STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT OF CHALLENGES FACING ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION IN UNIVERSITIES, NORTH CENTRAL STATES OF NIGERIA.
1.1 Background to the Study
The standard of education and its functionality has been a major concern for educational administrators in Nigeria, especially in this 21st century. This is probably due to global interest in education which has been identified as a means of development by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targeted towards eradication of poverty across the globe. In a bid to improve educational standards in Nigeria, different governments had come up with different policies in education, all aiming at solving inherent social and economic problems like arm-robbery, kidnapping, hostage taking, and graduate unemployment amongst others. Literature is replete with the fact that many Nigerian graduates leave the university without jobs and with little or no hope of securing any for many years. For instance, Dabalen, Oni and Adekola (2000) observed that, unemployment among graduates in Nigeria is high, and their prospects for job have been worsened over time and without hope. They recycle themselves as postgraduates. Others without such opportunity and no hope of self-sustenance engage in various antisocial and nefarious activities such as cultism, armed robbery and insurgency (Soludo, 2006). These challenges, according to Mando and Akaan (2013) are common among university graduates in the North central states like Kogi, Benue, Taraba, Plateau and Kwara. As a result, several graduates of Benue State University and University of Agriculture, both in Makurdi, have indulged in acts of cultism, armed-robbery and other vices not worthy of university graduates. This problem is indeed, a fallout of the inability of the government, especially in Benue State (since the inception of democracy in 1999), to provide job opportunities for the steaming graduates in the State.
As a result of the above problem, entrepreneurship education was introduced by the government in institutions of learning. The idea was to enable the students to appreciate the nature and dynamics of entrepreneurship, and subsequently, the acquisition of skills that would make it possible for them to develop functional skills which would enable them to depend less on government jobs, but rely on their own abilities to provide for themselves the means of livelihood. In this regard, Mando and Akaan (2013) contended that, entrepreneurship education (EEd) is central to national development as it prepares students for jobs and careers based on manual or practical activities, and help them develop skills in a particular trade that promotes considerable self-employment for socio-economic, cultural and even political advancement of a nation.
Entrepreneurship education has academic aspect (Curriculum and Pedagogy) and administrative aspect which determine the entrepreneurship institutional quality. Both aspects heavily contribute to the quality and success of the overall EEd (Lee and Wong, 2005). The ultimate goal of entrepreneurship education is to facilitate the creation of an entrepreneurial culture (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2010), which in turn would help potential students to identify and pursue opportunities. Aina (2007) also stressed that, EEd inculcates in trainees the ability to assess their strength; seek information and advice; make decisions; plan their time; carry an agreed responsibility; communicate and negotiate; deal with people in power and authority; solve problems; resolve conflict; evaluate performance; cope with stress and tension; and achieve self-confidence.
These abilities are what could be termed employable skills.
Students could therefore, be trained to succeed in entrepreneurship irrespective of their gender and educational background so as to enhance the development of core entrepreneurship traits and skills such as: diligence and capacity for hard work (task orientation); confidence; risk taking; decision making skills; interpersonal skills; leadership skills; and goal setting to improve individuals (Chiaha and Agu, 2008). The benefits of EEd to students are numerous and include such positive outcomes as increased sense of locus of control; greater awareness of personal talents and skills; improved school attendance; higher academic achievement; enhanced creativity skills in business situations; enhanced business opportunity recognition skills; ability to handle business situations ethically; problem-solving skills; understanding of steps essential in business start up; enhanced awareness of career and entrepreneurial option; use of strategies for idea generation and assessment of feasibility of ideas; understanding of basic free market economy; enhanced basic financial concepts; increased awareness of social responsibility and entrepreneur’s contribution to society; and greater likelihood of graduating to next education level (Broecke and Diallo, 2012).
Entrepreneurship education therefore, appears to be a formal structured instruction which conveys entrepreneurial knowledge and develops in students, focused awareness relating to opportunity, recognition and the creation of new ventures. Nwosu and Ohia (2009) defined entrepreneurship education as the process of providing individuals with the ability to recognize commercial opportunities and the knowledge, skills and attitudes to act on them. Acknowledging the view above, Brown (2003) contends that, entrepreneurship education and training programmes are aimed directly at stimulating entrepreneurship which may be defined as independent small business ownership or the development of opportunity-seeking managers within companies. Brown added that, these innovative, creative, independent and self-reliant qualities are lacking in most university graduates, who have become mere white collar job-seekers rather than job-makers. However, entrepreneurship seem to be the hub of both small and medium enterprises in America, Europe, Asian Tigers, among other advanced countries where private sector compliments the efforts of government in provision of employment opportunities, social security and welfare services to the citizenry.
The realization of the importance of entrepreneurship education and its implementation in universities is basically the concern of two main groups of staff in universities: the epistemologists and the deontologists. The epistemologists are the academic staff. They are more or less the technical crew in the university. They are equipped with adequate theoretical and practical knowledge for research, teaching and inculcating necessary entrepreneurial skills in students, thus preparing them for life, world of work and for contribution to national development (Chiaha and Agu, 2008). Chiaha and Agu explained further that, deontologists are inevitable assistants to the epistemologists in that they provide necessary administrative and technical supports to the university and the epistemologists in particular. The deontologists are normally responsible for all non-academic programmes including administration, planning, resource management, supervision, personnel matters, welfare of staff and students, financial administration, record-keeping, admissions, certifications, health, and university plant (environment physical facilities and equipment).
However, the senior epistemologists such as Deans of faculties, Provosts of schools, Directors of institutes, Departmental and Unit heads, Professors and Senior Lecturers, also partake in university administration. They are equally involved in the strategic management of EEd challenges. This is because many important functions involving implementation of government’s policies, monitoring, supervision and accreditation in universities are performed by these groups of staff (Mgbekem, 2004). But despite the structural organization of entrepreneurship education, Banabo and Ndiomu (2011) identified the challenges affecting entrepreneurship education in federal and state universities in the North Central states to include lack of sufficient and skilled manpower, inadequate funding, poor state of infrastructure, and lack of relevant reading materials. For Okebuola (2011), these challenges include cultism, lack of vibrant staff development programme, frequent labour disputes and the closure of universities, inadequate information technology facilities, poor leadership and poor policy implementation.
It is important to note that, three types of universities exist in Nigeria. They are: federal, state and private universities. The major difference between them lies in the funding. While the federal government funds federal universities, state universities are funded by their various state governments, whereas private universities are funded by private individuals that own them. Nevertheless, they are all under the supervision of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) that ensures quality and minimum standards in the universities while the various funding bodies make administrative policies. However, some universities like University of Jos; Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi; Kogi State University, Ayingba; Kwara State University, Ilorin; Nassarawa State University, Keffi; Taraba State University, Jalingo; and Benue State University, amongst others, in the North Central States of Nigeria appears to be bedevilled by the challenges of effective entrepreneurship education management.
Based on the above, this study proposes a strategic management of the challenges facing EEd in universities, in North Central States of Nigeria, through the application of SWOT, which denotes Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats. Johnson and Scholes in Hinde ( 2000, p. 14) stated that the aim of SWOT analysis is to identify the extent to which the current strategy of an organization and its more specified strength and weakness are relevant to, and capable of dealing with the change taking place in the management of university education. This means that, every university in the North Central Nigeria needs to increasingly become aware of their Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threats in managing the challenges of entrepreneurship education. To succeed in any field, weakness must be overcome through strength and threats must be transferred into opportunities.
On the other hand, strategic management of EEd challenges primarily entails responses to external issues such as in understanding the actual needs of students, and responding to them as appropriate. This is because strategic management provides overall direction to an organization. It entails specifying the organization’s objectives, developing policies and plans designed to achieve these objectives, and then allocating resources to implement the plans. It also includes a feedback mechanism which monitors execution and informs the next round of action.
Deriving from the above, the expectation is that, strategic management of EEd challenges would enable universities in the North Central States of Nigeria to function effectively towards achieving the objectives of entrepreneurship education. Besides, Ibukun (1997) pointed out that, the relevance of university education in Nigeria generally, is the provision of much needed manpower to accelerate the socio-economic development of the nation. Higher education as an instrument of social change and economic development was considered relevant by the National University Commission as a means through which EEd should be inculcated to Nigerian university graduates.
However, many educationists and administrators have questioned the achievement of the objectives of higher education by these universities. The objectives of university education as enshrined in the Nigeria’s National Policy on Education include contributing to national development through high level manpower training; providing accessible and affordable quality learning opportunities in formal and informal education in response to the needs and interests of all Nigerians; providing high quality career counseling and lifelong learning programmes that prepare students with the knowledge and skills for self-reliance and the world of work; reducing skill shortages through the production of skilled manpower relevant to the needs of the labour market; promoting and encouraging scholarship, entrepreneurship and community service; forging and cementing national unity; and promoting national and international understanding and interaction (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2014).
Despite the above laudable objectives, the concern of many educationists and administrators is due to the fact that most of the graduates remain unemployed for as long as ten years after graduation (OECD, 2012). Okoro (as cited in Mando and Akaan, 2013) noted that, about seventy-five (75) percent of secondary school-leavers in Nigeria do not go further in higher academic pursuit and that it is disturbing to have a situation where many youths who are physically able to render services towards national development, are highly unemployed. Thus, Nigeria has continued to struggle with major economic challenges including youth unemployment and this seems to be a threat to national development and according to Adebisi and Oni (2012), the unemployment of qualified and able-bodied youths has been of much concern to stakeholders in education, policy makers and the youth themselves. According to the Trading Economics (2015), unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 7.50 percent in the first quarter of 2015 from 6.40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. In addition, unemployment rate in Nigeria averaged 11.93 percent from 2006 until 2015, reaching an all-time high of 23.90 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and a record low of 5.30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006. Thus, there is increasing level of graduate unemployment in Nigeria, a country that is blessed with abundant natural resources such as ore, coal, chromium, cobalt, hydroelectric power, manganese and millions of hectares of uncultivated farmland and abundance of oil and gas. Conversely, most of the able-bodied graduate youth appears to have become beggars on the streets.
Furthermore, youth unemployment rate measures the number of young people vigorously looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force in Nigeria. Youth unemployment is worsened by trends of globalization which have led many companies to focus on their core competencies, which often creates a scenario where only temporary jobs are available for youths thereby making them underemployed or worse still, unemployed (Chiaha and Agu, 2008). While others tend to lay the blame on the type of graduates produced in Nigerian universities, who are also regarded as unemployable, some believe that they lack employable skills and experience (Obanya, 2010).
Consequently, the International Labour Organization (ILO) had predicted that by 2009, world youth unemployment rate would stand at 15%, while that of sub-Saharan Africa would be 60%. Backing this worsening figure, the report shows that there might be persistent unemployment, proliferation of temporary jobs, growing youth discouragement in advanced economies; and poor quality, informal, subsistence jobs in developing countries (ILO, 2013). The recent global financial crises, in addition to the prevalent economic woes of Nigeria, compelled the federal government to formally adopt Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as the engine of the country’s economic recovery and re-engineering. Unfortunately, the ubiquitous army of unemployed university graduates, regrettably, does not have the requisite skills and experiences for entrepreneurship in the country. This unsavoury and startling revelation forced the Yar’Adua administration to include entrepreneurship as the number three item of its seven-point agenda, to embrace entrepreneurship as a panacea for graduate and youth unemployment.
Given that youth unemployment rate is a threat to national development, entrepreneurship education was introduced and made a compulsory course in Nigerian universities. The idea was to enable graduates to acquire skills for the development of functional skills which would enable them to depend less on government jobs, but rely on their own abilities to provide for themselves the means of livelihood. This, apart from addressing the problem of graduate unemployment, was also aimed at strategically positioning the Nigerian economy for leadership in Africa. Thus, the researcher classifies unemployment rate in the country as a threat to national development in the one hand, and an opportunity for entrepreneurship education on the other hand.
Consequently, the NUC directed all universities in the country to commence entrepreneurship education as a compulsory course for all undergraduates irrespective of their disciplines, with effect from 2007/2008 academic session, and NUC had to coordinate and ensure compliance (Okojie, 2007). In an address at a conference on effective implementation of the Yar’Adua Administration Seven-Point Agenda, Prof Julius A. Okojie, the Executive Secretary of the NUC stated that, the universities were encouraged to commence entrepreneurial education (EEd) in order to equip their students with the skills that would make them useful to themselves and the country generally. It was expected that the EEd would encourage the universities to establish entrepreneurship studies, career advisory services and reduce crimes like examination malpractices, decadence in moral values, cultism and other social vices within the campus.
Based on the above, the fundamental questions to be asked are that: Have all the universities in the North Central zone complied with the directive on entrepreneurship education? Has the entrepreneurship education been properly integrated into the universities curriculum in the universities in the North Central States of Nigeria? Do the universities have adequate personnel in terms of quality and quantity for the entrepreneurial education? Do they have adequate facilities for entrepreneurial education? Are they producing entrepreneurs in the various disciplines? Have the university graduates stopped seeking for paid employment? Are majority of them selfemployed? These posers have suggested that, there may be challenges facing universities in the implementation of the EEd policy, especially in North Central states of Nigeria, which this study is set to investigate and find out how they can be strategically managed in the interest of achieving the objectives of entrepreneurship education.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
One observes with dismay, the deepening level of graduate unemployment in Nigeria, and this is in a country that is blessed with abundant natural resources such as ore, coal, chromium, cobalt, hydroelectric power, manganese and millions of hectares of uncultivated farmland and abundance of oil and gas. Regrettably, able-bodied men and women have become beggars on the streets of their fatherland. Realizing the above danger, entrepreneurship education was introduced and made a compulsory course in Nigerian universities. The idea was to enable graduates to acquire skills for the development of functional skills which would enable them to depend less on government jobs, but rely on their own abilities to provide for themselves the means of livelihood. This, apart from addressing the problem of graduate unemployment, would also strategically position the Nigerian economy for leadership in Africa.
Ever since entrepreneurship education was introduced in Nigerian universities, many graduates still remain unemployed for a long time after graduation. It appears that, the entrepreneurship education delivered to undergraduates does not meet the aims and the objectives of the course. Consequently, the challenge of graduate unemployment, with its attendant effects has continued to undermine chances of survival in Nigeria, thus making mockery of the content and philosophy of entrepreneurship education in the federal and state universities in the North Central States. Such universities are faced with the challenge of effective entrepreneurship education management. This research is therefore, an attempt towards understanding the above malaise in terms of the content of EEd; how the programme is managed; what impact it has on the socio-economic progress of university graduates in the North Central States of Nigeria, and how this problem could be addressed in the interest of achieving sound entrepreneurship education in North Central States universities, and Nigerian universities at large.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate the strategic management of challenges facing entrepreneurship education in universities in North Central State of Nigeria. Specifically the study sought to:
1. Find out the threats to Entrepreneurship Education in universities in North Central State of Nigeria.
2. Ascertain the weaknesses of Entrepreneurship Education in universities in North Central State of Nigeria
3. Determine the opportunities of Entrepreneurship Education in universities in North Central State of Nigeria.
4. Investigate the strengths of Entrepreneurship Education in universities in North Central State of Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:
1. What are the threats to entrepreneurship education in universities in North Central States of Nigeria?
2. What are the weaknesses of entrepreneurship education in universities in North Central States of Nigeria?
3. What are the opportunities of entrepreneurship education in universities in North Central States of Nigeria?
4. What are the strengths of entrepreneurship education in universities in North Central States of Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study:
Ho1: There is no significant difference between the mean responses of lecturers and coordinators on threats to entrepreneurship education in the Universities.
HO2: There is no significant difference between the mean responses of lecturers and coordinators on the weaknesses of EEd in the Universities.
HO3: There is no significant difference between the mean responses of lecturers and coordinators on the opportunities of entrepreneurship education in the Universities.
HO4 There is no significant difference between the mean responses of lecturers and coordinators on the strengths of entrepreneurship education in the Universities.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The significance of this study is based on both theoretical and practical significance. The theoretically, the study is anchored on Risk Taking Theory (RTT) by Richard Cantillon and John Stuart Mill. The theory perceives entrepreneurship as a mental education that stimulates individuals to take calculated risk for which future stream of benefits are guaranteed, and people taking big risk have to contend with a great responsibility. The main thrust of the theory is that, entrepreneurship education improves the ability, capability and potentials of individuals to undertake risks for which economic benefits are assured. This implies that managers of universities in North-central states have to become more aware of the importance of entrepreneurship education so as to ensure that it is strategically managed to achieve their goals and objectives.
Practically, the findings will be beneficial to many, including students, lecturers, employers, government and policy makers, as well as the general public. The study would enable the students to remain committed in their acquisition of practical skills that would enable them to be self-reliant, thus depending less on the government for white collar jobs, which are often scarcely available. This would no doubt enable them to add value to themselves by acquiring a means of livelihood. The lecturers teaching EEd in universities too would find this study useful, as they would avail themselves of the usefulness of the findings, to adjust to a better management and delivery of the course content in the interest of the students, which would help improve the students’ interest.
This would also bring about effective and efficient teaching and learning of entrepreneurship education through conferences.
This would also bring about effective and efficient teaching and learning of entrepreneurship education through conferences. Consequent upon the benefits of this study to students, employers would also benefit in terms of the availability of workers who are business- conscious, and who would help to increase the productivity of various companies through practical experience. The study is important to the government and policy-makers in terms of the fact that, it would create awareness on the effort being made by various Nigerian universities on the implementation and achievement of government policy on entrepreneurship education. It would also stir up policy-makers towards enacting laws that would strengthen entrepreneurship education in Nigeria.
The study would also be beneficial to members of the public because, as more graduates would be absorbed by different companies and organizations, there would be a reduction in crime rate, even improvement in the living conditions of the people.
Above all, this study will contribute to the existing literature on EEd and its impact on socio-economic progress of the people, even as it would serve as a source material for further research in this area.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study covered all the seven federal and six state universities in the North Central States of Nigeria. It also covered all the 13 coordinators and 136 lecturers of entrepreneurship programmes in the 13 universities. The content scope covers strategic management approach in solving the challenges facing entrepreneurship education in areas of strength, weakness, opportunities and threats.
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT OF CHALLENGES FACING ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION IN UNIVERSITIES, NORTH CENTRAL STATES OF NIGERIA.