Experts, scholars and investors have called for a comprehensive review and increased government commitment to higher education in the country 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 an 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.
Speaking at the occasion, Professor Uche Eze, Commissioner for Education, Enugu State, pointed out that corruption and examination malpractice have destroyed the standard of education in the country. According to him, parents now encourage and aid their children to be involved in examination malpractice. “If Nigeria must succeed, Nigerians must show more commitment in seeing that education is practiced as it should be”, he said.
A Cross section of participants
Panel of Discussants at the Event
Mr. Jika Attoth, the Moderator a the event
The Guest Speaker Prof. G. Ibe
Prof. C. Soludo, speaking at the event
The Executive Director of AfriHeritage Prof. U. Okeke-Uzodike
Professor Gregory I. Ibe is a great name in Nigeria particularly in the education sector. Currently, he constitutes the private sector spirit that is shaping science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Nigeria through his involvement in the supply of the state-of-the-art teaching/learning equipment with innovative pedagogy in the delivery of the subjects. He has implanted entrepreneurship as curricular innovation in education and particularly in Business, Engineering and Technical/Vocational Education.
Chairman, Board of Directors
Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, CFR is a Nigerian economics professor and a former Governor and chairman of the board of directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He was named Governor on 29 May 2004.He is also a member of the British Department for International Development's International Advisory Group. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors, African Heritage Institution.
Jika Attoh is one of the brightest broadcasters in the country today. He studies Cross Cultural Communication at University of Oxford. He was the former Managing Director at Enugu State Broadcasting Service Enugu, ESBS. Broadcasr Manager and Trainer at Lagoni Media and Member, Board of Directors at West Africa Democracy Radio. He was the moderator at the 22 March 2018 Edition of the Big Ideas Podium.
The Big Ideas Podium is a national platform for public policy debates on burning and salient issues that affect or shape development or governance in Nigeria, West Africa, and the African continent. It encourages the deployment of both intellectual and empirical insights as it scrutinizes societal and national problems with a view to developing shared understandings of, and proffer recommendations for policies or solutions to social, economic, governance and political challenges facing Nigeria and the African continent.
The March, 2018 edition of the Big Ideas Podium featured Professor Gregory Ibe, Chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu (GUU), whose presentation touched on various challenges facing higher education in Nigeria; and possible solutions to the challenges. The event pooled participants from various walks of life – the academia, the media, government functionaries, policy makers, tertiary school administrators, international development organizations, and students, etc.