By Ayo Ajayi
Bothered by the hydra-headed challenges facing the education sector in the country, the Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Ota, Professor Aderemi Atayero, has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the sector.
Atayero made the call in his office recently while responding to questions in an interview to mark the 15th Founder’s Day of the University. “The solutions to the socio-political and economic problems in Nigeria lie in quality and sustainable education. I boldly state that any investment in the education sector is an investment in the future of Nigeria.
“Government should, therefore, devise a developmental plan that will address and remedy the problem of access and quality within a specified period. There is the need for massive infrastructural development in this sector,” he declared.
Atayero noted that the importance of the education sector in our national development aspirations cannot be overstressed. The Nigerian budget for education, he said, is less than 10% while in Ghana it is approximately 30%. “Presently, Nigeria has both problems of access and quality. Ironically, Ghana makes about $1bn annually from educational tourists from Nigeria. You cannot get much from a venture that you have not invested in.
“At a time in Nigeria, our education system began to experience several challenges. The demand for university education is increasing without the commensurate increase in funding and infrastructure. Consequently, the quality of graduates from our universities has been called to question as some multinational companies give preference to graduates from foreign universities in their staff recruitment,” he argued.
According to the Vice-Chancellor, over 1.7 million candidates registered for the 2017 UTME and the carrying capacity of the existing universities is grossly inadequate to accommodate this army of prospective students.
“Government, in its wisdom allowed private universities to come in to expand access and improve quality. Since the emergence of private universities, the number of admitted students has increased, new programmes that are relevant to our development aspirations have been introduced, and quality has also improved due to the engagement of ICT in teaching and learning, robust curriculums, and established quality control mechanisms.
“However, Government has a lot to do in addressing the challenges facing the establishment of private universities, their efficient management, development, and growth. We should not forget that private universities came on board because of gaps and decay in the public institutions. Therefore, mitigating their challenges is synonymous to solving the problem of the entire sector,” he opined.
The solutions to the socio-political and economic problems in Nigeria, according to Atayero, lie in quality and sustainable education. “I boldly state that any investment in the education sector is an investment in the future of Nigeria. Quality and sustainable education have the potential to create employment, improve wellness, and create a well-informed or politically-informed citizenry. Therefore, I want to appeal that Government should declare a state of emergency in this sector and devise a developmental plan that will address and remedy the problem of access and quality within a specified period. There is the need for massive infrastructural development in this sector.”