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ESSENTIAL LEARNING OUTCOMES OF THE GENERAL STUDIES (GS) COURSES IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES
By Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed mni, MFR
National Universities Commission, Abuja
BEING THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS PRESENTED AT THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CURRENT TRENDS IN GENERAL STUDIES PROGRAMME: “RELEVANCE FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT”, HELD AT REDEEMERS’ UNIVERSITY AUDITORIUM BETWEEN 30TH AND 31ST MAY, 2017
It is a great pleasure, on behalf of the NUC to welcome distinguished participants from across the Universities to this conference on General Studies with the theme “Current Trends in General Studies programme: Relevance for National Development.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is yet another opportunity provided by the Universities (themselves) to move education sector to a greater height. We are happy that, such an intrinsic effort by the Redeemer’s University to assist us in the much desired change in the education sector.
The conference is apt especially now that NUC is at the threshold of reviewing the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) documents. It is on this premise that it has become imperative to critically look at the GST courses run by Nigerian universities.
The aim of the General Studies Programme (GSP) is to expose students to a course of liberal education through which they can develop and expand their awareness of social, cultural and natural environments. With the addition of this programme to the specialized courses being taken by the students, it is expected that the graduates of Nigerian Universities would go out better prepared to function in the society.
Specifically, the General Studies Programme aims at helping students develop adequate competence in the use of English Language as a tool for their studies and means of effective communication in society and in their future employment/enterprise. The course is designed to produce well rounded morally and intellectually capable graduates with vision and entrepreneurial skills in an environment of peace and social cohesiveness. It will also enable them to acquire a body of situational relevant knowledge outside their respective fields of specialization for successful living.
2.0 HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF GENERAL STUDIES PROGRAMME
The Federal Military Government on October 22nd, 1977, directed Nigerian Universities to introduce a programme on national awareness and that the programme should be made compulsory for all students in Nigerian Universities. An enabling decree was promulgated in the same year providing for the establishment and recognition of General Studies unit in all Nigerian Universities. In accordance with the provision of the Decree and the recommendation of the National Universities Commission (NUC), most universities established the General Studies Division in the early 80’s. In the year 2004, the panel on the merger of Benchmarks and Minimum Academic Standards (MAS) on General Studies, took a critical look at the University academic programme and what it takes in the production of better skilled graduates, who will be sufficiently empowered to meet the changing needs of the nation, global competitiveness, as well as the challenges of the labour market.
In view of this, they recommended some General Studies Courses which lay emphasis on cultural wholesome, education, moral instruction as well as environmental problems. The panel also took into consideration the need for every student to have a sound foundation on peace Studies and Conflict resolution. Job and career prospects of the Nigerian graduates have been taken into consideration and efforts have been made to improve on the Communication and entrepreneur skills as well as knowledge on Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The essence is to produce a more knowledgeable, skilled and entrepreneur conscious graduates.
3.0 NATIONAL POLICY ON EDUCATION AND THE GOALS OF TERTIARY
The National Policy on Education has identified the goals of tertiary education in Nigeria as follows:
i. Contribute to national development through high level relevant manpower training.
ii. Develop and inculcate proper values for the survival of the individual and society.
iii. Develop the intellectual capability of individuals to understand and appreciate their local and external environments.
iv. Acquire both physical and intellectual skills which will enable individuals to be self-reliant and useful members of the society.
v. Promote and encourage scholarship and community service.
vi. Forge and cement national Unity, and
vii. Promote national and International Understanding and interaction.
In order to actualize the goals of tertiary education enumerated above, General Studies programme was introduced into Nigerian Universities Curriculum.
4.0 APPROVED GENERAL STUDIES COURSES
The GST courses approved by NUC for Nigerian Universities includes among others: Communication in English, Logic, Philosophy and Human Existence, Nigeria People and Culture, Use of Library & Study Skills. Others are a course in Arabic or French, History and philosophy of Science, Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, Entrepreneurial Skills, Contemporary Health Issues, as well as Leadership Skills.
5.0 GENERAL STUDIES COURSES, THEIR OBJECTIVES & ESSENTIAL LEARNING OUTCOMES (ELO)
The General Studies Courses in the BMAS are essentially designed to achieve eight set of GST objectives which overlap with 7 ELOs. However, no GST objective overlaps with programme competence, which is associated with learning in a major area of study/discipline/field. Teamwork and Collaboration, which fits courses that include assignments requiring group projects, peer review, or workshops, and Information Literacy and Research Skills, which fits courses that require any form of research, evaluation of sources, citation or integration of published work into a student produced project, do not directly match a single General Studies objective, either; however, both may appear in a wide variety of courses across the General Studies curriculum.
The table below presents an alignment of General Studies courses, their Objectives to Essential Learning Outcomes (ELO).
GST Courses Goals/Objectives Essential Learning Outcomes
Contemporary Health Issues Objective 7: Development of a conceptual framework with which to assimilate new experiences—and the ability to adapt it as necessary.
Adapting to Change
Entrepreneurship Objective 8: Appreciation and understanding of artistic experiences as reflections of the depths and quirks of the human spirit.
Creativity & Innovation
Philosophy Logic Objective 3: Ability to reason logically and abstractly and to comprehend and criticize arguments.
Use of English Objective 5: Ability to write and speak effectively and persuasively.
Peace & Conflict Resolution Objective 2: Commitment to citizenship, through the ability to make informed decisions about public issues—while conscious of one’s responsibility for doing so and of one’s responsibility as an individual for the social
Objective 13: Critical understanding of one’s owns values and those of others, and of their role in making ethical choices.
Nigerian Peoples & Culture Objective 11: Awareness of the achievements and perspectives of people of different nations and cultures, and of different races, genders and ethnicities.
History & Philosophy of Science Objective 4: Ability to understand numerical data so as to be able to comprehend arguments and positions that depend on numbers and statistics.
These ELOs do not directly match a single General Studies objective; however, both may appear in a wide variety of courses across the General Studies curriculum.
Teamwork and Collaboration
Information Literacy and Research Skills
In conclusion, I would like to assure you that, the National Universities Commission would be glad to receive the summary of deliberations of this important conference, so as to key in the major issues raised in order to improve the delivery of General Studies programme in our Universities.
NUC on its own part and in keeping with the developing trends the World over, continually introduces programme/courses ascertain to be relevant by all the stakeholders in the education sector, the Gender Transformation Leadership was developed in collaboration with UNESCO and will soon be available to the Nigerian Universities.
Once again I congratulate the University for conducting this Conference.
I thank you for the invitation to present this Keynote address.
Thank you all for your attention.