Affordable Education System Beyond ASUU-FGN Impasse in NigeriaProf.R.A Ipinyomi Monday, November 11th, 2013
By Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi
There are many challenges confronting the Nigeria nation in every direction one may turn. Nigeria is like every individual fighting against spiritual forces in diverse and high places. The roads are bad, the energy sector is epileptic, the hospitals are few and poorly staffed or poorly equipped, the insecurity in the country at peak level, the politics are badly run, everything you turn to is faulty. Even our common moral value system has run aground. Thank God for the current impasses between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) over the non-implementation of an agreement they signed in 2009. It appears a new agreement is to be signed this 2013 but Nigeria education system needs more than periodic squabble between workers and the government.
It can be said that we live in a spiritual Sodom and Gomorrah where the end is coming but we are generally lingering in the worldliness of corruption and extreme secularism. It will take some hard thinking on our part to walk away from debased systems. A few of us may have come to realise that our value system is upside down yet even such individuals are still wallowing and lingering in indifference. We are slow when we should have been quick and backward when we should be forward to fixing things. We are trifling when we should have been hasty and cold when we should have been hot. We don’t have to have been loitering when we should have been hurrying away from unacceptable places. Some of the consequences of our action or inaction include incessant strikes, kidnapping, and others. When you come to a road block the people who dress up there may be genuine or fake officials.
The world around us is smouldering embers that will soon burst into the flames of the greatest tribulation that has ever hit the entirety of the earth but unfortunately, many linger while the world is getting ready to burn. Many of our leaders know far more than they live up to. They can see and understand far more than they practice or offer us. Such leaders are thrilled to hear good and sound lectures. They believe in the correct and acceptable value system, and yet they are constantly doing things that disappoint others around them. They hate the situations around them when things fail to work and connect properly yet it seems as if they do things against the norms. They act as though they wish that their tenure-time was long endlessly. They know that orderliness is a beautiful thing but it seems that they only like to read about it in books and to see it in others. Our political and institution leaders have the notion that it is impossible for them to be that straightforward and honest.
Our system requires a bit of personal sacrifice and some amount of self-denial which these leaders dread and shrink from. Instead they only try to keep up with the world around them by obeying their political and regional sponsors. They are ingenious at discovering reasons for not separating from it, giving themselves all kinds of justifications for doing things like anyone else or holding on to questionable relationships. We need to do battle with our besetting ignorance, corruption, laziness, nepotism and the like, factors that are bane to our development and be truly committed to national building and edifying society norms.
At the university level we teach our students to read, listen, study, memorise, and to practice what they have been taught on daily basis. In addition we try to mentor them by being some kind of role models as possible to the few that are teachable. All we had learned, from our own colonial teachers till date, we attempt to pass onto them. The environments have changed just as the generations have changed. The commitment and trust in the institutional system from parents have nosedived. Many Nigerian parents now take it upon themselves to apply for the admissions, pass examinations, and seek for accommodation, all on behalf of their children. They just want to give the children a package of success and not expose them to the least of the difficult huddles we face daily. This also is very wrong and not a proper way to bring up children in this generation.
Meanwhile the government give the impression to parents and students that education is free. I am between socialism and capitalism in my person orientation. As a conservative Christian I abhor extreme secularization because of its evil agenda of indifference and lack of accountability. For example same-sex marriage is not moving the world forward but it is part of the grand political agenda of liberal and secular politicians. However I find myself always defending the underdogs and socialism. Hence in order to fund the education system properly stakeholders have to contribute to make qualitative education available to our children. The government may fail us but we should not collectively fail the youth.
I spend a period of time during a Sabbatical leave in a private University where the fee was N500,000 per annum (apart from feeding and accommodation). The University was given permission by National University Commission NUC of Nigeria to admit 500 students per year but the university could not find up to 120 students a year. Meanwhile the best students had been admitted to the Federal Universities that had built up some reputations and had been established with some standard. I then charged the university to have a re-think of whether it was morally or economically sound for a Christian University to charge N100,000 per student and be able to admit 1000 students each year or to charge N500,000 per student whereas only about 100 students could be admitted. Similarly the Federal Universities should be some fee-paying to some extent to build up the institutions and also forestall strikes. The Federal Government should not shy away from its responsibility of what it could or not do. We are however not ready to have a Minister of Finance who would short change the education sector but approves payment of millions of naira to each Nigeria elected or appointed officials each month. The sacrifice we advocate should start from the leaders and go down to the students and their parents.Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi, email@example.com or/and firstname.lastname@example.org
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