Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has urged universities, especially their business schools, to adopt the international practice of providing opportunities for academically qualified professionals and executives to teach in their institutions.
He said embracing such a practice would boost the capacity of the universities to offer a more practice-oriented approach to train their students with the relevant proficiency, tenacity and skill set needed for them to succeed in their work after their graduation.
“Introducing academically qualified executives into the university classrooms could also help address the skill gap between academia and industry,” he stated.
Mr Kufuor was speaking at the maiden graduation of the Nobel International Business School (NIBS) in Accra last Saturday.
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“The global tertiary educational system is currently in an era when university faculty members are required to be both academically prepared and professionally abreast of ongoing development in their respective fields of teaching endeavours,” he said.
In all, 11 corporate executives from Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Zimbabwe and Canada who pursued three-year doctoral programmes at the university were graduated and honoured with doctoral degrees.
Among the graduates was Dr Ibrahim Awal Mohammed, the Minister of Business Development and former Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited.
The Executive Director of DevApps Limited, Dr Mercy Omari-Tenkorang, was honoured with the Most Outstanding Student award, while the Head of Financial Institute/International Organisation RAM AWA, Ecobank, Dr Naomi Wolali Kwetey, took the Most Practical Thesis award, with the Chief Executive Officer of the Precise Financial System, Nigeria, Dr Akinyele Osuolale Okeremi, receiving the Most Disciplined Student award.
Bridging the gap
Mr Kufuor said in recent times, university education in Ghana had evolved, especially with the introduction of a boutique business school as implemented by NIBS, with its singular aim to train executives to obtain advanced degrees at the doctoral level.
Such a development, he said, had exposed the need to have executives who would become an integral part of the faculty in universities.
“Undeniably, it has been observed that there is the need for tertiary institutions to increase the relevance of their curricula through the introduction of new approaches that pedagogically satisfy academicians and, at the same time, meet practitioner needs.
“This has led to the increased calls for the initiation of proactive measures aimed at bridging the academic-practitioner divide,” he stated.
The former President said Corporate Ghana had also noted an increasing lack of fresh graduates who possessed the relevant proficiency, tenacity and skill set needed to succeed in the real world of work situations.
He said the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the foremost international accreditation body, had substantiated the call for the deployment of doctoral qualified executive faculty into university classrooms.
“In its view, good academic preparation and relevant professional experience are both required to produce capable and well-rounded graduates who, in turn, would be capable of taking up faculty positions.
“This adds more value to the overall classroom experience, and this is exactly what I understand NIBS offers,” he stated.
Former President Kufuor said with such an innovative, forward-looking learning model, NIBS was able to produce seasoned executive doctoral graduates who could apply their knowledge not only to solve real world problems in their organisations but also provide real world business and management training for the new generation of students.
The President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG), Prof. Kwame Bosiako Omane-Antwi, who also addressed the graduation ceremony, described the educational model adopted by NIBS as an excellent one that would certainly produce graduates who were authentic leaders, visionary and passionate about achieving results.
“Quality education has the power to transform societies, provide citizens with the protection they need from the hazards of poverty, labour exploitation and diseases,” he said, and added that “NIBS is an example of a model university of the 21st century set up to provide a standard of education that matches that of most developed countries today”.
Make an impact
The Programme Director of the NIBS Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) course, Dr Livingstone Caesar, challenged the graduates to use the knowledge and skills they had acquired to make a positive impact in their communities.
“Use your knowledge to proffer workable solutions to the many problems our business and general communities are battling on a daily basis. This is the essence of a doctorate, as anything less than that will be a serious shortcoming on your part,” he told the graduates.
Dr Omari-Tenkorang, on behalf of the graduates, thanked the faculty and staff of the NIBS for “helping to develop a new breed of executives who have gained some mastery and analytical minds to help solve the myriad of challenges facing the African continent”.