EDITORIAL: UI @ 70 — INJECTING REVITALISATION INTO NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES

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There is of course an endless thesis to be written on the irresponsibility of the public office holders towards making the nation’s life comfortable for all. The various strike actions here and there only point to where we have failed individually as well as collectively. It is obvious, as it has to do with education, that we have failed one another; government, teachers, and students.

For one, the interest of the government in ensuring higher institutions enjoy adequate funding has dissipated. To sedately think about the present situation in relation to the amount annually appropriated for the sector only reminds us that what we sow we shall reap. Evidently, we are reaping the fruits of unemployable graduates who, for insufficient funds to establish practical laboratories in their departments, only have their first class CGPA to show the world.

Meanwhile, we cannot forget to call out the misappropriation of the funds by the university administrators. What have they, so far, done with the funds received from the government? Although reports intimate, it is still difficult to say who is culpable especially as taming the carrion of our corruption is still by definition staged at the doorsteps of politicians.

Also, at the zenith of this abysmal is the assumed abuse of power and position. The gown which is supposed to champion freedom for all has only done its best to silence the curious ones among their students who, dare ask questions. It is indeed alarmingly that many fountain of knowledge do not want their students to ask or seek knowledge beyond that which they are fed with.
Comparatively, we cannot exonerate some lecturers of blame. The only thing which shields the weak pitch of their intellectualism is the title of professorship. Is any, who comes to class with 18th or 19th century knowledge, worthy in character and learning to be called so? Some of their actions in classrooms is no good piece of news for the future leaders they are being paid to build.

To make matters worse, most of the students do not understand what education means. The drive of many towards becoming a better graduate and not the never-asking-never-knowing student that the system produces is unfortunately dormant. There should be more to being a graduate than being employed. Let us not count the derivative ones who follow the pattern of acquiring skills like tailoring, hairdressing, catering, and so on because there is allegedly no job out there. What we are talking about, dear readers, is the 21st century graduate who is able to contribute to taking Nigeria out of its many quagmires. This is not to say that these trades are not useful but where do we go if we all follow that pattern.

While it cannot be rebutted that education, whether formal or informal, can help in overcoming the challenges and demands of sustainable development, the statistics of graduates yearly shames our status as the giant of Africa. Many a graduate that cannot write an application letter; who cannot perform elementary computer operations but happily blames the system. The unsolicited feedback from the employers of labour concerning some of these graduates reveals that we are far from Calvary. Should the country be on its way to revitalization, what can such offer?
Parents cannot be acquitted of blame for the worsening educational ague. Many are they who only care about results and not the process. Such parents go extremes to have their unprepared students pass examinations as well as gain admission. Also, in this category are those who turn cold as soon as their wards return home without first class results; the one who partake in molding students into ignorant literates.

As a result, to save the system, everyone must come to the table for orientation and re-orientation. First, it must start with an attitudinal change; for everyone, the students especially, must have their expectations redefined. It must be emphasized that being a university graduate, in the face of our current challenges as a country, is not an automatic passport to getting employed. Students themselves need to set the right priorities. Getting the government to do it all is but a mirage; students themselves should seek practical knowledge where the system has failed to. Rather than the worthless use of precious time on the social media; the youths need to redirect their technology-driven mindset and avail themselves of the opportunities of globalization. Beyond what the classroom offers, everyone must seek self-development.
Commendable as the feats are in raising the bar in some federal universities like the University of Ibadan, higher institutions still have a long way to go. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) should not only be jealous for the better condition of service for its members but also effective and efficient internal university administration.

To revitalize the Nigerian institutions, the crop of professors we have cannot afford to keep asking money alone. The very foundational problem of education which seems to emanate from the home and as early as nursery schools must be addressed. As a result, collaborating with associations like Parents/Teachers’ Association (PTA) and other unions like National Union of Teachers (NUT) is required.
Also, the government must align itself with effective developmental goals for education. Education is a pivotal tool needed to encounter sustainable growth and development. Adequate funds must be poured into the educational system; the government should not await the event of another strike before realizing that the system is but a walking dead. Are the various certificate scandals that has so far rocked the Buhari-led administration not enough failure indicator for the education system?

Pub 7/ 29 October, 2018.

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