ASUU, Vice Chancellors, Teachers assess state of education: Here’s their verdict
Education stakeholders in the country have expressed mixed feelings on the development in the sector, 58 years after it gained independence.
They spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Monday.
The National President, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr Michael Alogba-Olukoya, told NAN that the country, in the sector, had been `moving in a circle.’
He said that government at all levels had not done enough to ensure that the sector took its rightful place in the scheme of things.
According to him, lack of development of the sector is taking its toll on the country’s youth in terms of high unemployment rate.
Alogba-Olukoya noted that for a turnaround in the system, there must be sincere commitments from the country’s leaders. He called for an overhaul of the country’s curriculum, to tally with the demands of the 21st century. The Union leader noted that what obtained in the sector in the 1960s was completely different from what was obtainable in the present age.
“Our politicians have not shown the commitment to build this sector, and that is why it will be good if they could come together to redefine it for us to be able to achieve the much needed national transformation and development.
“What we should all have at the back of our mind is that there is a huge difference between funding and investment in education.
“It is not enough to build schools all over the place when the people to work there are not happy, as well as no matching infrastructure to drive such structures.
“It will yield no results, as it is like a motion without movement.
“I think it is time for us to come together for an education summit if truly want to take this country to its desired height.
“If not, all what we profess to be doing in the sector is merely moving in a circle.
“We should also show some concern in what I call budget tracking.
“This is important if we truly wish to re-position the sector, because it is not enough for anybody to wake up and declare billions of naira into the sector with no one paying attention on its implementation,’’ the unionist said.
He urged the National Assembly to be more proactive in passing laws that are education-friendly, while ensuring that there is huge investment in the sector that would eventually drive all other sectors of the country’s economy.
Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, the 2nd Deputy National President, National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), noted that education in the country had not enjoyed its pride of place, especially in the area of funding.
Ogunbanjo told NAN that only one state in the country had set aside over 20 per cent of its budget for the development of education.
He said the 10 per cent, or even less, that was being set aside for the same purpose by the other states across the country was worrisome.
“As we all know, education is the only worthy legacy that any nation can bequeath to its future generation, just as it is the bedrock of any development.
“But I am afraid that as far as its development in this country is concerned, we are not there yet.
“So we must all come together as a people, do all what it takes to make sure education takes a centre stage in the scheme of affairs in this country, if indeed our quest for national development and transformation is to be realised.
“The Federal and the state governments must also lead the way in doing the needful in this regard, just as they should also ensure that there is a boost in research grants, especially for our tertiary institutions.
“Lack of these grants are equally taking their toll on not just the institutions, but its products and the country’s economy in general,” he said.
Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos (Unilag), is of the view that the sector is not completely a write-off as being portrayed by some sections of the society.
He, however, agrees that there is need for an urgent education summit.
According to him, the level of education in the country can still be seen as work in progress.
He said that a lot of positive achievements were still being recorded despite its challenges.
“I do not want to think that there is nothing good about our system, despite what we are going through.
“Yes, we cannot say that it is Uhuru but it can only get better.
“Today, if you look at the various academic activities going on in the system especially at the tertiary level, you will have cause to say there is hope, though slowly, but surely.
“For instance, just recently, the Bank of America visited our university and disclosed to me that students of Unilag that were engaged for internship were competing favourably with their counterparts from Harvard, Stanford and Cambridge.
“I see this as a boost to our morals at the same time a plus to not just the university alone but also the country at large and it goes to tell you that the standard of education in the country is work in progress and we shall get there.
“This is because products from this system of ours could not have been able to achieve this feat if the sector was a complete write off.
“But having said this, I think there is room for improvement in ensuring that the sector takes its rightful place,’’ Ogundipe said.
He noted that the country was progressing as a people and that the citizenry should see it as such.
According to him, there is no perfect system in the world, adding that even in the developed world, the standard of education could not be seen as being what it should be, given the constant change of trend.
“Having said this though, I feel governments must be alive to their responsibilities especially in the area of research.
“I tell people one thing; tell me of a country that is doing well in the world and I will tell you of a country that is funding research.
“We must equally pay attention to our education too, especially at the foundation level if we indeed want to discover our potentials as a people,’’ he said.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), told NAN that the country’s ruling class has not fully appreciated the relationship between provision of education as a public good and the developmental aspirations of the country.
According to him, many of the state governors are quick to profess that education is topmost in the list of their priorities without matching commitments to show for it.
The ASUU boss warned that for as long as the country’s ruling class continues to play politics with education, the country’s aspiration to drive her development through education would remain a mirage.