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Reforms, funding required to revamp Nigeria’s ailing tertiary education

Nigeria will need to increase funding and carry out key reforms in the tertiary education system to become a strong middle base country in the next few years, Kingsley Moghalu, presidential aspirant has said.

Moghalu said the structure of tertiary education must begin to align with Nigeria’s objectives for different sectors as a first step to correct the misfit of results produced over the years through backdated curriculums.

Speaking during a virtual conference on “Funding of Tertiary Education in Nigeria: What Options” hosted by Prime Business Africa, the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria itemised three action points, including financing a reform of the curriculum towards making Nigeria a powerful country in globalisation in the next 20 to 25 years.

According to him, education is the surest path to human development and way out of poverty. The more educated people become, the better decisions are made to stop intergenerational poverty in the country.

Hence, Nigeria’s education system has to be such that 70 percent of the curriculum focuses on science and technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and entrepreneurship in order to produce a robust pool of human capital that will power industrialisation.

But Nigeria needs to devise more effective means to funding which such as research and development and innovation which the patents on intellectual properties from those investments can find their activities.

Read also: Paucity of leadership roles for African women in higher education

For many years, tertiary education in Nigeria has been facing a declining government budgetary allocation in the face of increased student enrolment, ageing and dilapidation infrastructure and increased staff emolument.

Bunmi Oyinsan, the founder of Lekki Peninsula College said it was crucial for universities to harness traditional systems of funding and also look at how the institutions can strategically tailor their programs to address development needs, adding that programmes which have high private returns to the graduates should be prioritised.

“It should be the responsibility of individual universities to look into the kind of programs they offer. Programmes should be assessed for relevance, in the sense that do they respond to labour market needs, foster innovation or serve communities?” She queried.

She added that banks can also play huge roles in providing funds either through grants or concessional loans when there is an area of mutual interest.

“Things like concessionary loans can be fashioned in ways that can particularly favour tertiary institutions such as the use of subsidised loans to establish or expand particular programs, also donation and endowment also offer large financial opportunities which have not been adequately exploited for tertiary institutions and these need to be harnessed,” she added.

Similarly, Sam Amadi, former director-general, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said we should create or fund a campaign that will help universities to develop database of their alumni.

“You can’t talk about alumni support if you don’t have the database. It is when we have their database that we can start talking about reforms,” said Amadi, now a lecturer at Baze University, Abuja.

Abdullahi Bashir from Modibbo Adama University, Yola also highlighted the slow adoption of technology in institutions among administrators, tutors and even students; hence they are forced to spend huge amounts of money on paper based activities.

Bashir added that development of the educational system will require collaborative efforts from the religious institutions, corporate organisations, individuals, etc. and urged that tertiary institutions encourage programs that have vocational elements and programs that boost Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

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