The Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) paid a courtesy call on the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor AbubakarAdamuRasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, in his office recently.
Welcoming the team, the Executive Secretary expressed delight over the visit, describing the composition of the delegation as highly intimidating, with the likes of Pro-Chancellor, University of Abuja, erstwhile Senator and one of the pioneering Vice-Chancellors of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Professor Iya Abubakar in its fold. He said the visit was timely when NUC was seriously probing itself regarding the undeniable place of Computing in Nigeria’s education landscape. He recalled that when he took over about 16 months ago, there was no proper articulation of Computer Science and Computer Studies and its component disciplines in the scheme of things within the framework of the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) documents.
According to Professor Rasheed, he quickly had to mobilize the NUC Management to underscore the key revolutions on-going in the world where Computers and Computing Technology has shattered the mode of doing things especially in education. Giving instances, he explained that i-phones and smartphones were virtually controlling all aspects of human activity where everyone now depended on these technologies to transact business in today’s world. Cognisant of this reality, the Executive Secretary informed the delegation that the Commission has had to develop a separate BMAS for Computer Science by adding it as the 14th Discipline in the list of academic programmes in the Nigerian University System (NUS).
Some specialised courses such as Cyber Security, Computer Information System and Cyber Space craft as well as those programmes with Combined Honours degrees like Computer/ Economics and Computer/ Statistics were broken down and being currently worked on by selected team of experts to make them Business systems within the Computer programmes, he stated.
In his remarks, the President and Chairman of the Council, Professor C.O Uwadia, said that decree 49 of 1993 established CPN with the mandate to basically monitor and control the practice of Computing in Nigeria. This, he said, empowered the Council to oversee the various levels of computing education beginning from the formative stage of education to postgraduate Computer Education. The Council, he pointed out, accredits programmes on industrial knowledge experience and skills to regulate practice and development of graduates from Nigerian Universities. He noted that the Council had partnered with a number of institutions and professional bodies to develop the quality of Computer Professional practice in the country.
Professor Uwadia highlighted that recently CPN in partnership with the Nigerian Computer Society developed an Information Technology Education Curriculum for Secondary Schools in Lagos State. The Federal Ministry of Education showed interest in the document and a copy was sent to them. Also, the Council had been partnering with the NUC in maintaining the professional practice and honing the skills of graduates in the Computer field and not at the institutional level.
He expressed delight with the reforms embarked upon by the NUC, observing that the Council was quite aware of the developments. He told the Executive Secretary that the delegation came to explore closer ties and harmonious working relations with the Commission such as enabling CPN to be accommodated in the NUC system-wide accreditation exercise. He said the CPN, made up of a mixture of Professionals and those in academic service, would enrich the accreditation procedure if involved in the exercise regularly, while also conforming to the Act establishing it.
Raising more points, the CPN President said that with education going beyond the borders of physical library and certifications, the Council was concerned with what was going on in the online programmes to ensure that qualitative education was achieved through the protection of the cyber space. He called on the NUC to involve members of the professional body in this direction, as they were in a better position to monitor the accreditation of online programmes in Nigerian universities. He used the forum to appeal to the Commission to allow Dr. Joshua Atah, whom he said had been doing a good job, to retain his place as NUC representative in the Council.
Responding, Professor Rasheed clarified that professional bodies ought to be principally concerned with moulding graduates as they join wider society to practice. This, he acknowledged, was to ensure their relevance in professional developments and other practices relevant in the field. He expressed delight that the President recognised the areas of authority of the NUC which was to prescribe academic contents in its BMAS, while it was not pretentious that the academic programmes would give the graduates certified professional qualifications. He disclosed that the Commission’s main focus had been to produce graduates that would meet global competitiveness, especially in the area of postgraduate pursuits in foreign universities. He, however, agreed to submit the draft BMAS in Computer Science for the Council to see and make its comments, without prejudice to the sole powers of NUC to determine academic contents of programmes run in the NUS.
On online degree programmes by universities, the Executive Secretary noted that NUC had threaded cautiously in allowing the running of online degrees in Nigeria, to avoid such certificates becoming questionable in the light of Cyber Security challenges. He welcomed the idea of the CPN offer to assist the Commission in its quest to develop a guideline for the moderation of online degree programmes, acknowledging that the Council, being a major stakeholder would be invited to participate in the development of guideline for the operation of online programme.
Others in the delegation were the Vice-Chairman, Mr. Kole Jagun; Registrar and CEO, Mr. All-well Achumba; Provost of the Nigerian Computer Society (NCS), Professor Nike Osofisan; Deputy Director Education, Mr. Idowu Olusite; Head, Abuja Office, Mr. R. Osoba; Head of Education Unit, Ms. Aisha Umar Nasidi; Membership Officer, Abubakar Lawal and Account Officer, Junaid Ibrahim