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‘Nigerian varsities can compete with foreign institutions if well funded’

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Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Prof. Lilian Salami, yesterday, declared that inadequate budgetary allocation for the education sector and poor funding of public universities are major challenges to the nation’s education system.

Addressing journalists in Benin City ahead of the institution’s 50th Founders Day Anniversary, Salami said with adequate funding, the country’s educational system could compete effectively with foreign universities.

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She added that the UNIBEN in its 50 years of existence had trained and graduated over 350,000 men and women of integrity, who have excelled at home and in The Diaspora in their various fields and disciplines, and could compete with graduates of foreign universities globally.

She lamented that Nigerians were quick at looking at other countries and using them as a yardstick, adding that most of the foreign countries people use as yardsticks actually went through the same process the nation’s universities are going through now.

“If you are in my own generation, and you look back, you will agree with me that we have done a lot since then. The view of most persons is that most foreign universities have actually done better, but we are not doing badly in the country.

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“But at the same time, Nigerian universities can do much better. Part of the problem that has brought us to where we are in Nigeria is the fact that funding has continued to be the problem of our development.

“Otherwise, Nigeria’s educational system would be comparable to that of other parts of the developed world. I can say that whatever you contribute in terms of demanding quality, the input must be commensurate to it to achieve the best,” she stated.

Salami explained that at UNIBEN, professors and lecturers could measure up anywhere in the world, lamenting that sometimes, the universities lacked equipment and tools to make them work efficiently

“I think that’s where our issues are. Once our universities are adequately funded, I think we should be able to get to where others that we envy today are. I am sure in the very near future, we should get there.

“UNIBEN has produced over 350,000 graduates and they are well placed in their various fields of endeavour. Some of them are chief executive officers (CEOs) of big establishments and trail blazers. We have produced ministers, governors, and others.

“In fact, the University of Benin tops the number of employees in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector. We have done very well in trying to achieve the mission and vision of the University. I think we are doing quite well,” she added.

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