Refocusing Tertiary Education For A Knowledge Economy Manasseh F. Paul-Worika
The importance of education to a nation cannot be over emphasized. In most parts of the world, education is regarded as a fundamental human right.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. Educate a man, and you will be taking a criminal off the street. Education remains a great tool for recreating a man’s mind to think critically and rationally and to make right decisions.
The level, quality and standard of education in Nigeria has witnessed a geometric drop in the past two decades and this unfortunate trend has made Nigerian students migrate to other parts of the world in search of quality education. It is saddening that institutions in neighboring African Countries are now preferred to institutions in Nigeria.
This fall in standard has been attributed to a number of factors which if necessary steps are not taken to address, can further affect Nigeria’s development and growth negatively.
Of particular concern are the poor funding of public institutions, failure to accommodate the rising population demands, low University admission capacity, academic fraud, corruption and indiscipline and the politicization of education. There is also the problem of lack of continuous training for teachers.
Due to the long existing level of corruption, tertiary education in Nigeria has always suffered inappropriate funding which has led to poor infrastructure, absence of good teaching aides and non-payment of allowances.
Also, a sharp decline in crude oil process which is the major source of government revenue plummeted the country into a recession which led to severe cuts in government spending and further worsening the poor funding situation of Nigeria’s tertiary education system.
This has led to strike actions, most recent of which is the face-off between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government. This has thrown the Nigerian University system into another round of crises; as academic activities have been put on hold pending when the lingering issue between Asuu and the Federal Government is amicably resolved.
According to the statistics released by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) on its website, in 2017, only 415,500 out of 1,428, 379 applicants were admitted to the University.
The admission crises is one of Nigeria’s biggest challenges in higher education, due to the teeming youth population.
Nigeria’s tertiary education presently leaves over one million qualified university admission applicants without access to university education on an annual basis. This tends to slow down economic growth as only a few educated professionals are available in the country.
In Nigeria, there have been numerous reports of corruption and indiscipline in the country’s tertiary educational system. Cases of cultism in schools have been on the rise as well as giving bribe to pass exams; popularly called “Sorting”.
Other forms of academic misconducts that have plagued the Nigerian tertiary education system ranges from examination malpractices, to more serious inglorious acts such as impersonation, falsifying academic records, paying for graded or certificate with gifts, money or sexual favours, etc.
Politicization of education is another problem of tertiary education in Nigeria. In some institutions, tribal and political affiliations influence admission and employment processes. This is not a good precedence as it denies those who are duly qualified, employment opportunities or opportunity to study.
The biggest problem of Nigeria’s tertiary education system remains lack of funding, inadequate and in proper budgetary allocation. To solve this problem, government should provide adequate funds for quality training facilities, for renovating schools and also getting adequate infrastructure to ensure there is a conducive environment for teaching and learning.
Furthermore, funds should be maintained and properly monitored to avoid mismanagement and embezzlement.
Governments at all levels need to be committed to delivering a competitive and high quality standard of education across the country, while Examination regulatory bodies in higher institutions need to work more to curb examination malpractices.
Measures need also to be taken to address the issue of cultism in tertiary institutions. Proper orientation and re-orientation on the dangers of cultism should be the main focus of authorities of tertiary institutions.
Lecturers at tertiary institution must be given periodical trainings to ensure they are up to date with global trends and also give quality knowledge to students.
Students should be admitted on merit; staff should also be appointed on merit and not based on tribal and political affiliations.
Addressing the issues confronting Nigeria’s tertiary education system would put Nigeria back on track as we move towards building a knowledge-based society.