The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, University of Lagos Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), has called for the reformation of the education sector. This, he said, would improve all
sectors of the economy.
Speaking at a retreat organised by the Osun State University in Ede, Osun State, Babalakin said: “Nigeria is at a crossroad and I believe very strongly that the emancipation of our great country will be led by the reformation of the education sector. Once we get the education system on the proper footing, it will propel the other sectors of the nation and begin an unstoppable forward movement”.
He added: “It is very unfortunate that a country with a population of about 150 million persons and the largest country in the whole of Africa have no tertiary institution that has any favourable rating in the world.
Various rating agencies have placed the most outstanding Nigerian university at No. 800 or below in world ranking. It is acutely hurtful that even in African; no Nigerian university is rated amongst the top 20. More saddening is that once upon a time, Nigeria had universities that were highly rated in the world. I recall watching a television programme some time ago where Pro. Olu Akinkugbe, an outstanding academic and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin and Ahmadu Bello University, stated that at a point in time, the University College Hospital, Ibadan, was rated as the fourth amongst medical institutions in the Commonwealth. The significance of this is more appreciated when we realize that Commonwealth countries included: the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India, Pakistan and Malaysia. And so ladies and gentlemen, what happened?”
Highlighting the issues affecting the education sector, Babalakin stressed that: “The first is how dowe fund the tertiary education system? A plethora of universities have sprung up in recent times”.
He added: “The Federal Government has created a number of universities. Almost all the states in Nigeria have their own universities. Many private concerns have also established universities. In setting up these universities, I hope that these various bodies have a fair idea of the cost of running them. According to the Academic Staff Union of Universities quoting a National Universities Council source, the average cost of achieving full accreditation for universities’ programmes in Nigeria is $3,000 that is today above N1 million. In effect, a university with a population of, for example, 5000 students should have N1m x 5000, that is N5 billion as its resource base for running the university. Based on this calculation, it is certain that most of the universities in Nigeria are not well funded. More disturbing is the fact that it is very doubtful if the proprietors of these universities have the capacity to fund them even if they were willing to do so. We have to, as a matter of urgency, stop creating institutions that we do not have the ability to provide for.
“Universities must be funded from public and private sources. Government alone cannot fund all the expenses of creating a first rate university. Universities cannot depend entirely on the resources of the Federal and state governments. All stakeholders in the education sector must harness their intellectual and other resources to create sufficient funding for tertiary education.
“In order to make a university achieve the standards we seek, greater vitality must be introduced into the management of the university. Within the Nigerian laws today, majority of council members in the university are internal members that are members chosen from within the academic personnel of the University. This act of grace from the Federal Government and some other proprietors of universities must be complemented by a high degree of discipline and responsibility from the internal council members. The university administration, as a citadel of learning, must reflect truthfulness, scholarship and fairness in all its dealings. It cannot be a place where there are divisions based on ethnicity or governed by cartels.
“In order to propel the universities properly, we have to set key performance indicators that are consistent with international best practices that must be aspired to by all universities. It will amongst other things assess the contribution of the University to the larger society. It will rate the universities using the appropriate criteria which include student/staff ratio. Funding capacity of the university, its ability to attract research grants and the contributions of its members at large. When all these are introduced into our university system, then we would have begun the process of transforming our tertiary education system in Nigeria.”
UNIOSUN’s Pro-Chancellor, Malam Yusuf Alli, said any serious university must be ICT-driven because the current demand of the global community in imparting knowledge has moved greatly into the realm of information technology.