By Adedotun Ajayi.
The perception of Nigerian graduates as ‘half Baked,’ irrespective of their degree category, often stems from the prevailing mindset during their academic years. The emphasis in our educational institutions tends to be on graduating to secure a job, rather than fostering a culture of graduating to create employment opportunities or, even more importantly, becoming impactful contributors to society.”
For those graduates tirelessly searching for jobs without exploring alternative ways to contribute meaningfully to their families and communities, Khalid Okunade, an academic figure and legal practitioner, aptly labels them as ‘HALF BAKED GRADUATES.’
Furthermore, Okunade highlights a broader concern about the state of Nigerian tertiary institutions, asserting that they lag behind their counterparts in neighboring African countries. Issues such as dearth of robust research, inconsistent academic practices, and a curriculum that lacks real-world focus have collectively tarnished the quality of education imparted to millions of undergraduates in our higher learning institutions.
In recent years, Nigerian universities, which have long been seen as bastions of higher education, have been facing a troubling issue – the production of graduates termed “half-baked.” This growing concern has raised questions about the underlying factors contributing to this phenomenon.
According to educationalist Joshua Oloruntoba, higher education in Nigeria grapples with substantial challenges, leading to the production of graduates perceived as ‘half-baked.’ Oloruntoba highlights chronic issues, foremost among them being the persistent underfunding of universities. The inadequacy of resources, outdated facilities, and a shortage of qualified teaching staff create obstacles to effective education.
The shortage of instructors results in overburdened faculty members and larger class sizes, jeopardizing educational quality. Additionally, outdated curricula and inconsistent quality control mechanisms contribute to a lack of standardized educational practices across institutions. Corruption within the education system further compounds these challenges, affecting admission processes and leading to examination malpractice, ultimately undermining the competence of graduates.
Nigerian universities sometimes prioritize theoretical knowledge over practical skills, leaving graduates ill-prepared for real-world applications. Limited access to technology and a lack of emphasis on research culture contribute to graduates struggling in a digital world. The absence of career guidance, language barriers, and insufficient development of soft skills further leave many graduates unequipped for successful job market navigation.
In response to these challenges, there is a growing call for comprehensive reform in the Nigerian higher education system. Proposed measures include increased funding, updated curricula to meet contemporary demands, and a stronger emphasis on practical skills development.
Recognizing the impact of graduates on global competitiveness and national growth, addressing the issue of “half-baked” graduates is deemed a pressing and essential task for Nigeria’s sustained global standing and economic development,” he concluded.
Another academic, Professor Olaniyi Okunlola from the Department of Agricultural Extension and Communication Technology at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), expressed concerns about the repercussions of a shortage of manpower within the university system. According to him, this scarcity leads to inefficiency and ineffectiveness in teaching and student supervision.
In the current scenario, a single lecturer is tasked with instructing 800 to 1000 students per semester, handling six to eight courses, and overseeing supervisory responsibilities. The result is a lecturer supervising 40 students instead of the usual five, impacting the thoroughness of this work. Prof. Okunlola pointed out that this deviates from the global standard ratio of lecturers to students, contributing to the absence of any Nigerian university in the top 1000 global rankings.
The issue of manpower shortage is further exacerbated, as Prof. Okunlola highlighted the lack of academic staff recruitment at FUTA over the years. Retirements and transfers to foreign universities have compounded the problem, disrupting the ideal lecturer-to-student ratio. The Federal Government’s recruitment process, requiring approval from the head of service and the Accountant General of the Federation, further complicates matters.
Lists submitted for recruitment are drastically reduced, often disregarding qualified candidates.
In addition to the funding challenges faced by federal universities, Prof. Okunlola emphasized the deficiency in laboratory facilities, contributing to an overall decline in the quality of education. He stressed the importance of university autonomy in addressing these issues effectively.”
Olubunmi Adewa, an economist, in her submission said “Regrettably, our tertiary institutions of learning have reached a crisis point where all forms of social vices have expression. The trend has led to the production of half-baked graduates, who later find their way into public and private sectors of the nation’s economy. The concern of institutions of higher learning should be, in addition to academic excellence, the genuineness of character and moral uprightness of their products. The government and other related agencies, as a matter of urgency, should be more than ever determined to seek ways of leading the nation’s youth back to the straight and narrow path of propriety, ethical goodness and moral rectitude,” she said.
Also, Oyinkansola Dorathy, a concerned parent said “As a parent, witnessing the prevalence of half-baked graduates in Nigeria is disheartening. It raises questions about the effectiveness of our educational system. There’s a growing need for a more holistic approach that not only focuses on academic knowledge but also emphasizes practical skills and character development. It’s crucial for educational stakeholders to collaborate and implement reforms that ensure our children receive a well-rounded education, preparing them adequately for the challenges of the future job market,” She said.
Speaking with The Hope, a fresh graduate who doesn’t want his name in print said “Having recently completed my education, I can’t help but reflect on the challenges that contribute to the perception of half-baked graduates. The emphasis on theoretical knowledge over practical skills, limited exposure to technology, and inadequate career guidance during my academic journey have left me feeling ill-prepared for the professional world. It’s clear that there’s a need for educational reforms that bridge the gap between academia and real-world application, ensuring that graduates enter the workforce with both knowledge and practical skills to thrive in their chosen fields,” he said.
Also an undergraduate student who preferred anonymity said “As a current student, the challenges within our education system are evident. The overcrowded classrooms, outdated resources, and sometimes, a lack of practical application in our courses, raise concerns about the quality of education we’re receiving. There’s a sense of urgency for universities to address these issues, providing more opportunities for hands-on learning, updated curricula, and a supportive environment that fosters both academic and practical skills development. This, I believe, would better equip us as students and future graduates for the dynamic demands of the professional world,” she said.