The Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, has said progress is being made in seeking resolution to the lingering crisis, as the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) entered its 86th day.
But he was not specific, Okojie, who was speaking at a luncheon with journalists in Abuja Tuesday, added that the NUC was playing its part to resolve the crisis.
‘We are making progress, we are talking. NUC is ensuring that it provides enough information to ensure the resolution of the crisis. I am appealing to my colleagues, that whatever the issues are, we can talk about them,’ he said.
Commenting on other issues, Okojie disagreed with the notion that Nigerian certificates were not honoured abroad. He emphasised that Nigerians, who graduated from local institutions with honours are accepted to study in the best institutions abroad. ‘Many of these graduates, are the best in their programmes in foreign institutions,’ he said.
Okojie, however, admitted that the university system was still fraught with lots of irregularities and sharp practices. ‘When we suspended the licences of seven universities, we discovered that two of them had awarded doctorate degrees to 12 people when they were not even accredited for post graduate studies,’ Okojie disclosed.
In another development, the Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, has disclosed that the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has disbursed about N142 billion to states in the last three years.
The money is intended to support the provision of required infrastructure and materials as well as develop capacity in basic education in Nigeria. Meanwhile, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and his Cross River State counterpart, Mr. Liyel Imoke, have identified unduly centralised system, outdated curricula at different levels and lack of harmony in the manner schools were run as critical challenges confronting the country’s education system.
They expressed their concern at a public lecture titled, Public Private Partnership as Strategy for Education recently organised in Lagos to mark the Kings College Founders’ Day, noting that as a result of lack of such curriculum, the country ‘is producing manpower where its economy no longer needs them.’
Fashola said the nature of the Nigerian economy ‘has changed over the last 50 years, but the curriculum has remained almost the same. In order to change this trend and stem the increasing army of unemployed graduates, the review of such curriculum was not only necessary but also expedient.’
Fashola, who was a guest speaker at the lecture, called for the harmonisation of the school curriculum and calendar, said: ‘Indeed, if it is possible, without centralisation, there is a sense in which you know that a country is making progress when they begin to speak the same language on the same issue through many independent voices that operate like a well choreographed orchestra.’
He cited the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) programme, which he said, was an example of disharmony in the university system on the ground that the programme had been broken into tiers in order to accommodate all the students graduating at different periods of the year. Also speaking, Imoke declared: ‘The problems of the Nigerian Education Sector are further exacerbated and crystallised at the tertiary level. Firstly, the Nigerian University System is in a crisis of manpower.’
Imoke added that according to the 2012 All Africa.com report by Prof. Ladipo Adamolekun, the former Dean of the Faculty of Administration, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, only 43 percent of academics in Nigerian universities are PhD holders’. Imoke therefore advocated the decentralization of the country’s education system with more responsibilities given to the states, adding that the right environment should be created for private sector participation in order to adequately fund education.