• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Underfunding: Experts urge government to see varsities as driving force of human development

Underfunding: Experts urge government to see varsities as driving force of human development

Against the backdrop of the challenges surrounding the policy of funding of education across all levels, there is an urgent need for the government to see institutions of higher learning as a powerful foundation for life, career, citizenship and human development industry, professionals have said.

Concerned educationists observed that there was a systematic if not a carefully designed agenda to paralyse public university education in order to make way for a market-based privatisation of university education.

They opine that while there are several benefits of investing in higher education, government must realise that a well invested higher education system will enable graduates to approach problems through multiple ways of learning and knowing; to think deeply, critically and creatively.

In the 21st century and beyond, knowledge, entrepreneurship and the mastery of information and communication technologies should become Nigeria’s best competitive advantage said Maurice Onyiriuka, a senior lecturer at Imo State University, Owerri, Imo State, hence the importance of investing in people’s education and training.

According to Onyiriuka, “Universities should play a leading role in assisting people in the country by enabling them to become active producers of knowledge, goods and services and not being merely consumers of the knowledge, products and services offered by others.

He further noted that without investing in education Nigeria will remain disadvantaged among comity of nations.

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Experience has shown that while Nigeria has vast physical and natural resources, intangible assets such as knowledge and information technology now determine wealth creation.

Nasir Fagge Isa, former president, Academic Staff of Nigerian Universities (Asuu),opines that the directions of university education presently therefore can only lead to loss of identity, national disintegration, sustenance of dependency economy and a political ideology of dominance and exploitation,

Fagge while recognising the fact that the 21st century is a knowledge society and that knowledge is the basis of economic growth, successful economies and individuals achievements, the former ASUU president says he believes that simply narrowing university education to the production of knowledge and accumulation of capital and supporting set of values has led to severe inequalities in global development.

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank was quoted to in a report on Unlocking the Potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa, is optimistic, correctly observing that Africa stands on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and it is crucial that Africa does not miss out.

In order for Nigeria and indeed Africa to participate and benefit from the 4IR, the universities must drive these changes. Having said that, the full impact of the fourth industrial revolution or the direction it will take is not yet known, hence the importance of remaining open to continued learning.

For African economies to industrialise and become competitive worldwide, they need people who possess the capacity for empathy, communication skills, problemsolving skills, technological skills, and knowledge required for development.

Without these skills and knowledge, physical capital and natural resources remain underutilised or are exploited by those from outside Africa. In fact, the World Bank correctly notes that global wealth today is concentrated less and less in physical assets such as factories, mineral resources, land, tools, buildings and machinery.

It is now a reality that knowledge, skills and resourcefulness of people are increasingly critical to the world and national economies. Knowledge is and has been at centre-stage of human and economic development. As the World Bank notes, knowledge enlightens the lives of people and is crucial to any development effort.

Thus, real education offered in institutions of higher learning is the driving force of human development and should continuously serve to rekindle and sustain people’s imagination, creativity and innovation.