By Bode Akinbode, Ibadan
Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde has said that the government could not be feeding universities with substandard raw materials and expect them to miraculously produce high-quality finished products.
The governor made the assertion on Monday, during his address at the occasion of the 34th Conference of the Association of the Vice Chancellor of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU), held at the University of Ibadan.
Makinde, who spoke on the theme: “Prioritizing Quality Assurance: Teaching, Research And Professional Conduct,” emphasised that if better results would be achieved, there was the need to up the ante and feed the universities with higher quality materials.
In his words: “We cannot be feeding universities with substandard raw materials and expect them to miraculously manufacture high-quality finished products. We will reap only what we sow. If we want better products, we have to up the ante and feed our universities with higher quality materials.”
“Happily, it is the hands of each state governor including me, especially me, to improve education standards in states under their watch.”
“This is one area we cannot pass the buck to the Federal Government if that was even a strategy to consider. I would rather expend the energy I would have wasted in passing the buck to do something that will make a difference.”
“When I was campaigning to be governor of Oyo State, I took out time to talk about what I would do in the education sector if I became governor. By the grace of God, I am now the Governor of Oyo State, I can no longer, in good conscience, only talk about the things I will do.”
“I should also talk about what I have done. Immediately I took office, how to get those 400,000 children off the streets and into the classroom was top of mind.”
“I looked at the major obstacle that kept them out of school. In a state where the per capita income is below $3, asking parents to pay to keep their children in school or for exams is a big barrier. The pragmatic solution to this problem was removing the barrier and this is the first step our administration took.”
“Although I know that we were able to get more children than ever before to register for the Primary Six and Junior Secondary School three exams, I do not kid myself into thinking that such a feat will be worth more than fancy newspaper headlines if the quality of education these children receive in the classroom does not prepare them for the job market.”
The governor who expressed disappointment on the abysmal level of education in the state, noted that the state government has a record number of out-of-school children, totalling over 400,000, adding that the student to teacher ratio was three times higher than the ideal.
“The quality of education is low and the quality assurance monitoring mechanism is weak. Add to that the fact that until recently, one of our foremost citadels for tertiary education, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso was under lock and key.”
“In the shortest possible time, we will be rolling out our plans for education in Oyo State in keeping with the overall vision of this administration that functional and qualitative education is needed to achieve Oyo State’s strategic development priorities.”
“We have promised to spend at least 10% of our annual budget on education and increase it annually over the years until it matches UNESCO standards of 15-20%. This is expected to improve quality assurance in public schools in the state,” the governor assured.
Makinde, then, called on relevant stakeholders to partner his government in the bid to ensure quality control in government-owned schools.
Earlier in his remark, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Idowu Olayinka observed that the Nigerian University System currently has a total of 174 Universities comprising 43 Federal Universities, 52 State universities and 79 private universities, adding that the nature of problems in the institutions differ depending largely on the mode of ownership.
According to him, public universities are in general much cheaper and to that extent over-subscribed than the private universities which do not receive financial support from government tend to be costlier and largely under subscribed.
“About 94per cent of the undergraduates are currently enrolled in the public universities while the remaining six per cent are in the private universities.”
“The public universities are characterized by unstable academic calendar largely on account of incessant disagreements between staff unions and management and proprietor. This has made our public universities largely unattractive to foreign students.”
“We certainly can do much better than is currently the case in the spirit of university autonomy. One can only hope that this conference will afford us an opportunity to share ideas on how to cooperate and collaborate for greater efficiency on our various campuses,” the VC stressed.