By Godday Odidi
The recent suspension of Nigerian Universities from running Part- time Programmes by National Universities Commission(NUC) by the Executive Secretary Prof Julius Okojie is an indication of unbiased and political undertone in the Nigeria’ s education sector.Over the years, the education sector has suffered several setbacks on inconsistent policies by education policy makers in the country.
In 2000, precisely, the then Minister of Education Prof Aborishade Babalola under the then administration of chief Olusegun Obasanjo suspended Part-time programmes from the Nation’s Universities which was tagged as “Satellite campuses”. Prof Aborishade directed all the Nigerian Universities to cancel its distance learning and set up the Part- Time programmes within 200km away from the main University which many applauded as a welcome development. Though that brought some education standards to the then mushroom campuses called Universities.Many of these Satellite campuses were closed down after the holistic decision taken by the commission to revive the education sector. Although some of these Satellite campuses were operating like perfect markets with desperate education capitalists who were only interested in the returns of students school fees and nothing else.Over the the past years, the standard of education in Nigeria has collapsed as a result of regular strikes by Universities’ lecturers and other challenging factors confronting the University system in the country. The high profile brain-drain among Nigeria lecturers and students patronizing foreign universities on yearly basis has called for great concern towards the education sector. It is sad that Nigeria’s certificates are not recognized in the international communities due to the low score-card in the sector. The fact remains that Nigerians do well in foreign universities which system is regulated by the educational authorities over there.
Prof Julius Okojie meant well for the Nigerian students that patronize the so-called Part- time programmes but the decision was abruptly suspended without much consultation from the Nigerian universities.This unpalatable decision has created uncontrollable comatose on the lives of the Nigerian students that are the victims of the commission not University stakeholders.The economic hardship in Nigeria which invariably prompted many Nigerians not to attend the conventional universities but attend the Part- time programmes as to complement the late pursuit of education in the country.The country is presently having over 120 universities including private ones, Colleges of education, Monotechnics and Polytechnics. Licenses are being issued to private individuals to set up universities which are not in the reach of the poor.
Though some of these Part- time programmes being run by some of these nation’s universities are not accredited by the NUC but still in operating illegally while degrees are being awarded to students.It is even difficult for NUC to monitor the academic activities of these higher universities in Nigeria.For NUC to approve 30 courses out of 31 of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) indicated that the commission is playing politics with the education sector.The commission has continued to increase the approval of private universities while the existing ones are nothing to write home about.The commission has told Nigerians who cares to listen that the increase of students enrollment in the Part-time programmes are more than the full time programmes. That shows the increment of adult education in Nigeria in recent times. How many Nigerians can afford full time university or Masters degree?If these so-called excuses by the commission is nothing to go by while not the Nigerian universities not rated as the best in the world.
Not quiet long ago when the University of Lagos(UNILAG) was renamed after the late democratic chief MKO Abiola Moshood Abiola Unversity (MAULAG) by President Goodluck Jonathan as part to commemorate May 29 as Democracy day which decision is still pending in the court till final verdict.Education in Nigeria from the primary to the university levels needed to be overhauled because of the high profile corruption that has crept into the system. Though Nigeria has the best lecturers and students but the system is unprofessionally mismanaged by desperate education policy makers and nothing else.President Goodluck Jonathan on his assumption as number one citizen of the country established nine federal universities to boost the education sector which many political observers assume he would have restructure the existing ones across the country.Most of these policies being carried out by the NUC on the Nigerian universities on yearly basis needed to be scrutinized by the federal government.The present Education Minister Prof Rufia is silent on the decision of the NUC.The NUC also embarked on monitory some of the nation’s universities over the accreditation of programmes which some universities were greatly affected and published in national newspapers as defaulters.The NUC has directed all the universities not to have more than 20 percent of their student population on Part-time with excess capacity to teach. All Part-time programmes must be located on campus. The universities must score over 70 percent in all areas of assessment including the provision of library facilities before it would be accredited. it is good that NUC streamline some Satellite campuses being run by these so-called desperate education operators. Some of these lecturers in these Part- time programmes are not qualified to teach by being conscripted on the students. Even there is no formidable union to monitor the academic activities of these institutions of higher learning. These Part-time programmes generate revenue to the main universities in the country.Most of the leaders of these country are beneficiaries of these Part-time programmes.
Finally ,National Assembly must intervene in this situation to save Nigerian students from NUC unjust policy to the education sector. Even foreign universities operate Part-time programmes . Most of these universities are not operating Satellite campuses which operation is not different from the main universities.
By Godday Odidi
Public Affairs Analyst 08058124798, 08063458693,
20 Oro Street Ajegunle Apapa Lagos