– As deans say curriculum requires further review
Deans of accredited faculties/schools of Pharmacy in the country say they have started discussing modalities for implementing the Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standard (CCMAS) document.
The new curriculum dispensation was recently introduced across the nation’s universities by the National Universities Commission (NUC), to “reflect 21st-century realities”.
Speaking at the unveiling in Abuja, in December 2022, the Executive Secretary, NUC, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, said the development of the CCMAS was part of the commission’s efforts to fulfil its mandate of making university education in Nigeria more responsive to the needs of society.
Rasheed added that the process leading to the new document had begun in 2018, with the overhauling of the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS). This, he said, involved reexamination of existing disciplines and programmes in the Nigerian university system and introducing new ones.
The CCMAS document is structured to provide for 70 per cent of core courses for each programme, while allowing individual institutions to utilise the remaining 30 per cent for other innovative courses in their particular areas of interest.
The NUC has mandated all faculties in all the universities across the country to comply with the new curriculum.
Speaking with Pharmanewsonline on the new curriculum, the Chairman, Committee of Deans of accredited schools/faculties of Pharmacy, Professor Olubunmi Afolabi said the committee is already in touch with the NUC regarding the modalities for implementing the stipulations of the CCMAS.
According Afolabi, going by the CCMAS, the NUC has given 70 per cent content, totalling 198 units, for the B.Pharm. programme, which will run for five years. This is an increase from the previous 150 units.
She also explained that for PharmD, a six-year-programme that the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) has mandated all accredited schools/faculties of pharmacy to run, the 70 per cent content that the NUC provided stands at 232 units, an increase from the previous 180.
According to Afolabi, “The NUC has also said we cannot remove anything from what they have given us because it is the minimum. The problem we now have and what we are saying is that the 198 units for B.Pharm. and 232 units for PharmD are already an overload for the students. To now add 30 per cent to it again will be something else.”
On the way forward, the committee chairman said, “At our last meeting, my committee deliberated extensively on the curriculum and wrote out our positions. On PharmD, we are asking the NUC to make what they have given us to be the 100 per cent of what we should be teaching the students and not 70 per cent as they are recommending. Because if what they have given us is made to be 70 per cent, it means our students will be carrying a heavy load of about 331 units, which will be too heavy for a six-year programme.
“It means the students will be carrying about 26 units per semester; whereas, the pharmacy programme is already loaded for now. We have written a letter and sent it to NUC. The new curriculum is more of an imbroglio now, not just in pharmacy courses, but also in other courses and we are currently held up.”
Afolabi however said the NUC had not responded to the committee’s letter, as of the time of writing this report.
She said, “They have not responded as of today but we have started pulling strings, because like I said earlier, Pharmacy is not the only course affected; it also affects Engineering, Medicine, among others.
“NUC are saying what they have given us is sacrosanct; we on the other hand are saying, if what you are giving us is sacrosanct, then don’t ask us to add anything. So we did not just send the letter to the NUC, but we asked all deans of schools/faculties of pharmacy to take the letter to the vice-chancellor of their various universities and tell them that the letter contains our position as the deans; so each university is also meeting
Afolabi however stressed that the committee is not in any way working against the NUC on the new curriculum.