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Tribune Online
New transport varsity and transport education in Nigeria

education

SUCCESSIVE federal administrations paid lIp service to transport education. However, the present administration IS establishing tertiary level transport university education as one of the main domains of public intervention in the socio-economic sectors because of the challenges in the total development of the country.  This perhaps is in line with my previous submissions  that post-primary transport education formed the basis of enormous breakthrough in transport technological transformation and a significant aspect of human capital investment of the government for the overall productivity of its people and transport development of the country. The continuous pursuit of knowledge and intellectual formation in transportation is basic to wealth creation of the society through well-packaged transport educational programmes at the university level.

Given this background, this administration faces the challenge of human capital development in transportation in the hitherto the sleeping giant of Africa.  Considering the fact that tertiary institutions that train transport graduates in Nigeria and Africa are very few, expansion of the training capacity and provision of training opportunities for those that will turn around the fortune of transport development in the country is of essence. Therefore, in line with its educational development policy and the challenges of meeting the transport, logistics and mobility needs of 21st century, a Federal University of Transport is obviously a necessity. It is also important to recall that Nigerians are among the highest student groups demanding higher education in transport in the whole of Africa. There are few universities offering all- embracing courses in transport studies in the country, starting with the Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye) in 1992. As such, allowing several thousands of the citizens to parade the streets aimlessly on the hills of ‘no-vacancies’ in public universities is most unacceptable to the current administration. This further necessitated a federal transport university.  An inquisitive mind may ask: Why a University of Transport?

This is perhaps what many education administrators and development policy makers initially found intriguing. The present administration has never left anyone in doubt of its desire to develop transport systems in Nigeria beyond its initial state of flux. The terrible state of infrastructure across the land the attitude of previous administrations in the country that looked down on transport workers and indeed the transport profession must have made the government to take the bold step of  establishing a specialised university for transport. The Nigerian government therefore becomes the first in Africa to have a Transport University, due in part to its focus on transport human capital development. Mind you, we have a specialised university of science and technology, that of agriculture, and even petroleum, but the discipline and profession that moves the nation across the regions was left out. The demand for transport professionals to manage transport and logistic functions is well understood. There are academic programmes, though in very few countries, to produce professionals to meet the increasing demands across the continent. Without doubt, the continent suffers from relative scarcity in the supply of college graduates with appropriate skills to manage transport and logistics in different domains, leaving the managerial and operational activities at the top level to foreigners. Moreover, indigenously produced academics and professionals have been under-represented in logistics and transport education and careers relative to the percentage of Nigerians in other sectors of higher education and in the labour force. Without doubt, the number of independent colleges and universities with logistics and transport programmes in Nigeria is very limited and only few offer transport and logistics degree programmes or have a concentration on supply chain management and administration and basic logistics operation and management. This is despite the fact that the demand for transport and logistics education is on the rise.

In the 1990s, some studies reported that the demand for people in logistics and transport profession was increasing but the number of qualified students was low, primarily because transport and logistics was academic, and professional programmes were considered unpopular and those undergoing the programme  ne’er-do-wells. During the said time, there was limited exposure to the potentials of transport and logistics major and, therefore, there were no well-articulated career paths and opportunities. However, in the last one and half decades, there has been an increasing level of understanding regarding transport and logistics, particularly in relation to managerial and government policies and decision making. This has led to increasing recognition of the discipline and practice of transport and logistics as a profession; and as an educational discipline that is fundamental to functional efficiency of business and trade. Moreover, it was not until recently that the government and private firms viewed transport and logistics as a strategic tool for the survival of business and governmental policies rather than a support function that any graduate can adapt to without requisite educational background. Obviously, one factor that has led to the increasing recognition of transport and logistics as a profession and educational discipline and as such, acceptance by the academia and industry, particularly in Africa, is the change in the global direction of economic growth and development.

This includes deregulation not only in transportation industry but also to the entire economy, leading to the need for greater private participation in business by the organized private sector, regaining customer competition and more importantly, globalization of customer services, business and trade.

The transportation system in the continent is in a state of flux; accompanied by rapid and uncontrolled urbanization, accelerating rural-urban migration, and prolonged economic downturn. This speaks volume about transport supply, transportation or mobility quality, environmental side effects, traffic congestion, rate of accidents and transport criminality. In the context of road transport system infrastructure in the continent, it can rightly be said that urbanization process has not been accompanied with a corresponding supply of efficient transport system (Oyesiku, 2001; 2002; 2013). This has necessitated a galloping demand for transport system leading to gross transport externalities. These have serious implications on the nation’s security and consequently, on economic and social development of the country. In recent time, the provision of sustainable transportation system for all has been intensified in the continent; but surprisingly, associated transport facilities remain grossly inadequate, such that millions of Africans now travel using substandard mode and unfriendly travel environment, with transport difficulties having become an inevitable part of the most cities and regions.

What is perhaps very obvious is the absence of adequacy of transport policies and regulations particularly land based transportation mode. This becomes more pertinent considering the fact that road transportation not only dominates transportation system in the continent and perhaps is the most developed of all modes with over 90% of transportation demands being met by this mode of transport. It is again this mode of transport that has employs a significant proportion of informal sector of the labour force by running the public transport consisting of mini bus, taxi, and motorcycle operations. The land based transportation system in the continent is also beleaguered by poor connectivity, low density and low accessibility index and in a manner, making the overall transport system unsustainable.

It is against this backdrop that transport and logistics education becomes very vital to redress the chaotic transportation scene. This is more so that the transportation system over the years has suffered from poor planning and design, shabby construction, technical and financial neglect and above all, very poor maintenance culture cumulating in the rapid deterioration of the road infrastructure that has responded to high demand and poor governance.

It is also observed that substantial proportion of those in the transport and logistics sector of the regions have inadequate skills. However, the extent of this varies from one country to another. Moreover, there is a serious skill shortage in the sector throughout the world, and as such there is continuous demand for professionals in transport and logistics field in every country. What further complicate the challenges of the transportation scene in recent times are the consequences of globalization and various economic adjustment programmes that have led to increasing growth in the field as well as great tendency for outsourcing. The logistics and transport sector, particularly supply chain management has become the most outsourced business in recent times and is still on the increase.

 

TRANSPORT AND LOGISTICS EDUCATION

Transport Education, as a form of manpower development, prepares trainees for industrial-wide technical, workplace and academic skill competencies and management responsibility in the transport industry.  It develops the graduate’s personality, behavioural pattern, performance capacity without a reference to a specific job.  Through transport and logistics education, knowledge, skills and attitudes are to be also acquired, while individuals are expected to have personal effectiveness competencies and management knowledge to be able to fit into any segment of the transport industry.  Thus, with adequate transport education the saying “once a railwayman, always a railwayman” do not necessarily fit into modern training and manpower development in transport.  It is for this reason that transport and logistics education is designed to cover knowledge of the industry as a whole.  At University level, transportants and logisticians are expected to show competency and satisfactory knowledge of transport management and control, manpower development and industrial relation, transport economics, transport policy and planning and working understanding of some modes of transport as specialization, transport provision,  declining friction of distance, transport technology issues and challenges in theory and methodology, environment and energy Issues, transport demand and supply, transport infrastructure to mention but these few.

 

CHALLENGES OF TRANSPORT AND LOGISTICS EDUCATION

There is a wide array of challenges of the transport and logistics education across the nation and indeed the continent,  which the newly established university may eventually address: Lack of Visibility of Transport and Logistics Education;  Inadequate Intensive Internship Opportunities and Institution-Industry Collaboration;  Increased Educational and Professional Alienation;  Absence of Workable and Domesticated Transport Policy None Domestication of International Charter of Institute of Logistics and Transport;  Un-Delineation Transport and Logistics as a Discipline and a Profession;  Docility of Transport and Logistics Professional Body;  and Inadequacy of Qualified Academic and Teaching Staff with Right Skills:

There is still a dearth of professionally qualified staff across the continent as well as in the training and education facilities available to transportants and would be professionals.  So far, there is hardly any country that could meet the demand of the workforce, while the institutions offering degree programmes in the field are still scanty.  The institutions are just too few to cope with the demand for skill and knowledge acquisition in transport fields

Transport and Logistics education is an integral process of manpower development and research in transport industry.  To ensure that there is effective and efficient transport industry in any country, efforts should be made to have graduates that are well trained with requisite competencies, train and retrain regularly employees in transport organisations and make the trainee more productive to meet the dynamic challenges inherent in their different jobs.  As I often repeated and remarked “good transport needs good well-planned training resources which are properly and fully used, good transport management needs something more – a good transport education.

In terms of the location of the Federal Transport University, well it does not matter where the established Transport University is located. As long as in Nigeria and for all Nigerians.  Internships for certain specialised fields can be done anywhere in Nigeria where such facilities are available especially Maritime based transport subspecialisation.

On a side note, as the Federal Government has taken bold step the establish critical professional and essential disciplines university, it is imperative to note that teachers are indeed the most important human capital resource to invest on, to develop, and more of the essence to provide for. Considering the high student-teacher ratio at both the secondary and primary school levels, the poor image often attributed to the teachers and the attitude of previous administration in the country that look down on teachers and indeed the teaching profession as belonging to the wretched, the Government should also take a courageous step of not only revamping the image of teachers but also establishing a specialized university for teacher education in the country. The first established University o f Education in the country, the Ogun State Government owned Tai Solarin University of Education should be part of the consideration in this regard.

 

  • Professor Oyesiku, the immediate past national deputy president, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, and former vice chancellor, teaches at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Centre for Transport Studies.

New transport varsity and transport education in Nigeria
Tribune Online



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