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THE executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, has insisted that the challenge of graduate unemployment in Nigeria could be substantially tackled if universities in the country give priority to the development of Entrepreneurship Education programme.

According to him, the entrepreneurship education in the Nigerian University System (NUS) is designed to help prepare students to be fit-for- purpose in the Nigerian labour market.

He said this when the commission in partnership with the British Council  kick-started a two-day brainstorming session with the directors of entrepreneurship centres of Nigerian universities, aimed at achieving a more productive university education system.

He envisaged that the entrepreneurship education delivery has the capacity to deliver the required momentum, stressing that entrepreneurship must be embedded in the curriculum of all programmes taught in Nigerian universities.

The NUC boss added that entrepreneurship had the potential to unlock the hidden potential in students, helping them to identify skills that could prepare them for the labour market.

Rasheed stated that the meeting was a fallout of an earlier one with the centre’s directors organised by the Directorate of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (DSDE) of the NUC in November, 2021.

He recalled that after deliberations by participants at the event, a communiqué was issued on certain key resolutions.

He noted that the key to effective functioning of entrepreneurship is the domiciliation of the programme in the office of the vice chancellor.

“This is germane if the university system must attain an enviable height in entrepreneurship. On the strength of this, the meeting had resolved that the entrepreneurship directorate should be domiciled in the office of the vice chancellor to foster its effective supervision,” he said.

The NUC boss said the decision of stakeholders through the communiqué to put in place an operational guideline for effective running of the Entrepreneurship Development Centres (EDCs) in the various universities was novel and imperative in the nation’s quest to produce employable graduates.

He stated that the commission would continue to encourage ideas; innovations and suggestions that would not only make the universities to be truly entrepreneurial, but that could also jumpstart the national economy towards global competitiveness.

The executive secretary stated further that the commission had continued to discharge its statutory responsibilities of overseeing the university education system in Nigeria effectively, in a bid to ensure the orderly development of a well-coordinated and productive university system.

The commission had also embarked on a series of reforms aimed at revitalising university education. He tasked the participants to actively engage in robust discussions during the workshop technical sessions and to ensure that the knowledge gained is put to good use for the benefit of the respective institution, and the NUC.

In his presentation, the acting director, Directorate of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (DSDE), Mallam Ashafa Ladan, stated that the meeting would have been held earlier, but for exigency of duty coupled with the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which stalled many activities of the commission in particular and the university system in general.

He noted that there had been a growing need for entrepreneurship education delivery in the university system and being mindful of the prevailing enterprise challenges confronting the higher education space, the NUC felt the need to engage experts in order to bridge the skill gap and ensure linkages between industries and the universities.

Ashafa, informed the meeting that the Executive Secretary, upon his assumption of office in August, 2016, and in pursuant to the revitalization ideas of the Federal Government in promoting national development through the educational sector, did set machinery in motion to strengthen the regulatory roles of the Commission.

The essence, he said, was to tackle educational related challenges of economic underdevelopment such as the high rate of unemployed graduates, the poor rate of skilled graduates and the mentality of waiting for white collar jobs.

He further informed the participants that there was the need to re-orientate students, teachers as well as higher institutions to become innovative, skillful and entrepreneurial for self-reliance and sustainability.

He noted that since the discovery that depressed quality of graduates, poor skills development and entrepreneurial challenges were key issues challenging the Nigerian University System, it became imperative for the Commission to establish the Directorate of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (DSDE).

He explained that the cardinal objective of the Directorate was to partner with stakeholders to support skills development and entrepreneurship for Nigerian universities, by creating a network of interactions towards creativity and innovation for national development in the entrepreneurial space.

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