9th August, 2022
By David O. Kuranga
Professors of Practice or Clinical Professors are faculty members that are appointed on contract to augment University instruction and give students practical hands-on teaching. Most often, these faculties have real world experience in the field that they are appointed to teach. They are typically active professionals in sciences, business, government, and civil society.
Even former heads -of-state have been featured as faculty members. These faculties are a prominent presence at all of the top universities in the world.
However, quite noticeably, they are absent from the Nigerian Federal University Faculty System.
Despite chronic strikes and disputes with the union faculty, the Ministry of Education, the Pro Chancellors, and administration of the various Federal Universities have failed to follow these best practices found in higher education institutions all over the world. In any given major university in the world, Professors of Practice or Clinical Professors make up a large share of the faculty.
In the United States today over 70% of the professors are not tenure-track. A large chunk of them are clinical professors of practice that are not party to any union structure.
In Nigeria today we have scores of successful working professionals, many of whom have occupied international positions of repute, that would gladly volunteer their time to help to educate the next generation of Nigerians, if given the opportunity to do so.
Some of these individuals are industry captains, retirees,former civil servants and business owners with much to offer the next generation of Nigerians with their wealth of knowledge and years of experience.
Despite this, the Ministry of Education, and the administration of the federal universities have done next to nothing to recruit and bring many of these talented and patriotic Nigerians into their fold as clinical teaching faculty. As such, our federal universities remain hostage to the union faculty to provide almost 100% of their teaching instruction.
Faculty disputes are not uncommon in universities all over the world. Strikes occur as a result of ongoing disputes, just like in Nigeria. The major difference is the administration of the Universities and the Education Ministries in other places have learned from their mistakes.
No longer do Universities function with 100% of instruction provided by professional union faculty. As a result, it is virtually impossible for any union to totally shut down any University in the world, provided that they are being run by a competent administration that has diversified their teaching staff.
Many are now calling for federal universities in Nigeria to be privatized, to blunt the impact of the ASUU union. However, such drastic measures are not even necessary. It is the failure of the education ministry, and the administration of federal universities over the years to incorporate the private sector in its teaching staff that have left these federal learning institutions subject to closure every time the union faculty walk off the job.
This incompetence and failure to adapt has been rewarded over the years. Not a single Pro Chancellor, Minister, or administrative official has missed a paycheck, or been axed over these obvious failures.
What incentive do they have to do their jobs? Even in the press, journalists have failed to point out.
Eventually this stalemate with ASUU will be resolved the federal universities will resume. The question is, will those entrusted to operate these institutions learn their lesson this time?
*David O. Kuranga, Ph.D. – Is the Managing Director and CEO of Kuranga Power Corporation. He has been a Professor of International Relations & Economic Development. He is the Author of The Power of Interdependence: Lessons from Africa, with Palgrave Macmillan Press.