The National Universities Commission (NUC) recently introduced the teaching and learning of entrepreneurial studies as a compulsory course in all Nigerian universities. The concept behind it is to ensure that students acquire some skills in addition to university education so that more graduates will become job creators, rather than job seekers. The idea is to reduce the level of unemployment in the country by making students acquire the basic skills beside the knowledge they acquire through their course of study. It is worthy of mention that Igbinedion University Okada (IUO), Edo State had, from inception been running courses in entrepreneurship ahead of the NUC directive.
In 2014, a philanthropist, Dr. David Osunde, donated an ultra-modern entrepreneurship centre to the school. Of course, the entrepreneurship centre is named after him. The Entrepreneurship and Skill Acquisition Centre, has a total of 11 programmes viz: desk top computer operation and business centre, tailoring and fashion design, hair care, fashion, catering and event coverage, music, perfumery, cosmetics and toiletries, block molding, animal husbandry, bakery and auto-mobile driving.
In the School of Desk Top Computer Operation and Business Centre, students are trained in computer appreciation, book publishing, binding, photocopying and laminating of documents. At the School of Tailoring/Fashion Design, it was fascinating to see the way a 300 level Petroleum Engineering student, Abba Tijjani, was designing a trouser with ease.
Interacting with the young man, one would be shocked to see that only in nine months, he has been able to display so much skills in dress-making. Tijjani, a Kano State-sponsored student is an example of a good tailor. In a short interview with him, he declared: “My joy knows no bound for the opportunity created by the university for me to acquire the skills of my dream- that is, tailoring and fashion design”.
Tijjani went on, “Now I can make wears for myself and others. Regularly I make wears for both male and female students and make some money from it. My greatest satisfaction is in seeing people appreciate my handiwork.”
The fashion school also trains students in neckless making, beadmaking, hair-facilitators and handbag making. The school at the moment has a total of 31 students in these areas of human endeavours. Block molding has 277 students and it plans to begin a building unit, which will train students in brick laying and plastering. The School of Animal Husbandry has 193 students.
The director of the centre, Dr. David Umobuarie, commended the initiatives of the school’s management in establishing the centre.
“This will go a long way in reducing the level of unemployment in the country,” he stated.
He explained that, “Apart from the training in specific skills, the students are also trained in developing business plans… They are allowed to form themselves into groups-not less than five and not more than 10 persons to develop a business plan of their choice.”
He continued: “we have gathered many of these business plans and after assessment, the university will fund the best 10”. It is worthy to note that students are also at liberty to choose the kind of skills they want to acquire from the centre.
This, Umobuarie said, “makes learning easy because people can hardly learn any trade when the interest is not there”.
At the recently organised second product exhibition, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Eghosa Osaghae, represented by his deputy, Prof. Charity Emaviwe, while declaring open the event charged the students not to abandon the skills acquired from the training, but to always pursue the commercial values of the skills.