Our tertiary institutions should be self-funding
There have been several complaints in the press about inadequate funding of our tertiary institutions one of such complaints is the Editorial in the Guardian Newspaper of Monday 18th March 2019. Several suggestions have been made that allocation of funds to the publicly owned institutions should be drastically increased. However I believe that making all tertiary institutions to be self funding is one of the best ways of meeting this challenge. The main feature of our formal education system in the country today is the great effort being made to teach a lot of our youths to the tertiary level only for them to become unemployed or worse, unemployable. Neither can they become self-employed. They then become frustrated unemployed graduates roaming our streets looking for work, which does not exist because they should have created the work in the first place. They then resort to pursuing diabolical acts such as advanced fee fraud “419”, drug addiction, secret cults and armed robbery which is now rapidly establishing itself as an unofficial formula for “income distribution” in the country. The emphasis of the system is on awarding Degrees so that a Degree holder can then go into the market to search for suitable jobs. This system is a left over from the eve of Independence era when the departing British colonialists were looking for suitable manpower to whom to hand over the administration of the country. That era is long gone and the priority now should be how to raise the quality of life of our citizens to tolerable standards.
Our present educational system does not equip our youths with any positive value or moral. They find it hard to see any path to follow in the behaviour of the larger society which will enable them to develop their God given talents to the best of their ability and reap just rewards. There is no national ideology to fire their ambition and energy and propel them to great heights in the various fields of human endeavour. In a situation where there are no straightforward or virtuous ways of doing things properly it is difficult to determine how, when and with what one can achieve an ambition or meet a target. This has led to many youths finding it difficult to differentiate between what is right and wrong, thereby getting engulfed by secret clubs (cults) especially in our educational institutions at virtually all levels.
Incidentally, these problems did not exist in the traditional societies we had prior to colonisation by the British. In traditional societies, education, which was by means of apprenticeship, was regarded as a tool to enable man to acquire his basic necessities of life within the society with minimum effort and to the best possible quality within the society concerned. The inability to combine practical training with knowledge acquired in today’s formal education system is the root cause of unemployment in our society. In fact this is why funding has become a problem because the present system is irrelevant, saps the resources of the individual and the society without yielding any positive result. It is like pouring water into a woven basket! No reasonable society should allow such a system to exist. Hence the need to now emphasise that education not only means acquisition of knowledge and skills but also ability to apply such knowledge and skills acquired to the sustenance of life. Our present formal educational system is doing exactly the opposite of this desirable objective.
Furthermore, we inculcate negative values in our youths seeking admission to secondary and tertiary educational institutions by depriving them of their first choices through Federal character, ethnic balancing, quota system, catchment area or any other reason that will promote mediocrity over merit. For instance in 2001, ten year olds who had passed prescribed competitive examinations, attended interviews, were offered admission into the Federal Government Colleges of their choice, paid the necessary fees, were finally denied admission on the day they were requested to resume! They were told that others who did not bother to seek admission through the normal process had taken their places. The issue was partially resolved by eventually granting admission to the two sets of pupils to avoid litigation. One can only imagine the overcrowding and numerous problems resulting from this decision.
Education is a great facilitator, which makes it possible for an individual to survive and obtain his basic necessities of life with minimum effort. In order to make it possible for education to be made available to all our citizens, as they desire, some fundamental changes must be made in our present system of formal education. Firstly, we should adopt the principle that education should be an integral part of the production system of our society similar to the case in the traditional society when the apprenticeship system was the method of formal education.
Secondly, tertiary educational institutions such as Universities and Polytechnics must not only be self-funding but must also contribute to the national revenue like any other productive organisation in the country. If we adopt these two principles, the question of how to fund education at any level will be eliminated. Furthermore, all educated citizens will have the capability to be profitably self-employed or become creators of employment opportunities. The question of having frustrated unemployed graduates roaming our streets will therefore not arise. If we adopt this system of education and strive to improve on acceptable national standards we shall become a nation where things work and thus create avenues for people to be straightforward in whatever they do and still thrive and prosper. Emphasis will shift from diabolical pursuits such as advanced fee fraud “419”, drug addiction, secret cults and armed robbery.
The aim of education should be to make educated people to be self-employed or creators of employment opportunities.
If the new approach suggested herein is adopted for the organisation of formal education, new curriculum for studies under a formal education system, different from what obtains in the country at the moment, will have to be developed at all levels. At present it is only the training of medical doctors at the tertiary level that combines both theory and practice. There is a need to completely change the curriculum for our formal education system particularly in the fields of engineering and computers. This is because of the roles these areas of knowledge have played and are playing in improving the quality of life of those people who have mastered them. In the case of engineering for instance, there is no reason why Universities and Polytechnics with Faculties of Engineering should not have “production centres”, which will be described below. This will allow their students to demonstrate ability to apply the knowledge they are acquiring, through the construction of real life projects, machines and equipment before they graduate, as in the case of medical students. In such an institution, students will build their own hostels; provide their own water and electricity; collect and dispose of all refuse; maintain all these facilities, telecommunication systems, vehicles, etc. for their University community and the public at large. Similarly students undergoing studies in computers will not only develop software but also will maintain and build computers before they graduate. In this way the educational system will be part of the productive economic system that is baking the national cake. Once this system is accepted, it can be extended to students in other Faculties such as those for Agriculture and Petroleum, so that for instance, a University may own and directly operate an oil field. Students going through this system of education will therefore become after graduation, self-employed and employers of others instead of becoming people unemployed or unemployable and seeking for jobs, which do not exist because they should have created the jobs in the first place. Under the proposed system they will become happy and contented citizens, able to contribute to the safety and development of their societies instead of getting frustrated with their society and pursing diabolic acts such as advanced fee fraud, armed robbery, kidnapping, assassination of innocent citizens, drug addiction, etc. and forming secret clubs for the performance of these acts.
To be continued tomorrow
•Oseni wrote from Lagos
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