By Gabriel Chy Alonta
Business education growth and development in Nigeria for effective students skills acquisition, employability and self reliance upon graduation is the crux of the 32rd Annual National Conference organised by the Association of Business Educators of Nigeria (ABEN).
The 2-day conference themed: Organising and Managing Business Education in Nigeria, was held in Awka, the Anambra state capital, and was attended by business education scholars, students and other notable academics across the country.
Speaking during the conference, the Keynote Speaker and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), University of Uyo, Prof. Enoidem Usoro, noted that it had become desideratum to reassess the efficacy of business education programme, regretting that most graduates failed to acquire the needed skills upon graduation.
According to her, coronavirus pandemic and concomitant restiveness in Nigeria needed urgent attention, and that business educators cannot afford to be left behind.
“As business educators, we must think outside the box. We need to rethink and chart a new course for business education programme in Nigeria, by ensuring we employ emerging method of delivery via virtual environment for better skill acquisition and development.
“We need to reappraise what business education in Nigeria is, to ensure that business educators and graduates remain competitive, as well as to cope with challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is lack of or inadequate instructional equipment and laboratory tools, resulting in many graduates of business education roaming the street with their certificates looking for white collar jobs for obvious failure to acquire sufficient and entrepreneurial skills to establish businesses of their own.”
Calling on the government to urgently address the infrastructural decay in business education programme, the keynote speaker harped on the need to to harmonise the curriculum structure of the programme in universities; while expressing optimism that the conference would do justice in addressing the issues and offer realistic solutions. She, therefore, charged business educators to be committed and ensure professionalism in their day-to-day teaching activities.
Also speaking, the lead paper presenter, Prof. Christian Oduma, from Ebonyi State University, Abakiliki, urged business educators to ensure adequate preparations and quality instruction to enable students acquire requisite skills and attitude that would help them have competitive advantage over their peers.
He called for review of business education programme to meet with the challenges and realities on ground, noting that there could never be any effective teacher without good curriculum.
In an address, Prof. Chika Madu Ile, ABEN national president, said the annual conference was aimed at providing desirable platforms for experts to converge and rub minds on critical issues bothering on business education curriculum and practices; as well as business and entrepreneurship skills with view to proffering solutions.
According to him, the issues are ignited by changes in technology, the environment, the workplace, work demands, and the dynamism of the society.
Speaking on the theme, the national president said: “Business education programme need to be properly organised and managed so that it can fulfill its mandate of ensuring that students are properly guided through carefully planned experiences that will offer them the opportunity to master knowledge, skills and attitudes needed not only to succeed in business but also to have equal opportunity to succeed in life”.
Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Charles Esimone, while declaring the conference open, described the theme as very apt, emphasising the need to impact skills on business education students to enable them become self independent.
Esimone, represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Frederick Odibo, disclosed that his administration was already building edifice structure for the vocational education in the university, while reassuring his unflinching support to ABEN.
In a vote of thanks, the chairperson of local organising committee (LOC), Prof. Comfort Okolocha, urged participants to use the opportunity of the conference to develop framework for efficient content delivery, as well as enrol in self developmental courses. This, she said, would help business educators better equipped to impact life-long skills.
Highpoint of the 2-day conference was the investiture and conferment of ABEN Honorary Fellowship Award to the Unizik Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone.