he said.
He expressed delight in partnership among NUC, World Bank and AAU in orgainising the workshop. (NAN)