The academic certificate is a document
certifying that the bearer has gone through a programme of tutelage or
training in a specified institution or establishment, formally or
informally, and acquired specific skills or knowledge and able to
perform specific tasks.
It is however the responsibility of the
employer to ascertain whether the skills possessed by the bearer of the
certificate meet the demands of the job.
In some circumstances, the skills that
have been acquired may just be adequate for the job position as is the
case with teachers whose training incorporates supervised teaching
practices ensuring that the graduates are ready to begin working without
the need for additional tutoring or apprenticeship. This is also the
case with some other professional courses such as engineering and
medicine.
In many other cases however, the
training received may be of a more general nature and may have no direct
bearing on the job being sought. It may therefore be necessary that the
applicant undergoes additional training before acquiring sufficient
competence to manage the job desired. The above is the best case
scenario where the candidates possess the skills or knowledge in
consonance with their certificates.
In many instances, the certificate
bearer does not possess the skills or knowledge suggested by the
certificate, notwithstanding the authenticity of the document in
question. A well publicised case was the dismissal of three graduates of
the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) from the National Youth Service Corps scheme for performing abysmally below expectations, including inability to read and write.
Surprisingly, the NUC did not take any
action against the university so indicted. In another instance during an
organised assessment of the quality of teachers in Kwara State in 2008,
only one out of 2,628 graduates attained the pass mark in a primary
four level competency test.
I lay the blame for this poor
performance squarely at the doors of the universities that award the
bogus certificates to candidates who can scarcely read or write.
But how could this happens despite the
multiple efforts aimed at assuring the quality of the products of such
institutions? The NUC is primarily responsible for accreditation of
universities to ensure adequate facilities, competent staff and
conducive environment. The NUC also sets the minimum academic standard
in terms of curriculum and graduation requirements.
In practice however, most Nigerian universities operate under conditions that are far from conducive!
The university senate is responsible for
implementing these regulations to maintain academic standards within
the institution. But at every step, this regulatory process is
manipulated to attain myopic goals without consideration for the overall
quality of the products. Academic semesters are truncated, sometimes
reducing the learning period by half creating a huge gap in what ought
to have been taught and what is actually taught.
Contrary to NUC regulations, some
universities have introduced the waiver clause which allows candidates
to graduate without passing all prescribed courses. Under the waiver
regime, any two courses may be waived including core courses in areas of
specialisation. Some departments we learnt have further extrapolated
this illegal senate bylaw through some spurious interpretation to allow
candidates with five failed courses to graduate.
Other senate bylaws which are clearly at
variance with the NUC regulations are regularly implemented to
artificially boost the quality of university graduates.
These include using the best 120 out of a
total of about 145 credit units registered to compute degree results
while excluding failed attempts at the same time.
But all these pale into insignificance,
given the largely unregulated powers of the individual course lecturers
to influence the apparent performance of the students in the course
examinations. In these days of unprecedented decline in both character
and learning in the rank and file of the academic staff of Nigerian
universities, the disparity between the expected and actual knowledge is
not surprising. Students who can hardly read and write are awarded pass
grades by unscrupulous academic staff for a reward. Even senior
academic staffers often apply unrelenting pressure on the junior ones to
upgrade results for very poor candidates who ought not to be in the
system in the first place.
Ultimately, only a few individuals, who cannot afford what it takes, end up with a fail degree at the end of their studies.
Blatant violations of NUC regulations by
university administrations and failure to checkmate examination
malpractice are responsible for the low quality of Nigerian university
graduates.
The saddest aspect of all these is that
the NUC appears unable to check these administrative malpractices and
incompetence, leaving the employers of labour the unenviable task of
sifting through the large number of unqualified graduates to find the
few competent ones. The responsibility now rests squarely with the
employers to design appropriate means of selecting candidates who can
both read and write, and possess the minimum skills required to perform
on the job in their respective establishments.


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