One of the English-speaking countries in West Africa, The Gambia, has solicited postgraduate scholarships in Nigerian universities for its students.
He said Gambia is particularly interested in postgraduate scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
“Because of the relationship we have between Banjul and Abuja, we are here to seek support for scholarships at the postgraduate level in different areas, especially in STEM, and to know whether the TVET are under your purview, because this is something we want to see in getting support in that area, and also in capacity building.
“As you know, education liberates the individual. We want to have functional education, one thing is to have your Masters and PhDs but then, the other thing is for you to be able to solve societal problems,” Gomez posited.
The minister, who also called for support in the area of capacity building, said, “We still have developmental issues and we strongly believe higher education can change the situation.”
Responding, the acting Executive Secretary of the NUC, Maiyaki, who was joined by other directors in the commission, assured the minister of support, saying Nigeria would not relent in playing a big brother role despite having its own challenges.
” Even though we don’t have enough access, every year, we have about two million Nigerian kids (students) applying to universities and we barely meet up to 50 per cent.
“If you take electricity supply, Nigeria is not self-sufficient but we provide electricity to the Niger Republic, that is our deliberate friendly stance from Independence..,” the NUC boss said.
Maiyaki expressed delight that the visit came on the heels of the recent launch of Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards in the Nigerian University System.
“Our new curriculum has just been launched and the visit is taking place at a time when Nigeria re-engineered its curriculum. CCMAS is revolutionary and dynamic,” he said.
Speaking further, Maiyaki said Nigeria had also opened up its higher education space to attract major players across the globe through the transactional education guidelines put in place by the NUC.
“We have decided to open up the Nigerian higher education space so that we can invite players, genuine players. We are open to very well-meaning interventions, foreign universities are at liberty to come,” Maiyaki said.
On the request for postgraduate scholarships, Maiyaki urged the Gambian minister to send a formal proposal on the specific programmes and universities of choice in order for the NUC to process the request.
While saying the NUC was also ready to encourage joint research between scholars in Nigeria and those in Gambia to address shared problems, Maiyaki revealed that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board had come up with a plan that would attract about 500 students from Gambia to Nigerian universities and called for exploration of the opportunity.