Some weeks ago, I attended the 78th Interdisciplinary Research Discourse of the Graduate College of Nigeria’s premier university: The University of Ibadan. The discourse was titled an approach to Research and Innovation in National Development: Entrepreneurship Culture in Nigerian Universities. This was delivered by Professor Adesoji A. Adesina, a former professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of South Wales Australia, winner of over US $15 million in competitive grants, a recipient of the Nigerian Order of Merit Award and currently the Founder/CEO of Atodatech LLC, at the end of the two hours discourse, he left no stone unturned.
At the sight of the notification of his presentation, the title attracted me that I quickly had to cancel a schedule so I could attend the discourse. Having walked the corridors of advocating for deliberate drive of entrepreneurship culture in various institutions of learning, the concept of driving entrepreneurship culture in the universities cannot be centered on “buying and selling books”, as this is a perception often held by a good number of persons in the universities. I will take side with the meaning of Entrepreneurship as contained in the EU 2011 Project Report of Entrepreneurship Education: Enabling Teachers as Critical Success Factors, Entrepreneurship for a teacher lies in the ability of the individual to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation, showing initiative and risk-taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives.
On the shelves of libraries of our universities are innovative and problem solving researches that are lying dormant. With a low gown-town impact, this could be tied to a number of valid reasons, ranging from funding, intellectual property theft, bureaucracy of patent acquisition and you just name it. The issue of dormant innovative researches is not from a point of speculation or assumption. In July – December 2018, I was offered a Campus Ambassador role by Co-creation Hub to comb the Nigerian Universities for innovative researches. My role was a component of the African Universities Innovation Accelerator (AUIA) Project. As I interacted with academics and PhD candidates across different faculties, I was literally blown away by researches that have been conducted (albeit with low social impact) or currently ongoing in the domain of Engineering, Education, Science, Arts, Humanities and Business. Listening to Professor Adesoji’s discourse increased my interest to work on projects and researches that will drive Entrepreneurship Education (EE) in Nigerian Universities down to our secondary and elementary schools.
Here are ten excerpts from Professor Adesoji’s lecture:
- Sustainable development is controlled by Technology, Innovation, Management and Entrepreneurship.
- National Science and Technology Policy to drive entrepreneurship as a basis for sustainable development.
- Our research must be driven by national priorities, not just an exploratory replication, appraisal studies and re-inventing the wheel.
- Our Universities must change her operating paradigm from Anglo-saxion, Hublodotian, and Napoleonic to an entrepreneurial model.
- Formation of research clusters for resource and infrastructure optimization.
- Sync research clusters for industry-university linkages.
- A seed fund for younger/emerging researchers and reinvigorate established researchers.
- At the turn of the knowledge economy, everyone in the domain engineering, science, arts, humanities and business must develop competency in Entrepreneurship Education (EE).
- A rapid growth in the economy must be matched with a rise in in Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI).
- Entrepreneurial Universities are needed as population grows, Nigeria is below optimum level in the current climate.
His concluding thoughts in one sentence:
“Entrepreneurship is the goal of research, innovation and societal transformation”.
At a cocktail dinner after the lecture, I walked up to Professor Adesoji to get his perspectives on driving this culture (competencies) to students at the undergraduate, secondary and elementary level; as his discourse focused on faculty members and emerging researchers ( candidates at Master, PhD and Post-docs levels). After my conversation, I thought along the following lines as articulated below.
With a rapidly rising unemployment index in Nigeria (36.50% Q3 2018), vis a vis poor employability skill set of graduates of tertiary institutions. It is critical for Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Education (FMOE) to implement a pragmatic national policy on Entrepreneurship Education (EE) that is visibly working within the walls of the schools and not just a policy document on the shelf or web links of its web page. The FMOE must as a matter of urgency institutionalize a workable teacher education training to drive entrepreneurship as visible in other climes. This should also be complemented by a more robust private sector, non-profit sector, bilateral and multi-lateral agencies entrepreneurship projects to stimulate interest in entrepreneurial competencies among students. The efforts of Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) in stimulating creativity, innovation, design thinking, problem solving and entrepreneurship development among school children is greatly acknowledged.