Dr Sayyadi Abba Ruma is the Executive Vice Chairman, Cherish Nigeria Development Foundation (CNDF), which recently established a Dual Mode University in Batsari, Katsina State, to address, among many other issues, unemployment after graduation, through entrepreneurship education. Excerpts.
What informed your decision of establishing such a university?
Actually, this idea came about following our desire to correct some anomalies, especially with regards to our region, being the most backward state economically and educationally. The recent figures released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says the North has the highest unemployment figures, under-capacity utilisation of human and natural resources, higher maternal and child mortality and so on. We sought a way of confronting these challenges and require bold and creative initiatives that place the individual at the centre of development.
What is so unique about this institute?
Our initiative is geared towards a drastic change from emphasis on classroom-centered learning activities to those on skills acquisition, technical and vocational education, closing gender gap and imbibing the spirit of innovation, creativity and self reliance among our people, especially the youths. As much as they are hugely popular and coveted, focus must shift away from overemphasis on paper qualification and certificates to skills and ability to generate great ideas and benefit from them. This cherish institute is conceived as a creative response to this need to promote learning, through entrepreneurship development. Having been incorporated as an enterprise training institute in 2012, by last year we got approval from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to undertake two post-secondary school programmes, national innovative diploma and national vacation certificate. In December, last year, the National Open University (NOUN) granted us the first community study centre in North-west Zone, making us a dual mode university.
Your dual mode status combines two systems of education, how does this work?
Our status was conceived against the backdrop that not all persons have either the time or the temperament to attend conventional education institute. So we offer courses and learning opportunities through distance learning platform. Presently, we are affiliated to International University, Bemanda, Cameroon, for health/nursing; University of the People, California, (USA) for business administration and computer science; International Islamic University of Malaysia were we do Islamic law, jurisprudence, Islamic economics, Islamic business plan; Oracle University for competitive ICT programme and British University, Egypt, for public/environmental health programmes. We cover a lot and have the best institutions affiliated with us. We have about fifteen professors and 35 PhD holders, and 40 master holders that do come also to lecture at our facility.
How can the local community benefit from such institute?
Batsari people should be happy to see an institute of this magnitude in their domain. We have, at the initial stage, picked over 200 children from the community where they were trained on computer operations and other skills. The knowledge they got enabled most of them to be engaged by INEC for this year’s elections.
Entrepreneurship is becoming important in our education system, how can that reduce unemployment?
Anybody that passes through our institute will be employed immediately, giving our links with relevant organisation that seek the services of such people. We have courses that equally provide immediate employment, like teaching and consultancy services. And through our network of connection, job opportunities are there for you. Our activities are done in collaboration with national and international private organisations.
Our plans is to train about three million artisans in cement technology in five years, three million women, girl-child, almajirai and other socially excluded groups in MSME/TVE programmes. With relevant education and skills learnt, in addition to certification, what else will make you not to be employable?