Soludo, Varsity Chancellor Seek Improvement in Nigeria’s Education

The Big Ideas Podium (BIP), an African Heritage Institute’s public platform for policy debates was held last week, in Enugu, with a call on the government to adequately fund the educational sector and make the recruitment of teachers and appointment of vice-chancellors a merit-based exercise.Guest speaker at the event and chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State, Professor Gregory Ikechukwu Ibe, in a Keynote address titled “Higher Education in Nigeria: Developing Human Capital for Global Competitiveness,” noted that education is an essential prerequisite for the transformation of communities.

Ibe who faulted Nigeria’s educational system recalled that in 1998, Nigeria started a new educational policy – the 6-3-3-4 system – where students spend six years in primary school, three years in junior school, three years in senior secondary school and four years in tertiary institution. He observed that there were acute traces of unemployment and under-employments under this policy.

According to him, “the non-fusion of proper skills has made our educational results very pedestrian, and the youths in their innumerable numbers are better described as loiterers”.

He cited poor funding of education as one of the major factors that affect the Nigerian educational system, noting that “Stakeholders comprising the researchers, teachers and lecturers are left with no option than to manage the resources at their disposal for grooming the nation’s scholars or students”.

Lamenting the ratio of students to teachers in schools, Professor Ibe said it was “high enough to threaten and extinguish the existence of student-teacher relationships”. He stated that one way to correct this malaise is to create an atmosphere of course equality in our institutions.

“This way, students get the true reflection of the prospect of each course. With this, a better pattern of career choice making can be registered. This would cure the problems of course crowding since course diversity would translate to more opportunity-spacing in the society,” he said.

Ibe noted further that it was the responsibility of students, parents, stakeholders and educators to work to enthrone a profound human capital development to attain global competitveness.

In a remark, former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, emphasised the need for recruitment of qualified teachers, promotion of teachers  and appointment of vice-chancellors on merit. He said teaching is a vocation and not simply a job opportunity for anyone seeking employment. “Recruitment of teachers, their promotion and appointment of vice-chancellors must be based on merit for a better result in our institutions,” he said.

Prof. Okeke-Uzodike and Prof. Charles Soludo

Earlier in a welcome address, the executive director of Afriheritage, Professor Ufo  Okeke-Uzodike, said the event was conceived to imbue participants with understanding of higher education in Nigeria and options on improving quality and repositioning Nigerian graduates for improved productivity and global competitiveness.

He lamented the poor budgetary allocation to education by the  Nigerian government, saying, “currently, in 2018, the Buhari government’s budget allocation for education is  7.04 percent. This is the lowest percentage allocation in more than a decade. Although the United Nations recommends 26 percent, no Nigerian government has  ever come close to half of the recommendation.”

Professor Okeke-Uzodike explained that the “net effect is that the Nigerian  educational system is far weaker in 2018 than it was a few decades ago,” adding that the “Nigerian graduates are no longer employable because of years of indolence and corruption in our educational system”.

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