The Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), on Friday, took a swipe at the National Universities Commission(NUC) over the proposed imposition of the newly introduced Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) on all the nation’s universities, saying the new curriculum model will further drag Nigerian university education down.
The union gave this position in a statement signed by its President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, and made available to newsmen on Friday.
According to ASUU, it is totally wrong for NUC to compel all universities to run the same 70 percent of courses and programmes, and left their respective university senates to determine the remaining 30 percent.
The union said though it is much aware that setting academic standards and assuring quality in the Nigeria university system is within the remit of the NUC, the process and inputs of generating the standard are solely the responsibility of the universities
It said all the curricular contents of 17 academic fields(representing 70 percent of all courses) that NUC churned out and proposed to compel universities to run have no inputs from the universities.
ASUU listed the affected academic disciplines to include Administration and Management, Agriculture, Allied Health Sciences, Architecture, Arts, Basic Medical Sciences, Computing, Communication and Media Studies, Education, Engineering and Technology, Environmental Sciences, Law, Medicine and Dentistry, Pharmaceutical Science, Sciences, Social Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine.
The union said the new CCMAS documents are full of shortcomings and gross inadequacies and that there are growing concerns and dissatisfaction about the development, including from the university administrators who are shying away from condemning it publicly.
ASUU pointed out that even at that, some university Senates, including that of the University of Ibadan, did not hide their displeasure with the proposed imposition of the new curriculum on Nigerian universities.
It said that UI expressed this disposition at its Senate Special Meeting held on the 16th of June, 2023, where it permitted the exhibition of the new course contents by various departments.
The union emphasised that the widespread condemnation of CCMAS documents on courses such as Administration and Management, Agriculture, Allied Health Sciences, and Architecture, for example, have no input at any level from the university senates.
It noted that this development had confined the University Senates to become spectators in their own affairs.
According to the union, communication on CCMAS to the universities suddenly came from the Facilitator/Consultant in a manner that undermines the functions of the Senate of each university, suggesting that NUC was possibly not seriously involved in the process ab initio and that the regulator was possibly brought in into the process to validate its products (CCMAS documents.
It pointed out also that “Many important components of university academic programmes were completely phased out in the new 70% CCMAS.
Giving example, the union said, “There are no Chemistry courses for students of B. Sc. Physics. Apart from Departmental and General Studies (GES/GST) courses, the 70% CCMAS has left out all other Faculty or University courses like Engineering Mathematics for Engineering students, Statistics for Science students, Philosophy and Sociology of Education courses for education students, and so forth.
It added that “Almost all departments reported one major deficiency or the other in the CCMAS.
“So, contrary to the stated intentions, the current 70% CCMAS documents have left out essential courses in university programmes which would render Nigerian graduates globally uncompetitive.
”There are omissions of core and mandatorily required contents of courses in the old BMAS from those of the 70% CCMAS, raising serious questions about the competence of the so-called experts who executed the Architecture, Arts, Basic Medical Sciences courses.
“So, there are indications of watering down of standards in some BMAS courses as their equivalents in the 70% CCMAS were poorly developed; some course contents are so shallow that graduates of such programmes would find it difficult to defend their certificates.
“A typical example is Biochemistry, where courses at the 300 and 400 levels were weakened and made superficial, bereft of contemporary trends.
Explaining further, the union said, “Unbundling some programmes such as Mass Communication as contained in the 70% CCMAS would render graduates of such programmes limited, inadequate, and subsequently unemployable in the sectors that would ordinarily want to engage their services.
“So, the idea in the CCMAS was poorly conceived, making multi-disciplinary understanding impossible in this age of inter-connectedness of things as the labour market is not in sync with narrow specialisation.
It said even though specialisation is good and acceptable, it can only be at the postgraduate and not undergraduate level.
It also pointed out that the only thing is that the developers of the new curriculum designed it to favour some specific areas of disciplines, such as Veterinary Medicine, leaving other critical areas, such as Engineering and Technology, to suffer.
The union said unification of academic curricula across an estimated 300 universities in the country is not only counterproductive but also erodes competition, innovation, and creativity.
It declared that CCMAS is a drawback for the older and more experienced universities, which justifiably see themselves as being held down for new ones to catch up.
“So, does it make much sense to force first-generation universities that have creatively developed their programmes for over six decades to run the same content courses with new universities that are yet to find their feet?
“Of course, making transcripts of Academic Records across the institutions depict the same set of courses is unhealthy and does not portray Nigerian universities as centres of creativity and innovation.
ASUU posited that CCMAS portends serious dangers for quality university education in Nigeria as it is also an erosion of university autonomy and academic freedom.
The union said there is a suspicion on its part that the imposition of CCMAS is part of strategies to implement the Nigerian University System Innovation Programme (NUSIP) of the World Bank.
“So, we reject CCMAS and its imposition on Nigerian universities in its entirety just as we did for NUSIP in the 90s,” the union declared.