Cursory: The VC of UNIBEN has pointed out that the tertiary Institutions in Nigeria need a very thorough revamping, listing a lot of things that needed changes from the staff, to students, infrastructures and the system. In her speech, she pointed out the short comings of the budgetary allocation to the country’s tertiary institutions, pointing out the stark difference with other neighbouring countries. She also urged ASUU to rethink it’s methods and urged the union to adapt modern and progressive methods to make the institutions better. Also in her speech she urged universities to accept their own students and stop causing unecessary troubles for the institutions forced to accept them.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Lilian Salami, stated the need for a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s tertiary education in a keynote address she gave at the inaugural Tertiary Education Summit the next day, with the title “Fresh Ideas for Overhauling Nigeria’s Tertiary Education Complex.”The Chair of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Universities of Nigeria listed the following issues as challenges to tertiary education in Nigeria: outdated curricula, poor staff quality, corruption, a decline in student reading culture, government agencies acting outside their purview and confusion, quota system, internal politics within institutions, and low student quality.
Professor Salami further argued that since the Federal Government could no longer support higher education, parents must now foot the bill for their children’s education.
She said, “There’s confusion in the system in doing the same things and returning to the same place. New ideas are therefore needed to overhaul the long overdue system. I believe what we need is a holistic approach whereby attention goes to these challenges. We need to redirect the system and walk the talk. When there’s a way, there’s a way.”
In her explanation of why she believed the Federal Government was no longer able to support postsecondary education, she cited the Nigerian government’s poor allocation of funds for education as a clear sign that it was either unable or unwilling to do so. She revealed that her university receives a budget of N11m per month. She spends N77 million on power alone, yet she still needs to come up with innovative ways to run her university.”TETFund and ETF were present, but they need to be more durable. 8.2% of Nigeria’s 2023 budget is earmarked for education. South Africa received 18.4 while Ghana received 12.8 in 2023.
“At UNIBEN, we’ve undertaken the cost of training a student in each department. It takes N3m to train a medical student per session, but such a student pays only N240 over six years. Interestingly, this amount is far less than paid in a private secondary school; some of us pay as much as N380,000 for our children in creches per term. Students must pay commensurate fees for their courses of study. We must pay for services rendered.”
Salami stated that there are other ways for students to get financial aid, including bursaries, loans for deserving but poor students, annual levies from alumni associations, scholarships, and more. “Good funding can redress dilapidated equipment, and other infrastructure, improved remuneration to motivate teachers and attract global scholars.”
She tasked ASUU to rethink its strike options, saying, “The union must jettison its obsolete ideas and embrace new ideas on how to seek better working conditions. The union must hold an education summit on how to sustain education. The Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC) is working on ways to make tertiary education meet international standards to make universities competitive. Curricula must be updated and must imbibe new teaching methods. E-learning must be adopted. Most courses should be on e-learning.”
The UNIBEN VC further asserted that universities should admit their own students since those enrolled on their behalf place an unneeded load on the institutions. Salami claimed that IPPIS is a useless program that prevents institutions from operating efficiently.
“Government should allow universities to pay lecturers to determine work rate and excellence. The almighty IPPIS is not the way to go. It’s fueling indiscipline, laziness, lack of commitment among teachers.”
She condemned the proliferation of universities, saying most were glorified nursery schools.
“The current system, as approved by NUC, is unproductive, wasteful and unsustainable. Institutions do not have to run all programmes. The mandate of the University of Agriculture should be on agriculture. Similarly, a polytechnic should be recognised for a certain area of technology. A medical university should be for medical sciences. A situation where a university undertakes courses it is ill-prepared for should be over. We must courageously avoid amorphous, amoebic, and shapeless programmes in tertiary institutions.”
Earlier, at the beginning of the international conference, which was attended by a number of government agencies, Dare Oluwatuyi, the Chairman of the Nigeria Book Fair Trust and organizer of the book fair, expressed satisfaction with the caliber of the attendees and the themes under discussion. Children’s programs and other fun events were presented at the 22nd Nigeria International Book Fair.
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