Experts, scholars and investors have called for a comprehensive review of the various policies being operated in the education sector in order to improve on the standards and quality of products churned out from the nation’s educational institutions, especially institutions of higher learning. This was one of the highlights of the March 22, 2018 edition of the Big Ideas Podium which held in Enugu on Thursday, with the theme – Higher Education in Nigeria: Developing Human Capital for Global Competitiveness
In his keynote speech, the chancellor/visitor of Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State, Professor Gregory Ibe who was the guest speaker at the event affirmed that indeed the quality of higher education’ has a direct link to human capital development. He observed that the non-fusion of proper skills has made our educational results very pedestrian, and the youths in their innumerable numbers are better described as loiters.
He said though the deregulation of higher education in Nigeria which is aimed at producing technically–sufficient personnel, going by the number of Polytechnics in the private and states controls; he wondered what is the national budgetary and financial support into our general educational systems – to the states and private hands, in terms of subventions?
According to him, the issue of funding is one that the government has not lived up to expectation.
“The stakeholders, that are the researchers, teachers, lecturers, are left with no option than to manage the resources at their disposal for grooming the nation’s scholars or students. The acceptable norms for giving the best to our students is at best questionable. The quality of our students rests on the aphorism; what we garbage in, is what we garbage out” he said.
Where are the research grants? Where are the educational endowment funds? Which universities are receiving them? These are questions Professor Ibe believes demand urgent and honest answers in order to make higher education in Nigeria comparable to elsewhere. He opines that the bad face of Nigeria’s educational system, for human reformation should not be glossed over but thoroughly treated. Not treatment as regards the bombardment of students with theories and laws, but the use of essential elements of education to concentrate the quality of education. Then, education can truly manifest in the country.
Earlier in his welcome address, Professor Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, Executive Director of African heritage Institution, posits that in today’s world, no country can ignore education if it desires prosperity and peace. A country must either educate its people or purchase the services of educated people from elsewhere. He said the poor value system, ethics, and standards in our society today cannot be divulged from the declining educational standards in which the country has found itself in.
“A vital commodity in every society, education is the process through which people access cultural, intellectual and economic values that are the bases for the creation and development of knowledge, skills, or career tracks. It is education that embeds attitudes, beliefs and ideas through which the value system of every human being is developed and shaped as cultures (whether ethnic, religious or pop cultures). In that way, education is a fundamental feature of the human experience and existence” he asserts.
Professor Okeke-Uzodike lamented a situation whereby rather than strive to implement the United Nation’s recommended 26% baseline budgetary allocation for education, successive governments in Nigeria has always relegated education to the background with as less as 7.04% presently contained in the 2018 appropriation. According to him, this definitely cannot get the education sector to anywhere.
In his contribution, former central bank governor, professor Charles Soludo declined a system whereby higher education in Nigeria is being seen as an indigenous affair in terms of appointment, promotion, establishment, etc instead of a citadels universal standard.