21st September, 2010
Everyone knows that education is in shambles all over Nigeria. However, the state ofÂ university education in the South-East region is so appalling that members of theÂ Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, had to call out lecturers to protest on theÂ streets. The lecturers in the state-owned universities took to the streets recently whenÂ the five state governments in the zone ignored the lecturers who have been on strikeÂ since 22 July this year.
At the forefront of the protest was ASUU President, Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie whoÂ condemned the rot in the state-owned universities in the geopolitical zone. According toÂ him, the governments have been paying lip service to university education and have failedÂ to take concrete steps to improve facilities in the universities which are in abysmalÂ shape. To make matters worse, non-academic staff have also joined the strike, thusÂ paralysing academic activities completely.
The rot in the state-owned universities in the South-East is also replicated inÂ federal-owned universities where even basic facilities and equipment needed for learningÂ are not available. The absence of facilities needed for conducive learning has turnedÂ most universities into glorified secondary schools. In fact, some private secondaryÂ schools boast of laboratories where science students carry out experiments whereasÂ universities donâ€™t have such facilities.
We support Awuzie who has blamed Igbo leaders for not speaking out against the easternÂ state governments for neglecting tertiary education. Awuzie is seeking a minimumÂ benchmark for standard of university education in the east in accordance with theÂ requirement of the National Universities Commission, NUC, on accreditation forÂ universities. Some of the affected state universities are Enugu State University ofÂ Science and Technology, ESUT, Imo State Univerity, IMSU and Abia State University, ABSU.Â The crisis must be resolved now so that the students can resume.
In some of the universities, studentsÂ do not sit down while receiving lectures becauseÂ of lack of chairs and tables in the classrooms. Should such institutions be called ivoryÂ towers or centres of academic excellence? It is this state of affairs that has given riseÂ to the sprouting of private universities across the country. But how many parents canÂ afford the huge tuition fees demanded by the private universities? Some demand as much asÂ N450,000 per student per session. Only the rich and thieving public office holders canÂ send their children to such universities.
The rot in the nationâ€™s education has persisted because virtually all public officeÂ holders and the rich send their children abroad to learn. To these people, it does notÂ matter if the education system collapses completely. The progressive decline in ourÂ education system began in the late 80s after the military took over power and bastardizedÂ everything while pillaging the nation. Since then there has been no concerted effort toÂ rebuild the decaying infrastructure; even successive civilian administrations that tookÂ over power eleven years ago have continued to turn a blind eye to the urgent need toÂ reverse the sad trend.
The future of our youths will continued to be mortgaged if the state and federalÂ governments fail to enact policies that could prevent things from getting worse. TheÂ future of the nationâ€™s education so bleak that, even at the moment Nigeria, according theÂ Global Campaign for Education, GCE, has worldâ€™s worst education enrolment, with 8.2Â million children out of school. With this huge number of children out of school, what isÂ the fate of tertiary education in the next few years? The issue of kidnapping didnâ€™tÂ manifest suddenly. It is a product of the criminal neglect of the youths whose energyÂ could have been properly harnessed to serve the nation in better capacities if they hadÂ gone to school and were properly trained and employed after their graduation. InsecurityÂ will persist in our country as long as our idle youths cannot go to school and learn howÂ to improve themselves and contribute their quota to the development of the society.