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NEEDED: A DEGREE COURSE IN PRINTING TECHNOLOGY Abdul-Rasheed Afolabi Afolabi teaches at the Department of Printing Technology, Yaba College of Technology, Yaba. He can reached through

Published in Printing News Magazine, Vol 21, No: 98. September/October 2012 ISSN: 1117-6105

opportunities of employment are available in certain aspects of the economy, these areas are considered not popular enough as career o p t i o n s fo r N i g e r i a n s , especially the young ones. Take printing as an example. The printing industry, like other sectors of the Nigerian economy, relies on skilled manpower to run profitably. So, the opportunities in the printing industry are endless if the thinking is stretched beyond commercial printing. Opportunities exist for graduates of printing technology in commercial printing companies, media industry, publishing houses, packaging industry, government establishments, security printing industry, training and vocational education sector, specialty/promotional product industry and allied Industry. Aside from working in paid employment, graduate printers can be entrepreneurs providing print communications solutions to individuals and organizations. Without exaggerating, Amongst other causes, the neglect of the opportunities are limited only by the vocational and technical education is creativity of print professionals! responsible for the nation's inability to curb unemployment, especially amongst However, since 1846 when the Hope higher institution graduates. Obviously, Waddel Press in Calabar was set up, Nigerians have ignored vocational and printing started as a craft-based technical education at their peril. While profession. Much like other technical


he pervading rage of unemployment in Nigeria as well as in other parts of the world is neither new nor surprising. What is however new and perplexing is the continual increase in the unemployment index in spite of concerted efforts to stem the tide. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the country's unemployment index stands at 34 per cent. Specifically, the bureau puts the figure of unemployed Nigerians in the first half of 2011 as 23.9 per cent, up from 21.1 per cent in 2010 and 19.7 per cent in 2009. Experts have warned that the figure for 2012 may not be any merrier given the recent spate of increased tension caused by the high level of insecurity that portends no good for the nation. Reports quote the StatisticianGeneral and Chief Executive Officer, NBS, Dr. Yemi Kale, as stating that the total number of unemployed Nigerians rose from more than 12 million in 2010 to more than 14 million in 2011.

and vocational aspects of education, printing education got relegated to the background in spite of its huge opportunity in empowering people to earn a good living and contribute to national development. At present, formal training in printing are only offered in technical colleges, vocational institutes and six polytechnics (Yaba C o l l e ge o f Te c h n o l o g y, Kad u n a Polytechnic, Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, Federal Polytechnic Oko, Kano State Polytechnic, Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic, Jigawa and Benue State Polytechnic) across Nigeria. No University, at present, offers a distinct course in printing technology. According to the National Policy on Education, the technical/vocational institutes and polytechnics are tasked with the provision of lower level and middle level manpower needs of the industry. This means there is a vacuum for the training of higher level manpower needs of the printing industry since no Nigerian University offers a course in printing technology. Print companies have had to


improvise by training university graduates in engineering, science, applied arts etc, to meet the needs of the printing industry. Without doubt, the mounting of a degree course in printing technology has therefore become a need. The recent developments in the print and graphic industry have made printing not strictly a craft any longer. The introduction of digital technologies, for instance, has brought about the inclusion of information and communication technology and engineering into the curriculum of printing education. Beside, graduates of printing now have strategic roles to play in advertising, publishing, packaging, public relations, etc. This informs the array of degree programs in printing in Universities at the global level. While some retain the title “Printing Technology” others adopt “Graphic Communication” and other names. A long list can be produced but suffice to mention Universities li ke Anna University and Manipal University (India), Ryerson University, Canada, California Polytechnic State University, California, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, Kean University (interestingly, Dr. Cyril Nwako, a Nigerian, is the co-ordinator of the institution's graphic communication masters program), RMIT University, Australia and the London College of Communication (under the University of Arts, London). A good reference point that reflects the paradigm shit in printing education is the wide range of media courses available at the London College of Communication which formerly existed as the London College of Printing. What informed this transformation? A simple answer: the push for diversity in printing education. From London College of Printing which focused solely on printing craft, processes and management, the present London College of Communication's program offerings and curriculum spans media and communication studies, graphic design, printing and publishing.


Printing, the mainstay of the College at inception became a part of the school of Printing and Publishing. The change, according to the former dean of the School, Sue Pandit, became necessary in order to teach printing as part of other courses like graphic design, publishing and marketing. As said earlier, printing education adorns the label of different names in different institutions across the globe. The appellation “Graphic communication” is however gaining more popularity because, aside from being the repackaged form of printing education, it is a better reflection of printing educators' attempt at blending the print media with digital media. Apparently, it is wiser to train students for a cross media world dominated by new media than to give them narrowly focused education centered on the conventional printing press. A printing course based on the graphic communication model solves another problem the image problem faced by p r i n t i n g i n d u s t r y fo r d e c a d es . Unfortunately, printing is perceived as a craft, lacking in creativity and dynamism. To a great extent, the shift to the graphic communication model is targeted at raising the profile of printing and projecting it as an integral part of the communication process. Graphic communication involves creating and reproducing visual messages. The International Graphic Arts Education Association (IGAEA) defines it as “...the processes and industries that create, develop, produce, and disseminate products, utilizing or incorporating words or pictorial images to convey information, ideas and feelings.” Graphic communication, the IGAEA says, include, “family of market segments embracing the technologies of printing, publishing, packaging, electronic imaging, and their allied industries.”

It also presents a platform to provide career opportunities to young people who would have given training in printing a wide berth if restricted to technical college certificate and polytechnic diploma levels. In other parts of the world, the status of the printing industry has been raised by the concerted efforts of print and graphic arts foundations, the academic community, graphic arts equipment and materials providers and other stakeholders in the industry. The onus therefore falls on the stakeholders in the Nigerian printing industry to rise to the occasion. Particularly, the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON) has a pivotal role to play. As outlined in the CIPPON Act No 24, 2007, part of the statutory function of the Institute is to “promote education in the science and arts of printing, bookbinding, graphic design and graphic communication (in all forms) and to encourage students to pursue their studies and practical training to the highest standard attainable”.

A degree course in printing is an imperative - the Nigerian printing industry requires a higher level of education (much higher than what a higher Diploma can offer) that is suited for printing executives of the future. Given the wholesome taking over of the media market by the new media, an uncertain future awaits print. Only a renewed approach to education and training in the printing industry can help save investments, not only in Nigeria, but across the world. Thus, the industry urgently needs learned and visionary print professionals who have an overview of the entire print production process as well as relevant management and information technology knowledge and skills. Such professionals can only be produced by a course that teaches printing technology in a mix of allied areas like graphic design, digital publishing, packaging and marketing. That is precisely what a graphic Putting in place a degree-based program communication program offers. in printing with a graphic communication focus brings more benefits beyond the ones that accrue to the printing industry.

Needed: a degree course in printing technology  

This short exposition makes a case for a degree course in Printing Technology in Nigeria. In spite of a need for it, such a program is not...

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