Developing human capacity via practicals at University of Ibadan
There have been serious concerns on the growing number of unemployable graduates churned out by Nigerian universities and other higher institutions of learning. It is imperative, therefore, to redesign the educational programmes with graduate skill sets that could ensure self-employment and sustenance after school. This situation will provide economic, social and institutional value to the society as highly skilled individuals become entrepreneurs and employees. Consequently, the effect will trickle down with better performance and greater economic growth in the country.
The foregoing has been the agric entrepreneurial platform of the Faculty of Agriculture in the University of Ibadan to build human capacity through the Practical Year Training Programme (PYTP).For most students of Agriculture, the PYTP which spans one academic session and undergone by 400 level students has effectively equipped them with professional prowess. Although, knowledge is a treasure, the discretion to apply it is key, without which it is useless. The PYTP has afforded students an opportunity to familiarise themselves with experience in handling equipment and farm machinery and agricultural production practices, and to a great extent, transform their classroom knowledge into innovations and economic prosperity.
At the university, the objective has been elimination of certified but unproductive graduates from the nation’s white-knuckle economy via modern and scientific work methods and techniques in handling equipment and machinery. This has afforded students the opportunity to exert their knowledge in real work situation, thus making the transition from school to the world facile by enlisting employers’ involvement in the entire educational process.
The programme is being executed to include outside postings. The programme chairman, Dr. K.A. Thomas, relayed that in addition to on-campus practical exposure, the PYTP students are sent to neighbouring Research Institutes, notably, the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, and the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Ibadan, for acquisition of practical knowledge in horticulture and cash tree crops.
The on-campus activities at the Teaching and Research Farm ensure the students also receive instruction on various subject areas, such as the production of cereal crop (maize), leguminous crops (cowpea, soybean and groundnut), tuber/root crops (cassava, yam and cocoyam), fruity and leafy vegetable crops, both local and exotic.
It has been a rewarding experience for the students. A student described the eradication of the army worm pestilence on their farms as the most tasking but also fulfilling experience thus far, saying, “Being able to solve this problem made us feel like superheroes.” She was grateful to the Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Ademola Ladele, for his administrative prowess in ensuring the smooth running of the programme.
Making farming more attractive to the younger generation by way of integrating traditional farming skills with technology will go a long way in boosting the human capital necessary to provide the ever-increasing population with food supply in the future. The academic knowledge can become productive when platforms for practical tools are readily available.
Bridging the generational gap is not basically about sustained technological drive but also organisational integration. This implies that youths are always engaged through constant exposure to research and training. Without the needed experience, skills required for successfully launching out the youths to the expansive agricultural sector might be lost. In all, human capacity building is important and should be encouraged to complement classroom education, as the value of knowledge becomes lost when there is no avenue to practically apply it.
• Thomas is of the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, University of Ibadan
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