Following up from my previous article, I think there are simple ways in which the government can effectively ensure that Higher Education institutions are blending theory with practice.
First what does it mean to blend theory with practice and enable the employability of students upon graduation?
most institutions in Cameroon both private and public focus highly on theory, we have excellent course content that provides you with good knowledge but your ability to transform such knowledge into practice is the greatest challenge. Teachers therefore need to take simple practical steps to ensure whatever students are being taught, they are also given the opportunity to practice it. and these are some of the ways.
1. Role Play simulations.
Role play simulations entails teachers creating projects and enabling students to work in teams with each student taking up a particular role and acting in that perspective. They are expected to work efficiently, applying theiry acquired and achieving the desired goals. Such needs to be done under close supervision with the teacher giving constant guidance.
2. Research and consulting projects.
Teachers need to approach companies to handover some of their real life projects to their students to work in teams with the students having regulat meetings with the company representatives to feedback on the progress and development of the project. Students are very creative with a whole lot of smart ideas and are constantly looking for opportunities to demonstrate such. A consultancy project in partnership with a specific company enables the students to experience first hand what is actually happening within the company or industry even before graduating.
3. Developing a Business Idea.
Students need to be given the opportunity after having extensive Entrepreneurship trainings to develop business ideas and document such with clear business and project plans. To the teachers can then proceed to help such students to secure funding or sponsorship of some of these projects and such will end up creating more opportunities for tie students.
4. Job placement and internship.
This is very popular in Cameroon with many institutions already practicing it, however such needs to actually be a learning opportunity for the student where they are able to actually perform certain professional tasks under close supervision. Cameron team managers or line managers need to stop seeing their interns only as persons to run their errands and make their coffee for them, rather, they should be considered as valuable part of the organisation with actual useful ideas that they can bring to the organisation.
5. Employability and Professional skills Training.
This is probably the most important of them all. Acquiring employability skills enable the students to learn how to write a winning CV, attend and succeed at interviews and be able to effectively start work within the company. Professional skills at the same time has to deal with time management, communication, leadership, analytical skills and all other key skills necessary to succeed in that industry.
Teachers of both private and public higher education institutions need to be retrained on how to embed theory with practice, management of such institutions need to create Careers and Employability units or departments that will help facilitate such training and application too.
This doesn’t take much in terms of finances and human resources, but be able to train students who are employable and actually gets the job upon graduation also serves as a boost to the image of the school and goes a long way to serve as good marketing. It’s time Higher Education in Cameroon rethink on how to embrace the fast changing job market.