EXAMINING HIGHER EDUCATION IN NIGERIA AS CORRELATES OF YOUTH PREPARATION FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP
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Background to the Study
Higher education, as defined by National Policy on Education (1998) is the education given after secondary education in Universities, Colleges of education, Polytechnics, Monotechnics, including those institutions offering correspondence courses. The goals of tertiary education in Nigeria as spelt out by the policy are: to contribute to national development through high level relevant manpower training; to develop and inculcate proper values for the survival of the individual and society; to develop the intellectual capability of individuals to understand and appreciate their local and external environment; to acquire both physical and intellectual skills which will enable individuals to be self-reliant and useful members of the society; to promote and encourage scholarship and community service; to forge and cement national unity; and to promote national and international understanding and interaction.
On the other hand, Schumpeter (1994) defines entrepreneurship as the ability to perceive and undertake business opportunities, taking advantage of scarce resource utilization. In simplest form, entrepreneurship is the willingness and the ability to seek out investment opportunities and to run an enterprise for profit. In this later sense, entrepreneurship takes premium over capital. It is equally more fundamental than capital because capital formation is the result of entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurs are therefore regarded as central figures in economic development. Their contributions run through labour actions, movement of capital goods and conversion of raw materials into finished products, and ultimately, effectual distribution of the products to final consumers.
Entrepreneurs are therefore those who search and discover economic opportunities, marshal the financial and other resources necessary for the development of the opportunities, evaluate alternatives available in the environment and allocate resources to the most profitable ones as well as take the ultimate responsibility for the management and/or successful execution of opportunities. An Entrepreneur is somewhat comfortable with taking and assuming risks which are impassioned with the dream being pursued. He or she knows where to get help, and when it is needed as well as being ever ready to receive changes in the business surrounding environment (Schumpeter, 1994).
Consequently, institutions of higher learning in Nigeria are expected to commence training high level manpower whose characteristics are usually obsessive, focused, articulate, and resourceful. In this way graduates will turn out typically charismatic leaders, and tend to be introspective in the skills of job creation, wealth generation and innovative skill utilization.
Besides, empowering Nigerian youths towards wealth creation, employment generation, poverty reduction and value re-orientation (NEEDS, 2005) is a foremost cardinal point for strategic macro-economic framework. This also reflects in the recent increase in the demand for educational programmes in entrepreneurship in the country’s tertiary institutions, parastatals and non-governmental paradigms. If fully satisfied, this new vision and values would shine the spotlight on small medium scale business activities in Nigeria. Thus, increased higher education on entrepreneurial skills would create that perfect opportunity to stimulate economic growth. Higher institutions of learning are therefore to properly train individual youths who will have the right tools necessary to commence and grow successful businesses with reduced risk of failure. It is in this vain of activities that higher education contributes to human resource development in many ways. Investment in higher education therefore remains a key contributor to the nation’s economic growth.
Higher institutions in Nigeria have been saddled with the main responsibility of training both youths and the nation’s professional personnel such as managers, scientists, engineers and technicians who participate in the development, adaptation and diffusion of innovations in the country. The development of higher education in the country is correlated with economic development. However, matching the quality of the products of institutions of higher learning in the country at present with the country’s higher educational laudable goals simply reveals that the Nigerian nation has not yet found her path on what was planned for it through higher education in terms of preparing the youths for entrepreneurship. It is against this background that this study examines the extent to which higher education in Nigeria has really succeeded in preparing youths for entrepreneurship and the world of work.
Statement of Problem
It is worthwhile to re-emphasize here that entrepreneurs and the small businesses they create are economic stimulators. Our country’s economic growth hinges on our ability to create new jobs through entrepreneurship, and successful entrepreneurship, in turn, requires well-trained graduates from our institutions of higher learning who are aspiring entrepreneurs willing to take the helm of venture creation. But the underpinning issue at this point still remains ascertaining whether the quality of education offered at present by tertiary institutions in the country is the one assuring the genuine preparation of young graduates for entrepreneurship and not for job seeking. The above issue of concern is predicated on the apparent hues and cry of many scholars (Tawari, 2002; and Okoroma, 2006) about the poor quality and falling standard of tertiary education in Nigeria, which is seriously incapacitating the system from producing the right type of graduates that suits the desired human capital needed for job creation and genuine economic growth and development in the country.
This study therefore attempts to examine the extent to which higher education in Nigeria has prepared the youths for entrepreneurship.
Purpose of Study
The aim of this study includes the following:
- To examine the extent to which university education influences the development of students’ intellectual skill for entrepreneurship;
- To ascertain whether university education influences the development of students’ affective skill for entrepreneurship; and
- To determine the extent to which university education influences the development of students’ psychomotor skill for entrepreneurship.
In order to successfully achieve the above objectives, the questions below were raised to guide the study.
- Has university education been influential to the development of students’ intellectual skill for entrepreneurship?
- How relevant is university education to the development of students’ affective skill for entrepreneurship?
- To what extent has university education been influential to the development of students’ psychomotor skill for entrepreneurship?
The hypotheses below were stated for the study.
- University education has not significantly influenced the development of students’ intellectual skill for entrepreneurship.
- University education has not significantly influenced the development of students’ affective skill for entrepreneurship.
- University education has not significantly influenced the development of students’ psychomotor skill for entrepreneurship.
Significance of the Study
- This study is significant for providing relevant information on the need to improve on higher education towards proper preparation of undergraduates for the world of work.
- It will also be a sensitization document to undergraduates and anybody who accesses it on the paramount importance of going for entrepreneurship skills development education programmes to acquire relevant skills that will enable one survive in a depressed economy.
- The results of the study are also meant to create a high level of awareness among prospective graduates on the relevance of entrepreneurship education.
- The study is also significant for articulating the need for education planners and Nigerian tertiary institutions’ authorities (private and public) to direct effort at inculcating courses for entrepreneurship development skills into tertiary institutions’ curricula and programmes.
Scope of the Study
This study focused on examining higher education in Nigeria as correlates of youth preparation for entrepreneurship. It was limited to determining the extent to which Nigerian higher education programmes have influenced the development of the intellectual, affective and psychomotor skills of youths for entrepreneurship. The study was limited to institutions of higher learning in Lagos State. Besides, only two hundred students sampled from these institutions were involved in the study.
Definition of Terms
The terms below were operationally defined relative to their usage in the study.
Entrepreneur: This is a motivated person who seeks profits by undertaking such risky activities as starting new businesses, creating new products, or inventing new ways of accomplishing tasks.
Entrepreneurship: This is the creative ability or skills of individuals to seek profits by taking risks and combining resources to produce innovative products.
University Education: This is the education given after secondary education in universities, including those institutions in the universities offering graduate and post graduate correspondence courses.