What exactly is the Solution to the Poor Tertiary Education in Nigeria? New Schools or Refurbishing of Old ones?
We all are aware of the standard of our tertiary education in this country. If I am speaking your mind, you are not sometimes proud that you had your higher education in this country compared to your colleagues outside; you had this feeling that you would have been better off schooling in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Europe or America, yeah! Many of us also had that feeling too. However, if I may ask you, what in your honest appraisal, opinion and perspective is wrong with our tertiary institutions because if we must be honest, there’s something wrong, it’s poor relative to even other African countries. Is it that we don’t have good lecturers? Does it have anything to do with the number of tertiary institutions available or the infrastructures? What exactly is it because when we know exactly what the problem is, then we can be sure of appropriate solutions.
Some years ago, the federal government through the National University Commission (NUC) in an effort to uplift the standard and grant more access to tertiary educations in Nigeria granted operational licenses to state governments, private individuals and organizations to start colleges, polytechnics and universities, and since then, the number of tertiary institutions has been on an increase. But how well has this effort gone to remedy the poor condition of our tertiary education? To me, it has not gone really far. Moreover, there was another proposition which led to the creation of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) whose aim is to refurbish and upgrade already existing schools, though this has help to some extent, however, it has not changed our status quo, our tertiary education is still poor. What then is exactly the solution to the poor tertiary education in Nigeria? Let’s identify the problem first before we begin to think of the solution.
If we debunk that the problem and therefore the solution is really not with building new schools or refurbishing old ones, then could it have anything to do with our lecturers? What’s your opinion? In my own opinion, it is a capital NO! Nigeria as a country has one of the best set of intellectuals in the world. As a matter of fact, some of them had their training and sometimes teaching experience abroad. Therefore, I think the problem and thus, the solution to the poor tertiary education in our country is more of fundamental than the creation of new schools and/or refurbishment of old ones for which a lot of resources have been spent on already.
The cause of poor tertiary education in our country is fundamental, systematic and thus, the solution has to be too. If our tertiary institutions would ever meet the demand of human capacity development for solution to national issues and economic challenges in this contemporary times, then there’s need to go back to the drawing board and address issues from there. There are fundamental/systematic things that need to be addressed and put to shape if our graduates must compete favorably with their contemporaries from other part of the world. What are these fundamental things that need to paid attention to? Join me as we explore it together in this article.
- Change of Curricula: if we must make any progress and proffer substantial solution to the generic problem of our poor tertiary education, then great attention should be paid to our undergraduate curricula or course work. If there is anything that demands an urgent change/review in the educational sector of this country, it is our curricula, the content of our course. It is appalling and regrettable that in spite of the changes in times, and technological revolution that has brought about advancement in knowledge, change in virtually the way everything is done over the past two decades, some of us are still learning from curricula that were prepared in the 80’s. I was surprised one day during my undergraduate level, when one of my lecturers brought the notebook he used during his undergraduate studies to teach us. It is good we learn the fundamental things, however, why can’t we just be to true to ourselves and realized that time has changed. There has been a lot of advancement in knowledge across all area of studies, unprecedented advancement in science and technology, that what used to hold true then, what was the standard of approach then, have been obsolete. It is when we make this changes that we would have found the solution to our educational challenges. Our curricula need to be matched with current day reality if our tertiary education is ever going to witness any improvement.
- Practical learning as opposed to theoretical knowledge: Welcome to a country where engineering is learned and practice in the pages of the text books! A nation where greenhouse experiments are carried out in buckets under tree shed! How can graduate from this type of system ever compete favorably with his/her counterpart abroad? It is high time our government stepped up modality to encourage practical learning. What do we expect of our graduates of engineering, pure and applied sciences, agriculture and social science who never had any opportunity of doing any meaningful practical all through undergraduate level, sometimes not until final year undergraduate projects (some of which the result were cooked)? I’m sure you will expect unproductivity which gives birth unemployment. Lack of practical learning is the reason some of our graduates are said to be “not employable” and if they should be employed they need to go through some training which the employer would not want to carry out at his own expense. Therefore, if any remarkable achievement is to be attained in our tertiary education system, the government and other stakeholder need to be proactive and ensure students do realistic practices of what they learn in class room, only then will our tertiary education attain remarkable success, as a matter of fact, this is what makes tertiary institutions abroad apparently better than ours.
- Dissemination of relevant Knowledge: the knowledge shared in our tertiary institutions is not relevant enough to yield the much expected result. How do I know this? I know this from the number of graduates our tertiary institutions inject into the society every year and the challenges we are still going through in this country. What is wrong? What is the missing link that a first class graduate of Electrical/Electronic Engineering cannot detect dictate and correct a common electrical fault in the house? That a graduate of mechanical engineering can’t at first glance suggest what is wrong with a machine or automobile that has fault? It is because the knowledge they acquire in school, its content, was not tailored enough to address real life problems or challenges. How do we remedy this then? The onus lies on academic institutions to review their course work and ensure quality knowledge delivery such that will engage the students to find real life application to every subject and topic they learn. Let each lecture, assignment, project, etc. address local and national needs and challenges.
- Foster Institution-Industry Relationship: Another step in the right direction will be for the government to initiate and nurture a good relationship between her tertiary institutions and the industry. How do I mean? Outside this country, Europe and the USA most especially, their tertiary institutions have good rapport with the industries such that, they will have industry-based professionals coming to deliver lectures on some courses, and you know what that means for the student, learning from professional who have direct contact with reality of what they are teaching. Also, a relationship with industries such that students can visit the companies or organizations frequently for excursions, lectures or training is something that should be encouraged, thanks to Student Industrial Work Experience (SIWE) Scheme, it has been helpful to a large extent in this aspect but more can be done. Another aspect of the institution-industry that will be of immense benefit to our tertiary education is one in which industries relate their challenges to institutions where the academic institution will then in turn give it to her students as projects in which the solution will eventually be given to the industry for testing and implementation. What do you think of this kind of relationship? It definitely will boost the performance of our tertiary institution immensely.
- Academic Infrastructure: It is regrettable that a lot of tertiary institutions in this country does not have basic infrastructure for teaching and learning. It might surprise you to know that schools with over 5,000 students does not even have a library that can conveniently cater for just 300 students. How about the gory site of dilapidated and insufficient halls of residence we see all around? How are we going to move forward with this kind of situation? Some schools are teaching Engineering and Sciences without commensurate workshops and laboratories, even those that have, there are no useful machines or equipment in them; no wonder our engineering and sciences revolve around the pages of the text book and never yield any realistic result in terms of good inventions, innovations or discovery, we have left the inventions, discoveries and innovation for those abroad. Even with the current development in ICT with its impact across every sector especially the academic sector, some schools are still far from reality, some schools still don’t have e-library, a website and student online portals. However, I believe that if the government and the academic institutions rise up to their feet, equip our schools, build infrastructures, our story will certainly change for a better.
The solution to the poor tertiary education of this country lies with all of us both the government, private school owners, international sponsors, parents, alumni bodies and students, if they can follow the recommendations above, that is, Change/Review of Curricula, disseminate relevant knowledge, ensure practical learning, foster institution-industry relationship and improve the quality and quantity of infrastructures for school, our tertiary education will rank among one the best in the world. Even you as an individual also have a role to play; you can come up with ideas/concept that can address these challenges. These are the things the schools abroad are doing right that is making attractive for tertiary education.
We will like to hear your own views and comment on this issue. Please do well to drop them in the comment box below. Our tertiary education must be better! Our future must be secured!
What exactly is the Solution to the Poor Tertiary Education in Nigeria? New Schools or Refurbishing of Old ones?
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