Postgraduate Training for Printing Teachers in Nigeria: What is Relevant?

A Contending Issue
The printing industry is one of the major employers of labour the world over. The opportunities that abound in this industry promise a rewarding career for entrants into the field. Since training and education is critical to developing human capacity, entrants into the printing industry are trained through both the formal education and the informal apprenticeship systems. Training through the formal education system takes place through programmes in technical institutes, colleges and universities. It is understandable therefore that technical competence, skills, knowledge and general expertise of teachers in these formal training institutions are critical factors in developing a skilled and capable workforce for the printing industry. Printing teachers are therefore expected to keep up with new techniques, processes and trends. In terms of formal qualifications, printing teachers in colleges and universities are required to have masters' degrees and in certain cases doctorate degrees.

Printing teachers in Nigerian higher education sector, in line with global standards, have earned masters degrees (or in the process of doing so) in printing and related fields. However, the issue of the relevance of some of these qualifications has remained a contending issue. For example, the relevance of a master in communication studies has been an issue that has come to the fore. “Relevance” in this debate is taken to be a master's program strictly in printing craft technology. This article takes a stance on this debate by arguing that the field of printing - especially in a multi-media age – is multi-disciplinary and in dire need of diversity. The article concludes that masters and doctoral degrees in related fields to printing will not only open up the field, but will also extend the frontiers of printing and the print media.

What Really are the Issues?
The issues involved in this debate are of varying dimensions. But at the core is the shift of printing from a craft-oriented field into a high-tech, automated manufacturing industry. In the words of Naik Dharavath, a printing industry expert, “…over the past two decades, the printing (or graphic arts) industry has undergone a revolution. Technologies, graphic workflow, management strategy, print market segments and customer expectations have changed”.

The emergence and impact of digital technologies have further played a crucial role in transforming the printing industry from a manufacturing industry to a service industry. These developments, when combined, have enormous bearings on the type and quality of training required in developing workforce for the printing industry. Without doubt, the competence of printing educators is a vital factor in this equation. In a new world of printing where greater competence and expertise is required to control and manage technologies as well as meet the needs of clients, printing teachers would do with postgraduate training not just in craft-based printing technology but in allied areas to printing.

Come to think of it, where in the world is such craft-based printing technology postgraduate program still offered? A thorough search turns no result (The only results – masters of technology and PhDs in printing technology in some Indian Universities – are actually, based on their course contents, printing engineering). And this is not surprising. In line with the challenges of the modern printing industry, postgraduate programmes have emerged in such areas like print and packaging technology, technology management, print and media technology, creative technology, printing education, printing engineering, visual communication, industrial design, media and communication, publishing, publications management, graphics and imaging science, print media, professional design practice, printing and graphic communication, industrial technology, printed electronics and functional imaging, etc. These programs offer skills and knowledge that take the printing industry from a rudimentary technology level to new heights by building on the foundations of traditional printing processes and techniques.

It must also be mentioned that one of the aims of postgraduate education is producing people who are thinkers. Postgraduate training generally helps students develop transferable skills like reading, listening, watching, choosing, questioning, summarizing, organizing, writing, presenting and reflecting. Whatever the field of postgraduate studies, these are skills that are conferred on students who successfully complete their programmes. Therefore, irrespective of the name or type of postgraduate training undertaken by printing teachers, they leave with basic skills that empower them for research and development in their field. A broad-based postgraduate training is sure to empower them to output original contributions to knowledge in the field of printing, graphic arts and media technology.

What is the Global Pattern of Printing Teachers' Qualifications?

At this juncture, it is pertinent to take a look at the qualifications of printing teachers in selected institutions across the world. Data collected through an online search is presented below:

Printing and Graphic Arts Schools in Europe and Russia

Name Designation Qualification Specialization
Malcolm Keif Professor at Cal Poly State University, California Ph.D. (Vocational/Technical Education), M.A. (Industrial Arts -Printing), B.A, Graphic Communication) Printed electronics and functional imaging
Lorraine Donegan Professor at Cal Poly University, California M.S. (Graphic Communication and education) Digital typography, web design and production
Ken Macro Prof. and Chair at Graphic Communication Department, Cal Poly State University, California Ph.D. (Education-knowledge management), M.A. (English – Composition), B.A (General Arts and Sciences) Printing production management, knowledge management
Haji Naik Dharavath Professor at Graphic Technology Department, Central Connecticut State University, New England Ph.D. (Applied Science and Technology), M.Tech (Graphic Communications), B.S (Graphic Communication) Electronic publishing, graphic communication, postpress/Distribution operations
Liam O'Hara Associate professor, Department of Graphic Communication, Clemson University, South Carolina Ed.D. (Career and Technical Education) Masters (Graphic Communication) Press characterization, print metrics, colour management
Natalia Lumby Associate professor, School of Graphic Communications, Ryerson University, Toronto MMsc (Management of Technology and Innovation), BTech (Graphic Communications) Layout, premedia and management, print and digital media, digital packaging
Reem El- Asaleh Assistant Professor, School of Graphic Communications, Ryerson University, Toronto Ph.D.(Paper and Imaging Science and Engineering), M.S .(Paper and Imaging Science and Engineering), B.S. (Computer Science) Premedia, digital asset management, colour image processing, colour management
Diana Brown Instructor, School of Graphic Communications, Ryerson University, Toronto M. A. (Communications and Technology), B.Tech (Graphic Communication), B.Tech (Print management and marketing) Traditional and digital publishing, typography, packaging communications

Printing and Graphic Arts Schools in Europe and Russia

Name Designation Qualification Specialization
Helmut Kipphan Professor, visiting fellow at Moscow State university of Printing Arts, Russia Ph.D. (Measurement and identification processes), Bachelors degree (mechanical engineering) Printing engineering
Nils Enlund Professor of Graphic arts, Department of Media technology and graphic arts Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden Licentiate of Technology, (doctorate degree in information processing science) M.Sc. (Electronics), B.Sc. (Electrical engineering) Information processing science, electronic publishing, digital printing
Reinhard R. Baumann Professor of digital printing and imaging technology, Institute for Print and Media Technology, Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany Doctorate (Dr.rer.nat in Chemical Physics), Diploma in Physics Printed functionalities, digital manufacturing methods, pre-press, colour metrics

Printing and Graphic Arts Schools in Asia and Middle East

Name Designation Qualification Specialization
Muhammad Yusuf Masod Lecturer, Department of Printing Technology, Universiti Technologi, Malaysia M.A (Visual communication and New media) Diploma and B.A (Printing Technology) Print media technology, Colour technology and standardization
Siti Farhana Zakaria Senior lecturer, Department of Printing Technology, Universiti Technologi, Malaysia Ph.D. (Textile Technology), M.A.(Digital Imaging), B.A (Printing Technology) Material degradation, colour management and standardization
K. Senthil Vadivu Associate Professor, Department of Printing Technology, Anna University, Chennai, India Ph.D. (Printing Engineering Technology) M.E (Computer Science and Engineering), B.E (Printing Technology Printing Processes, Print Finishing & Cost Estimation
J. Sandeep Assistant professor, Department of Printing Technology, Anna University, Chennai, India M.Tech (Printing and packaging)

B.E. (Mechanical engineering)
Efe Gencoglu Professor and Head of Printing Technology Department, Marmara University, Turkey PhD. (Printing Education), Msc.(Printing Education), BSc. (Printing Education) Printing education
Rajendra Anayath Visiting Professor, Department of Printing Technology, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, India Ph.D., M.Tech (Total quality management and Printing Engineering) Total quality management, Printing Engineering

Printing and Graphic Arts Schools in Africa

Name Designation Qualification Specialization
Abd El Kader Magdy Lecturer, Department of printing, publishing and packaging, Faculty of Applied Arts, Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt Dr-Ing (Doctor engineer in mechanical engineering), M.Sc. (Printing technology), B.Sc. (Applied Arts) Digital printing technology, metrology for printing processes, Quality control
Mohammed El-Sayed El-Kafrawey Lecturer, Department of printing, publishing and packaging, Faculty of Applied Arts, Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt Ph.D. (Design Media Publishing), M.A (printing and electronic media publishing), B.Sc. (printing, publishing and packaging) Visual communication, electronic publishing,
Adel M. Khodeir Associate professor, Department of printing, publishing and packaging, Faculty of Applied Arts, Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt Ph.D (Colour science) Colour science

First, the above data shows the wide range of appellations of printing and graphic arts programs in different institutions across the world. This is a reflection of the current paradigms in the new printing industry. Another discernable pattern is the diverse educational background of teachers on these programmes. Diversity is a recipe for growth in any discipline. Without research there can be neither growth nor development; the more diverse the backgrounds of researchers in a field, the higher the chances of growth. People who have similar backgrounds (education, ethnic, social values, upbringing, etc) are likely to think more alike and that may not be best for growth. People with different backgrounds and views have better chances of success as more stretching of thoughts and ideas gives better value. Certainly, the pattern of printing teachers' qualifications shown above reveals that growth and development in the field of printing and media technology stand a better chance when printing teachers undertake postgraduate training in varied but related research areas. Printing is now multi-disciplinary, encompassing management, engineering, graphic arts, imaging science, Media and communication, material science, information science, packaging, training and education, and information and communication technology. Like all fields that evolve, the field of printing and media technology is always open to new possibilities.

So, What is Relevant? What is not?
Back to the issue of relevance in postgraduate training in Nigeria's printing education system. This article takes the position that the relevance of a postgraduate programme should be objectively decided based on its' prospects to advance the field of print and media technology. Taking a master's in communication studies as a reference point, the vital question to ask is; “How can a master's in media and communication advance printing training and education?”

To reiterate, the printing industry has witnessed a lot of paradigm shifts. Beyond digital media production systems that have been seamlessly integrated into print production workflows, printers now have new vistas of opportunities coming their ways. There is a growing need to move printing as we have always known it in the past to a communications service industry. One of the realities printers have to face is that in a multi-media world where media channels have proliferated, clients no longer have printing problems; they now have communications problem. According to Tawnya Starr, a media specialist, “…From a marketing perspective, printed materials are not the solution but merely a means to the solution. Communication methods, as we have heard so many times have expanded beyond print. A well-rounded marketing strategy involves print and much more.”

Therefore, new age printers have to learn much more than how to produce printed products; they must also learn how to use print in concert with digital media to solve their clients' communication problems. It needs mentioning that transiting into communications service providers is a business strategy that offers printers two benefits; 1) broaden their portfolio of offering to their clients, 2) generate new streams of income.

In practical terms, becoming communication service providers would require printers to expand their scope of competencies to provide services in market research, copywriting, graphic design, campaign planning and execution, media planning and media management. As the popular saying goes, “what you don't have, you cannot give”. Printers cannot be communications service providers if they are not trained along this line and printing teachers have a vital role to play in this regard. Therefore, if a printing teacher decides to pick up a master's or Ph.D. in media and communication, the relevance of this to advancing knowledge and promoting professionalism in the printing industry should not be in doubt.

Opening Up to Growth
Training printing educators and researchers in diverse but related areas promotes interdisciplinary research which is key to developing and advancing the printing industry in a new media age. We need to cross boundaries to spur new forms of thinking that positions printing and media technology for growth and sustainable development. We must allow for diversity. We must be open to change.

Afolabi teaches digital printing and publishing at the Department of Printing Technology, Yaba College of Technology. He can be reached through [email protected]

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Articles by Abdul-Rasheed Afolabi