Federal Republic of Nigeria Minister of Education Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai. The ministry has attempted to quell an education dispute with higher education academic staff., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Possible solutions to our failed higher institutions
Monday, 08 October 2012 00:00 Oluwayemisi Joseph You Report - YOU REPORT NIGERIA
THE National Universities Commission Executive Secretary, Professor Julius Okojie recently noted that sixty per cent or more of our lecturers are without P.H.D degrees. What right to good quality of education does this give us the future leaders of this great country? In what ways does this prepare us for the unknown, unpredictable future? I think it is time we start asking ourselves this questions.
The earlier we as one people realise that we can’t heal what we refuse to confront, the earlier we begin on our own journey to the rehabilitation of this once flourishing and bright education sector. It hurts to find that our educational institutions especially our colleges and universities are behind international standards in technology, research, development amongst many other things that have crippled the system.
A country without quality education is synonymous to a system without a driving force, I mean a dead system. Education is a light that sheds the path to an unpredictable future, a future that will consider our methods of the present as primitive, just exactly the way we consider the past. It should not be compromised or short-changed for excessive looting of the country’s resources, or the excessive payment of government officials.
Is there a solution to this delicate problem that might be putting the future of this country at a great risk? Personally, ‘yes’ is the answer to this sensitive question. But as one people, one nation, the decision completely depends on us. The moment we say ‘yes’ then we just unwrapped our determination to make things work for this precious sector of ours. We will also be showing the zeal in laying a solid foundation in education for generations yet unborn. When we as a people decide to confront the sector’s problems and ills, then we can be rest assured that we are starting to clean up the mess that has been piled and stacked over the decades.
Let us assume we all as one people end up saying yes. How do we go about this transformation of the educational sector especially that of the higher institutions? What policies and structures are we to put in place to make this intended transformation a stunning reality? Why don’t we take a journey into history and try to figure out what brought upon us this predicament and then proffer solutions to each of them.
Political instability will be the first thing that comes to mind. Ever since the year of Independence till the end of the military era in 1999, we have experienced gross political instability. The ever recurring military succession and coups have contributed as a major factor that has affected our educational systems negatively. Even in this present Nigeria where we practise democracy instabilities in our leadership. We do not have long term Ministers of Education; they spend just a short period of time performing their duties before they are being replaced by another. Usually, one comes on board and just decides to change everything according his or her taste without considering the changes and policies that the previous Minister had kept in place and it goes on and on. To solve the problem of leadership instability is to prevent the future Ministers of Education and all other people from changing policies and structures that have been kept in place without necessary or important reason.
Another point that comes to mind is the inadequate fund provided to the higher institutions. And even the funds provided by the government are not channelled properly due to corruption and excessive looting at every level. My solution to this problem might sound absurd, but if properly considered is worth a shot. Students in higher education institution should be billed heavily, in this way the public institutions will be able to run their institutions without waiting for grants and funds from the government. The only way in which the government comes in, is by giving financial aid and scholarships to students who are in need or exceptionally gifted either in extracurricular activities or academics. In this way, the school will have sufficient money to run the school and technologically develop themselves by being able to afford modern research equipments and machinery. The institutions will also be able to send their lecturers to gather more experiences and the modern way of doing things from world renowned universities. In this way many things will fall in place. After the students who borrowed one financial aid or the other graduate and get jobs, they then start paying back to the government with very little interest rate depending on their jobs. With this method the quality of education will greatly increase.
Let us ponder on the benefits of the method described above:
1) A significant increase in the quality of education is quickly felt and seen by everybody.
2) These prevent Nigerian parents from wasting millions of dollars every year in sending their children and wards to school outside this great nation Nigeria. This is implying that this money will now be spent in the country instead of outside.
3) The higher institutions will now be able to expand and increase their maximum intake of students every year. This will in turn reduce the pressure on students every year during the JAMB exams and also reduce the cut-off points entering various universities in the country.
4) Talented and well gifted professors who are gurus in their various fields and are Nigerians who also lecture abroad will be attracted to their country.
5) The educational institutions will attract foreign students who will definitely pay more. In this way the university generates more money for further development.
6) The alumni who turn out to be very important people in the world will then end up given back to the schools and increasing their reputations.
I think as one people we should ponder about this, because the situation of our world depends on us. We are the determinants of our own world, we should always remember that.