THE Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed, has said that the commission has carried out a comprehensive review of curriculum of universities and the unbundling of Mass Communication, Agriculture and other courses.
He revealed that NUC had developed the blueprint for revitalising university education in Nigeria, noting however, that the emergence of Coronavirus (COVID-19), forced the commission to rethink its approach to the delivery of instruction by adopting sustainable integration of digital education.
He noted that one aspect of the blueprint was to carry out a comprehensive review of the curriculum, and after four years with over 1,200 academics involved, the NUC would have successfully re-engineered the curriculum of universities.
According to him, Mass Communication has been unbundled into eight new degree programmes that will come on board, adding that agriculture has also been unbundled into several degree programmes.
He said for the first time in 20 years, Nigeria had received foreign students from several countries, and students from over 17 countries subscribed to one university alone, courtesy of the ACE programme.
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An expert, Dr Olivier Kuttel, the Head of International Affairs of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL, Switzerland, charged African universities to embrace and make achieve digital education acceptable to their societies in order to the desired impact.
Kuttel, while delivering his keynote address, said the biggest impact on digital transformation was Covid-19, adding that online teaching was key for his polytechnic to continue its academic programmes during the pandemic.
He, therefore, called on universities to go digital, taking into cognisance the society they are serving, adding that “if the society does not accept digitisation of teaching, it is not going to work.”
According to him, digital technology has a huge impact on education, research, innovation and the society, stating that with digital technology, they teach, do research, share result and the impact is felt by their society.
Also speaking, a representative of Africa Digital Education Network (ADEN), Professor Rasheed Sanni, said digital sustainability could not have come at a better time than now that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted education across the world.
Sanni stressed that the current university system requires digital education and online teaching to deliver quality education to students at all times.
The secretary-general, Association of African Universities, AAU, Professor Olusola Oyewole, urged African universities to take steps towards achieving digital sustainability to close the educational gaps in the system.
Oyewole noted that as universities pursue sustainability of digital technology, an opportunity was created for the growth of a digital economy where digital skills could be learned to put food on the table for citizens.
He stressed that “digital education is one of the areas that is particularly key to opportunity for all.”
Speaking on the need to ensure continuous learning in universities despite the disruption caused by Covid-19, the executive vice chairman of Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC, Professor Umar Dambata, said education is the most powerful weapon to change a society and digital technology offers the opportunity for that change to take place.
Represented by the Head of Research at NCC, Mr Kelechi Nwankwo, Dambata said as a commission, NCC’s vision from 2021 – 2025 captures the need to encourage the procurement of new technologies, and carry out cutting-edge research for sustainable economic growth and development, adding that these strategic goals is why NCC is collaborating with the academia.