HIGHER EDUCATION AND MANPOWER DEVELOPMENT: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF UYO
Background of the Study
Education has been defined in diverse ways to suit the situation o r process under review. Education is the complete development of human such that he/she becomes functionally useful to himself/herself, society and humanity at large. It is the aggregate of the process through which a person develops abilities, attitudes and forms of behavior that are of positive value in the society in which he/she lives. Education in its general sense is fundamental and basic to human and overall societal development. It is in turn, makes its recipient self-reliant and self-sustaining. The extent of development of societies has been associated to the extent of the literacy of its citizenry.
The importance of education to national development project cannot be over-emphasized. Since the attainment of national independence in October, 1960, the successive Nigerian governments have acknowledged this fact and have instituted various measures of policy commitment and action; more also, in electioneering campaigns and national budgets.
Politicians and policy makers alike have always recognized and politicized the centrality of good education, especially higher education in national development. Hence, they have frequently stress on the establishment of more universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and the expansion of existing higher education institutions by advocating for the creation of multi-campus arrangements, provision of adequate infrastructural materials, qualified teachers and so forth (Araromi and Adeyoju, 1996:83). In fact, it is sufficiently clear that a nation which fails to provide good education for her citizens would sooner or later face the logical antithesis of sustainable development: Mass illiteracy, superstition, poverty, diseases, de-industrialization and low productivity. This mainly explains why governments are highly interested in the educational system, particularly in developing countries.
To this end, the Federal Government declared in the preamble to the National Policy on Education revised in 2004 (the first clear-cut education policy in Nigeria) that:
“Education in Nigeria is no more a private enterprise, but a huge government venture that has witnessed a progressive evolution of government’s complete and dynamic intervention and active participation.
The Federal government of Nigeria has adopted education as an instrument par excellence for effecting national development. It is only natural that government should clarify the philosophy and objectives that underlie its current massive investment in education and spell out in clear or unequivocal terms the policies that guide government’s educational effort”.
Manpower development is the continuous systematic analysis of the skilled manpower that are required in the economy. This involves the quantification of the required manpower in terms of quality, type and amount of education.
Higher education is a veritable tool for manpower development, but manpower development can be enhanced if adequate attention is given to the higher educational system in Nigeria and the University of Uyo in particular. Higher education is still grossly inadequately funded, with several negative consequences for academic freedom and university autonomy. Infrastructural facilities, equipments for teaching, research and learning are either lacking or very inadequate.
From the above preamble, it is clear that government recognizes that for it to be quite meaningful, education has to be pertinently related to the national development agenda.
Statement of the Problem
This study derives from the concern on how adequate or otherwise, contemporary higher education in Nigeria provides for manpower needs (technical and managerial) of manufacturing industries. In spite of the increasing proliferation of universities and polytechnics in Nigeria during the past decade, it is evident that the profile of links between higher education and industries especially in the areas of development and utilization of skilled labour has not been meaningfully investigated. In fact, the original objective of universities serving as centres for generating innovative knowledge and personal requisite for creating new productive systems and on the other hand producing graduate manpower to help in maintaining these systems, especially in industries tends to be rapidly compromised (Longe, 1991)
A probably more disturbing scenario is that as technological changes occur in the Nigerian manufacturing sector through import substitution industrialization, the latter does not seem to stimulate a commensurate review in the curricular of the students who are supposedly trained to meet the manpower needs of our industries. All these have led us to the following thematic puzzle namely “how far and how well does higher education in Nigeria satisfy the manpower needs of the industrial sector with particular reference to manufacturing”?
The following research questions were raised and examined in the course of the study:
- How do people perceive the role of University of Uyo in manpower development?
- How can manpower development be enhanced in higher institutions?
- Does a student’s study area determine his place of employment?
- What is the relevance of higher education in national development?
- Does University of Uyo provide adequate manpower requirement needed for national development?
Purpose of Study
The main objective of this study was to investigate the adequacy of higher education on manpower development needs of manufacturing industries. Other specific purpose of the research includes:
- To ascertain how manpower development can be enhanced in higher institution like University of Uyo.
- To find out if students area of study determine their place of employment.
- To determine the relevance of higher education (University of Uyo) in national development.
- To find out if University of Uyo provides adequate manpower development.
The study has the following assumptions:
- Most students prefer universities to polytechnics when it comes to choosing higher institutions.
- Higher education is the key to manpower development n Nigeria.
- The level of manpower development depends on the quality and quantity of knowledge gained from higher institution.
Significance of the study
This study is considered first and foremost a contribution to the evolution and growth of knowledge on the linkage between higher education and work in Nigeria. It is a universal norm that higher education is both an instrument as well as a means for the training of specialized manpower appropriate for different vocational purposes. One area where the links between higher education and manpower development have perhaps produced the most far-reaching benefits for mankind is manufacturing.
This is particularly evident in view of the profound skills and creativity provided by the linkage of education and industrial manufacturing and which frequently find expression in scientific, technological and socio-economic development.
However, over the years and presently too, policy makers, intellectuals and other professionals have tended to conceptualize and make decisions regarding higher education and industrial manufacturing in Nigeria as if they are independent and self-creating processes (Ukaegbou and Agunwanba, 1991). Hence little or no research and practical attention is paid to exploring and deepening the organic complementary between education and industry which is the engine of sustainable development. For instance in a cross-sectional study conducted in selected industries, universities and research institutions in 1985, Ukaegbou found that Nigerian scientists and engineers employed in various sectors of the economy were conspicuously under-utilized. The reason is partly that their educational training in schools does not harmonize with the imperatives of technological acquisition in industries. Hence often time, technicians and expatriates are preferred over graduates of higher education especially under circumstances of imported technology.
Finally, this study is considered timely in view of the growing anxiety over the deteriorating standard of higher education in Nigeria which in turn provokes an array of public and private concerns. Since the Gray Longe Commission on Higher Education in Nigeria in the 1990s submitted its report to the Federal Government in 1991, it has become increasingly evident that improved funding among other things strongly recommended by the commission may not after all be the principal remedy to many a short fall in Nigerian tertiary education. Hence, in his broadcast to mark the country’s 36th independence anniversary, the Nigerian Military leader, General Sanni Abacha inaugurated a new commission to investigate the problems of higher education in Nigeria and make appropriate recommendations to the Federal government. This project therefore promises to make significant input into the Nigerian public policy machinery on critical constraints of higher education in the country and the way forward.
Scope / Delimitation of the Study
The purpose of this work focuses on investigating the role of higher education in manpower development needs. For convenience, the study was limited to the University of Uyo.
Limitations of the Study
One major limitations of this work is inadequate funds to get materials for research study. Other limitations include time and poor co-ordination of materials.
Definition of Terms
Operationally, it is a more or less specialized type of education which individual students obtain at the post-secondary level of schooling such as universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and other monotechnics.
Higher Education: Higher education is used as a means for training people to develop appropriate manpower needed to operate in any sector of employment they find themselves.
Manpower Development: Manpower development now commonly referred to as human capital resource development, is an ongoing process that analyses, forecasts and projects an organization’s future productivity.
Manpower development is a process that seeks to optimize an organization’s usage of its human resources. It requires an integrated approach that addresses multi-dimensional skills to creative thinking and leadership. Organizations with high productivity levels have made manpower development an integral part of their business culture. Manpower development is the appropriate skill needed to function effectively in an organization. So, many people are educated but yet they lack the skill to fit into an organization when it comes to performing duties, appropriate development of working skills can enhance such a person’s capabilities.