The Environmental Health Council of Nigeria (EHCON) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) has begun development of Higher National Diploma (HND) curricula for environmental health specialties.
The health specialties were; environmental health (8 options), public health (3 options), epidemiology and disease control (3 options) and water sanitation/hygiene (WASH) (2 options).
Speaking at the National curriculum pre-critique and critique workshop for the development of the HND curricula options on Monday in Kaduna, the Registrar of the EHCON, Dr Yakubu Baba, said environmental health is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses various specialties including water, sanitation, hygiene, air quality, occupational health, waste management, food safety, among others.
He stressed that each of the areas is crucial for the promotion of public health and the preservation of environment.
Baba therefore, said it was imperative that Nigeria’s educational programmes reflect the current challenges and advancements in the specialties in order to produce competent and well-prepared environmental health professionals.
He, therefore also said the workshop, was aimed at critically examining the existing curricula and addressing gaps or areas that required improvement.
“Our goal is to create curricula that are comprehensive, innovative, and responsive to the evolving needs of our society. It is essential that our programs equip students with the theoretical knowledge, technical skills, and practical experience necessary to tackle complex environmental health issues,”Baba said.
The Registrar, explained that the critique would consider the curricula to incorporate the most recent research findings, global best practices, and emerging trends in environmental health.
Doing so, he said it would foster a culture of continuous learning and ensure that Nigerian graduates are well-prepared to face the challenges of a rapidly changing world.
He further said the critique must focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and integration, adding that environmental health issues do not exist in isolation but rather intersect with other fields such as engineering, public health, and policy.
“Our curricula should promote collaborative learning and problem-solving to ensure that our graduates are capable of working effectively in multidisciplinary teams,”he said.
Speaking further, Baba also said practical training and experiential learning is expected to be a core component of the curricula, noting that environmental health is a hands-on profession which graduates needed to be prepared for the realities of the field.
He, therefore said partnerships must be fostered with industries, government agencies, and NGOs to provide students with real-world experiences and internships.
He added, that the curricula is expected to incorporate the principles of sustainable development and environmental stewardship.
“Our graduates must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to promote ecological balance and mitigate the negative impacts of human activities on the environment. it is essential to pay attention to the ethical aspects of environmental health practice.
“Our curricula must also emphasise professional ethics, integrity, and social responsibility. We need to produce graduates who are not only knowledgeable and skilled but also conscious of the ethical considerations and committed to the well-being of the communities they serve,”Baba said.
He stressed that the development of curricula required collective input, expertise, and dedication.
He urged the participants, resource persons and experts to engage in constructive discussions, share valuable insights, and work together to shape the future of environmental health education in Nigeria.
“With our collective efforts, we can ensure the health and well-being of both current and future generations, while safeguarding our precious environment,” Baba said.
Declaring the workshop open, the Executive Secretary (ES) of the NBTE, Prof Idris Bugaje, said it has been challenging to bring the health sector to the fore of technical occupation education and development.
Bugaje, represented by Engr. Abba Dawakinkudu, said the NBTE has held several activities with the nursing council and other health related councils, where it saw and believe that the health sector attribute to a greater part of the country’s GDP.
The ES, therefore said the sector needed to be standardised, regulated and ensure that it gives the expected value.
He stressed that, after food, which is also health, the nation needed to settle down and standardise the sector.
“Apart from individuals health, the health of the environment is also critical to ensure sustainability of the health of the country’s population which partly is a responsibility of the EHCON,” he said.
Speaking further, the ES stress that since inception of the NBTE, they had sustained collaborating with the right institutions and experts in ensuring that the standard they are setting are updated and of international best practice so as to sustain the nation’s educational and trade environment.
He therefore stressed that the curriculum, after it development, would enable lecturers have directions on what to teach and what not to, and test the competence of who they have trained.
He thanked the EHCON for collaborating with the board, stressing that the outcome of the curricula development would be beneficial specially to the third world nations and many part of the world in general.
Also, the Director Curriculum Development Department of NBTE, Dr Hatim Koko, commended the EHCON’s Registrar for conceiving the idea.
He urged the working groups and Resource Persons to commit themselves in order to come up with documents that would produce food safety and hygiene officials within the environmental health sector.
“Our targets is trying to offer a skills specific area of operation in terms of focus and competence that will stand the taste of time.
“Curricula activities are normally expected to last for five years before further reviews are incorporated or conceived for any normal changed that could arise,”he said.