By Sani Idris
Prof. Muhammad Muftahu of the Kaduna State University (KASU), Department of Educational Foundation, Faculty of Education, has advocated the recognition of higher education as a field of study and professional practice in Nigeria.
Muftahu, a Professor of Higher Education, made the call on Tuesday at KASU’s 12th professorial inaugural lecture, with the title Institutionalising higher education as a field of study and professional practice in Nigeria’.
He said that in spite of being the largest in Africa, with millions of students, the Nigerian higher education system still suffered from acute scarcity or complete lack of ‘HEPROs’.
He explained,” HEPROs are a group of highly qualified personnel in Higher Education Institutions who support the academic and administrative systems and procedures in the institutions.”
He added that planning, management, budgeting, financial management, staff development, public relations, institutional research, report writing, counselling, and collaborations with individuals and organisations outside of universities were among the duties of the HEPROs.
Muftahu, therefore, said that HEPROs primary responsibility was to oversee and manage the university’s organisation and various functions.
According to Muftahu, a country’s overall development is dependent on the strength of its higher education system, which is heavily reliant on the presence and contributions of the HEPROs.
“The development of HEPROs is important to the management and quality of higher education.
“In Malaysia, the Ministry of Higher Education established an academy named Higher Education Leadership Academy.
“Its aim is to provide leadership development for the top and mid-level management of Malaysia’s higher education Institutions and further to develop and strengthen the leadership of Malaysia’s higher education,” he said.
He, therefore, lamented that there was no such kind of public academy to support HEPROs learning and training activities in higher education Institutions in Nigeria.
“Also, there is a public academy or body providing training to HEPROs in the practical skills of higher education,” the don added.
Muftahu, however, said that the inaugural lecture aimed not to discredit the government’s efforts in restructuring Nigeria’s higher education system, adding, “nor does it seek to instantaneously transform its ecosystem.”
He said that it was intended to create an awareness among the stakeholders to understand that developing a workable higher education system as well as
understanding its problems and challenges required the scholarship and expertise of trained higher education professionals,
“One of the mechanisms for building such experts and professionals for a nation requires the recognition and institutionalisation of higher education as a field study and professional practise,” he said.
Muftahu recommended the institutionalisation of higher education professional practice in Nigeria.
He said, “It is important for the government to initiate a framework or policies to continuously support higher education development and involving HEPROs training and development.”
He also urged the Ministries of Education in Nigeria to consider establishing public academies or institutions akin to that of Malaysia with a primary focus on providing specialized training and development for HEPROs.
“Every higher education Institution in Nigeria must implement a professional training system and provide opportunities for HEPROs to receive training,” he said.
Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of KASU, Prof Abdullahi Musa, described the inaugural lecturer’s recommendations as key to higher institutions’ growth and productivity.
“Immediately after the inaugural lecture, I will discuss with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academics and Registrar where we will form a committee with the inaugural lecturer as Chairman.
“This is to ensure that KASU is the first university to come up with higher education as a field of study,” he said.
Musa added that they would also form another committee to be chaired by the inaugural lecturer to ensure KASU was one of the institutions in Nigeria to have a cadre for higher education.
“We will do this through partnership with the state’s Head of Service and office of the Secretary to the State Government and Ministry of Education,” Musa said.
Speaking further, the V-C said, “one basic principle in KASU is that we don’t always see problems as challenges.
“We look at problems as an opportunity to do the right things. At least three Professors will be picked to make presentations every quarter in the institution.” (NAN)
Edited by Bashir Rabe Mani