There are different types of
Universities in Nigeria. There are the public universities which comprise of
the federal and state universities while private Universities are either
faith-based or owned by a proprietor. Nigeria has a total of 121 universities. These
universities have various ways of being funded. However, there are perturbing
issues that need to be addressed for Nigerians to experience quality education.
Federal and State Universities in
Nigeria are full-fledged communities on their own. These communities have
Vice-Chancellors who are like Prime Ministers while the Pro-Chancellors are the
Ceremonial Heads. The Vice Chancellors are charged with the responsibility of running
the institutions on daily basis. As it is known for ages, man is the most
difficult animal to control, we all reason differently. This has led to the
breakdown of law and order within the campus at the slightest provocation.
The different unions within the
institution agitate for their rights most especially fund related reasons. Many
of these unions feel that the Vice-Chancellor is not sensitive to their
plights, whereas he is waiting to access funds from either the Federal or State
Government. These infringements on their human rights lead to incessant strike
actions, peaceful protests, rallies and other industrial actions.
These industrial actions of the
unions impact negatively on the students who are the proverbial grass that
suffer the most when two Elephants engage in a needless fight. These students
spend many years in the University than necessary because of these endless
tussles. Students do not know the number of years that it takes to study a 4-year
course while veterinary and medical students spend up to a decade in school. Conversely,
University of Ilorin has been running her academic calendar for years without undue
interruption from the forces of the unions and the students.
Interestingly, about thirty years
ago, university students were treated like a King. They had good facilities,
good hostels, accommodating lecturers and the freedom of expression which
helped them even after graduation and the environment was less competitive.
Unfortunately, the current generation of students study under severe conditions
such as epileptic power supply; dearth of portable way; uninhabitable hostels;
poor lit classrooms; old and irrelevant books in the libraries; sadist
lecturers and increase in fees without adequate notice to the students.
All of the aforementioned facts
have resulted in protest in the University of Lagos and the University of Port
Harcourt in less than a fortnight. These institutions of learning experience
uprising by the student unions and these schools have been closed down
indefinitely. As sang by the Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Nigerians
are accustomed to ‘Suffering and smiling’. Should these students continue to
suffer in silence when the state of learning is not conducive?
Students can be very violent but
should the uniform agents of government be used to stop them when they are not
armed? There is no need to shed the blood of students during uprising in our
tertiary institutions like it happened recently at the University of Port
Harcourt. Whatever is destroyed, many times, the students pay for it before
resumption. In the same vein, the lecturers and the school authorities that
they pay courtesy visit to on normal days, stay away from addressing them at
this period of anguish and pain. If the Dean of Students Affairs or the Vice
Chancellor can address these students; the situation might subside but they
stay away till a memo is issued. Many times, this aggravates the uprising.
This ugly trend has led Nigerian
graduates to be tagged ‘half-baked’, ‘unemployable’ among others. Everyone keeps
yelling about the quality of education but people are not complaining about the
state of education. The state of education precedes the quality of education. There
is a need to take a holistic view at tertiary education in Nigeria.
On the other hand, students of
private universities are usually from very rich backgrounds. Prior to now, it
is assumed that pupils of public and private schools attend the same university
except those who travel out of the Nigerian borders. In this age, parents might
decided to train their children through all level of education belonging to the
same ‘group of educational provider’ for example there are some individuals who
have primary, secondary and university. There
are ways in which parents are lured to send their children to these private
institutions, this include, the promise of scholarship to top performers; discount
for siblings; discount to children of the members of the denomination; for
faith-based institutions and many more.
There are majorly two means of
gaining admission into these universities. Some years ago, after ‘failing’ the
almighty JAMB (Joint Admission Matriculation Board), the determinant of your
eligibility status for admission into a federal or state university, I got a
surface mail from Madonna University that I can apply to the institution. Another
way of getting admitted is by applying directed to the school.
As such, Dr. Idris Oyemitan of
the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences,
Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa wrote a piece
titled ‘Proliferation of First Class Degrees’ from students of private
universities. According to him there are four angles to think of it-
·The Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE)
grades of these glorifies first class graduates cannot match those in public
·Almost, if not all of them, scored below average
or minimum scores that would not have qualified them for admission into leading
·Most of the private universities cannot compete
with the public ones in the areas of quality lecturers as they most rely on unemployed,
retired, visiting, part-time and sometimes grossly incompetent academic staff
·Most of the private universities cannot boast of
He concluded the piece by urging
the National Universities Commission should look into this issue, intervene and
restore sanity into these treacherous acts of our private universities.
These arguments are very strong
but I will also want to disagree with him a little, particularly, on the third point,
I believe much more in retired academic because they are like old wine. They
have mastered their craft over decades as such, they now understand the most
effective way of teaching their students. As regards standard laboratories, private
institutions invest more and have recent tools that are not in the obsolete
laboratories that both federal and state schools pride themselves to have in
their possession. In fact, private institutions generate electricity when the
government institutions are complaining that they do not have it all. There
have been reported cases of students passing the night in the laboratories of
some public institutions so that they can carry out experiments if electricity
is restored in the wee hours of the day. Many parents’ buy strikes’ and other
time wasting factors associated with government tertiary institutions.
This debate is an endless one.
However there is a need for universities and their administrators to think
deeply. There is a difference between a staunch academia who never worked in
the private sector and an academia who worked in the private sector. The
Federal and State Universities must learn how to generate internal revenue,
which is well accounted for, void of government subvention; let every staff be
on strict Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). While the private institutions
need to imbibe leading standards obtainable in other parts of the world; it is
an insult to be alleged as incompetent.
All tertiary institution either
public or private should be concerned with the production of quality graduates
that can stand shoulder high with the graduates of other universities in the
world. These schools usually pride themselves with one exceptional student who
independently becomes successful as their product, what the Nigerian society
need are institutions that can showcase all her products. Sadly, there are millions
of graduates from both public and private institutions who are either
unemployed or underemployed.