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Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform: ICT Agri-Business

The Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR) programme is a new competitive grant scheme established by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). It is design to catalyze innovative partnerships in low-income countries (LICs) to improve the performance, governance and influence of higher education systems and institutions with a grant possibility of £3 Million. IBB University has entered into this competition to drive ICT-Agri-Business in a Nigeria Higher Education Initiative project.

Many new jobs have appeared in 21st century of the Nigerian society demanding advanced knowledge and skills of high level professionals in the agricultural sector, health sector and other areas. Prospective students have low interest in agriculture because of obsolete contents, poor facilities and unfavourable delivery mode; while the country is currently focusing on agriculture to diversify its economy. Although Nigerian youths constitute about 60% of the total populace, youth unemployment situation is worrisome because 42.7% of them lack means of livelihood due to poor training in learning institutions and skill gaps in the labour market. There is therefore need to bridge the gap through improved training of youths; particularly in agriculture graduates to enable them become employers of labour instead of depending on white collar jobs which are not unavailable. The urgent need to bridge existing skill gaps in agriculture by matching the contents for skill training in Nigerian learning institutions with global best practices to serve current professional and practical purposes cannot be overemphasized.

The purpose of the project is to re-design a curriculum to match current Higher Education demand in Agriculture; widen access to lucrative Agricultural programmes that shall be incorporated through the project; enhance quality and Improve employability of beneficiaries of agricultural programmes in IBB University within the project catchment area, which shall be scaled in the course of further implementation.