The Honourable Minister of Education (HME), Mallam Adamu Adamu, has said that all relevant stakeholders in the Nigerian University System (NUS)  must ensure that graduates of the system were fully equipped with the needed skills, knowledge and expertise to succeed in the 21st Century knowledge driven-economy.

He said this last Tuesday when the National Universities Commission (NUC),hosted an elaborate programme that witnessed the public presentation of Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS)Book Series 1; the launch of a book in honour of the Honourable Minister of Education; Tribute to late Professors Idris Abudulkadir and Nimi Briggs and capacity building (training) programme for implementing the CCMAS for University Staff, held at the Idris Abdulkadir Auditorium, Abuja.

He said, Nigerian universities must continue to strive to improve and update their educational programmes in line with the global best practices, stating that the CCMAS book series being launched as well as the capacity building programme for the implementation of the CCMAS for University staff were major steps towards achieving such goal.

Mallam Adamu, who congratulated the leadership of the NUC for taking the bold step to develop a fit-for-purpose and globally competitive curriculum for 17 disciplines in the Nigerian Universities System (NUS), with emphases on 21st Century employability skills and entrepreneurship, reminded the stakeholders that, the 70% of core courses in the curriculum had been provided by the Commission, while the universities had been given the opportunity to innovate, input their peculiarities and uniqueness into the remaining 30% as provided.

The Minister stressed that the implementation of the CCMAS required dedication, hard work and willingness to embrace change by everybody and noted that there was urgent need to invest in training academics with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively implement the CCMAS.

He called on participants at the event to take advantage of the training programme to equip themselves with the needed skills and by so doing transfer the knowledge acquired to their various universities.

He assured the participants that the NUC had put up a very robust programme that promises to be comprehensive, interactive and geared to meet their needs as educators. He further highlighted that the programme would further equip university staff with details of the new curriculum as well as help them to embrace modern teaching methods. He, therefore, expressed the hope that the participants were ready to glean the new ways and  prioritise their involvement in the training.

He explained that one other important reason why the stakeholders gathered was for the presentation of the book series meant to ensure the efficient delivery of the CCMAS which remained a reference document that contained innovative means of delivery of the 17 new disciplines, aimed at deepening their understanding in order to improve teaching, learning and produce graduate that could compete with their counterparts globally.

He also paid glowing tributes to the life and times of late Professor Idris Abdulkadir, a former Executive Secretary of NUC and Professor Nimi Briggs, a member of the NUC Strategic Advisory Committee (NUCSTRADVCOM) who, both,  passed on weeks before the launch of the new curriculum  and  called for a minute silence in their remembrance.  While explaining that they left at a time when their contributions to the education section was yielding much fruit,he prayed for the repose of their souls and for God to grant them eternal rest.

In his address, the Executive Secretary, NUC, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, congratulated the Minister of Education for his immense contributions to the development of the NUS. He stated that with the intervention of the Honourable Minister, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the establishment of more federal universities of Agriculture and Medical Sciences, one in each geo-political zones of the country, hinting that 37 private universities had also received FEC approval raising the number of private universities in the country from 111 to 148.

Professor Rasheed who described Mallam Adamu Adamu as one of the longest serving Ministers in the country since the return to democratic rule in 1999, stated that since assumption of duty in 2015, the Honourable Minister had midwifed the establishment of about 80 percent of the universities in Nigeria.

While harping on the training programme for the university staff on CCMAS, the NUC Scribe charged the participants  to ensure active participation as they were key drivers of the CCMAS especially in  ensuring its full implementation.

He assured that the NUC would continue to do its best to ensure robust reforms as it concerned the CCMAS, stating that it was to be implemented fully from the 2023/2024 academic session beginning with the year one students.

Delivering the Keynote Address, the Secretary-General, Association of African Universities (AAU), Professor Olusola Oyewole described the new CCMAS as a revolution which had come to rebrand the university system in Africa. He stressed that the curriculum being used during Colonial era were designed to meet the man-power needs for recruitment by the Colonial Masters into public service.

He stated that this was no longer the focus of the 21st century students as the demands of the present-day labour market take into consideration the global development of a new hi-tech and revolutionary market that had given rise to new methods of doing business, hence the need for a new curriculum to train 21st century student who can compete globally.

“The revolution that is evolving, the present day knowledge is flexible and that means that students should be able to learn, re-learn and unlearn, he said”. He therefore called for the decolonization of the African curricula, a task he said the NUC has taken head on over the years from Minimum Requirements to Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards {BMAS) and now to a revolutionized Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS).

Professor Oyewole stated that the new CCMAS would among other things, change the system from being teacher-centred to being learner-centred as teachers would teach pre-identified learning outcomes, while flexible learning would be promoted; life-long learning would be encouraged; and learners would be able to acquire and demonstrate some essential employability skills.

For adequate implementation of the CCMAS, the Secretary-General called for an improved welfare for academics, adding that with better welfare system in place, academics that stand at the core of delivering the new CCMAS would be able to effectively deliver the new curriculum as required of them.

The high-point of the event was the public unveiling of the CCMAS Book Series1and Book in honour of the Honourable Minister of Education, both coordinated by a former Executive Secretary of NUC and Chairman of STRADVCOM, Emeritus Professor Peter Okebukola, OFR.

In a vote of thanks, the NUC Deputy Executive Secretary, (Academics), who doubles as the Coordinating Director, Academic Planning (DAP), Dr. Biodun Saliu extended his special thanks to the HME, ES NUC and the Facilitator-General of the CCMAS, Professor Okebukola for their untiring efforts which led to the development of the new curriculum. He also appreciated the committee of experts from the various disciplines of the NUS for the hard work, perseverance and dedication to the task and the staff of NUC, who participated in the review exercise, stating that posterity would be kind to all for their commitment to the task.

Goodwill messages were also delivered by some Heads of Paratastals and Agencies in the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), including Executive Secretary TETFUnd, Architect Sonny Echono; Executive Secretary, NCCE, Professor Paulinus; Registrar/CEO, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Professor Segun Ajiboye; among others.

At the elaborate event were former Minister of Education and member (NUC STRADVCOM), Professor Ruqayattu Ahmed Rufa’i; immediate past  Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Julius A. Okojie; former  Cchairman, Iindependent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and member of (NUC STRADVCOM), Professor Attahiru Jega; NUC’s Deputy Executive Secretary of Administration,  Mr. Chris J. Maiyaki;  Chairperson, Association of Directors of Academic Planning of Nigerian Universities, Serving and Former Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Directors of Academic Planning, Chairmen of the Curriculum review committees, among others.