Govt partners United States institute on entrepreneurship programmes
As part of efforts to produce self-employing, functional and innovative graduates in Nigerian university system, the federal government has taken a leap by developing a roadmap that would ensure the institutionalisation of entrepreneurial culture amongst the students.
The project, tagged the National Entrepreneurial Resource and Knowledge Centre, (NERKC), has among others, the objective of promoting small business development and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
To ensure an effective take off of the project, federal government, through the National Universities Commission (NUC), has entered into a partnership deal with an Exeter-based Knowledge Institute for Small Business Development, (KISBD) in the State of New Hampshire, United States of America.
The Institute, which specialises in the creation of entrepreneurial business development systems that include entrepreneurial business educational curriculum design, teacher certification programme, textbooks, virtual business development incubators among other service is expected to offer its expertise to Nigeria to develop the manpower skills of Nigerian university and college graduates.
Leveraging KISBD expertise in creating entrepreneurial development and learning systems across the country, the NERKC would also facilitate economic development and reduce unemployment challenges being faced by university graduates and other target population segments across Nigeria.
For instance, a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS) estimated that there are about 70 million in Nigeria that represent the majority of workforce between the ages of 15 and 35 years old. Out of this population, the NERKC has targeted a primary audience of 10 million persons in the initial group.
According to the document “Conservative estimates indicate that if only five percent of this group launches their own business venture as a result of participating in the NERKC, this outcome would represent 500,000 new jobs created at an investment of $10 per job.
Preparatory to the launching of the project, a 10-member federal government delegation, comprising both the legislative and executive arms of government left the country for the United States last month to further explore partnership that would assist in executing the project, culminating in the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Institute.
The team, which was led by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, (PS-FME), Folasade Yemi-Esan has the two Chairmen of Tertiary and Basic Education Committees in the National Assembly, Sen. Binta Masi Garba and Hon. Aminu Suleiman.
The Deputy Executive Secretary, (University Education), Malam Ibrahim Iro Dan’ Iya led the pack of the NUC team comprising the Directors of Students’ Support Services, (DSS), Dr. Rukayyatu Gurin’ Finance and Accounts, Sam Onazi; Protocol and Special Duties in the ES Office, Chris Maiyaki as well as the Consultant on Entrepreneurship, Dr. Sola Aliu.
During the visit, the team reportedly met with the governor of New Hampshire, Margaret Wood Hassan and engaged with some legislators and entrepreneurship experts in the US, in addition to engaging her partners in identifying common grounds towards ensuring proper commencement of the project.
Hassan commended the commission for leveraging the best practices of the United States in economic development in order to help Nigeria drive her economic and social vitality through empowering financial literacy and entrepreneurial innovations among its citizens.
Dan Iya, in chat with The Guardian in Abuja at the weekend, said the partnership with the Institute was aimed at promoting small business development and entrepreneurship in Nigeria. He said it would be driven on two virtual platforms, namely the virtual resource centre,(VRC) and virtual learning centre, (VLC), noting that, if successfully deployed, the platform had capacity to train and facilitate the take of about 500,000 entrepreneurs, cutting across graduates, undergraduates, retired and working civil servants,
His words; “Essentially the partnership is in line with the federal government’s agenda of empowering youths and job creation and then the NUC being a proactive agency decided to form the partnership with the Knowledge Institute in New Hampshire with a view to deploying their technology for the training of unemployed gradates in the country.”
Providing the background for the project, Dan’Iya said: “Way back in 2012, when the strategy for the implementation of entrepreneurship education approved by government a focused implementation strategy was prepared and adopted by the management of the National Universities Commission, first, beginning with a sensitisation of the critical stakeholders, namely the university community and the public and beyond the sensitization we now went into capacity of the educators that would deliver entrepreneurship as a programme of study coupled with that, we also went side by side with the preparation of the curriculum that will be delivered.
“Now the curriculum was prepared for implementation at two levels, one at General Studies level, that means, very undergraduate university student must take some unit courses in entrepreneurship, regardless of what he/she is studying in the university, then we also have a B.Sc. Entrepreneurship as a specialized course of study.
“So basically, the Knowledge Institute, along with what we called ANEW, (Annual National Entrepreneurship Week.) are some of the outreach programmes that are designed to complement the delivery of Entrepreneurship as a programme of study. Whereas, the ANEW, which is aimed at exposing our students to organized business plan competitions the National Entrepreneurship Research and Knowledge Centre is supposed to provide the training ground that would expose Nigerian graduates to entrepreneurship culture and tradition.”