6th September, 2012
A Professor of Educational Psychology, Felicia Olabisi Olasehinde-Williams, has identified what she called “Academic Integrity Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)” as a deadly virus threatening to crash the tertiary education superstructure in the country.
The don explained that her own concept of “AIDS” refers to all forms of academic dishonesty in dealing with tertiary education issues in the country.
To avoid this imminent crash, the educational psychologist insisted that the country’s tertiary education template must be re-formatted by endorsing an academic integrity culture. By so doing, Prof. Olasehinde-Williams said, “Nigeria can become an economic power-house and realise its vision of becoming one of the 20 largest economies in the world by year 2020.”
Borrowing from the management system framework at the University of Malaya, Malaysia, she sought “a significant increase” in the funds invested in higher education so that university education would meet societal needs and satisfaction.
She said: “For meaningful intervention initiatives, UNESCO’s 26 per cent benchmark should be the minimum allocation of fund to tertiary education in Nigeria”, advising that existing gaps in approved, released and disbursed funds must be bridged if quality education is to be assured in the nation.
The don added that quality management system must be established with focus on teaching and learning, appointment and performance, infrastructure, finance, students’ evaluation, follow-up and complaints. She also stated that an enhanced legislative framework must be instituted to provide legitimacy for quality management system, advising the Ministry of Education to establish a Quality Assurance Division that could conform to international quality standards.
According to the lecturer, a key reason for the current lack of sufficient number of competent graduates to manage the nation’s economic development is the obvious disconnect between the needs of the Nigerian industry and the nation’s output of graduates. She decried the situation where technical education has been ignored for degree programmes contrary to what is obtained in many countries where technical education is an integral part of economic development.
To correct the situation, the education psychologist urged the government “to put definite structures in place to encourage technical education. For instance, holders of Higher National Diploma (HND) and First Degrees should be rated equally in terms of remuneration and status in the work place to remove the current wrong perception of technical education as inferior to university education.”
Prof. Olasehinde-Williams recommended that education policies and reform initiatives must derive from comprehensive and objective appraisal of societal needs, using the bottom–top development approach. This, according to her, requires the involvement of all stakeholders in the tertiary education enterprise (including the end-users of tertiary education product) in the appraisal and identification of societal needs and planning of policies and reforms for purposes of viability, buying-in and ownership.
She stressed that as much as possible, education policies and reform initiatives must be depoliticised in order to ensure their sustainability, adding that there is “the need to allow leadership of tertiary education superintending agencies and the Federal Education Ministry sufficient time to drive specific policy initiatives to logical conclusion rather than being changed frequently because it, no doubt, limits quality driving.”
The lecturer maintained that student admission should be largely based on performance in competitive examinations (written and oral) and placement to programmes based on interest and aptitude. This, she said, should be done with an eye on inclusive education, particularly in relation to gender equity and disability.