Prof. Julius Okojie, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), on Thursday advised Nigerians not to cheapen the country’s educational system by saying that “its degrees are worthless”.
Okojie said at the presentation of a report on Labour Market Observation on Nigerian Graduates in Abuja that Nigerian graduates were not underprivileged and unintelligent but good with great skills.
He said people tend to describe Nigerian degrees as worthless because the demand for them was less than the supply of graduates into the labour market every year.
Okojie said the notion came about because of the unemployment rate in the country, adding that it should not be the yardstick for measuring the quality of the graduates.
“The problem is that there is no balance on the sides of demand and supply. It’s just that the supply is so much and the demand for the graduates is less.’’
He said the Nigerian education system was good “as it produces intelligent graduates’’.
“The onus is in understanding the peculiarity of the economy and moving in that direction to produce the right graduates.’’
Okojie explained that NUC initiated the survey to understand the needs of the labour market and prepare the students to meet those requirements through proper training.
“I keep hearing that our certificates are not acceptable abroad. Who has given that impression in this country?
“I have been in the university system since 1978 and I can tell you that our certificates are honoured abroad.
“The Federal Government gives scholarship to the best 52 youth corps members to study abroad every year.
“Some of them have third class honours; some are even HND holders and they do so well that they are asked to stay for their PhDs.
“So, where did we get the idea that our degrees are worthless? All the graduates need is the opportunity to practice. So, we must not kill our education system by saying our degrees are worthless,’’ he stressed.
Okojie said the obligation was to learn what was in vogue.
“For example, ICT has come to Nigeria and there is need to build capacity in that aspect.
“We must look at the labour market and its requirement and we must also bend our training needs in that direction.
“With that, I am convinced that we are in the right direction and confident that we will get it right.’’
Earlier, Prof. Ignatius Uvah, the Consultant for the survey, said it was initiated to create awareness on the labour market among stakeholders.
Uvah said it would guide the training of graduates for effective performance.
“It will also help in putting in place national and institutional structure for polices on the labour market information system.
“This will help the suppliers and consumers of labour to understand the peculiarities of the market and align themselves to it.’’ (NAN)