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Published On: Wed, Jul 22nd, 2020

Nigerian universities must lead from within

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By Damilola Ogunojuwo

It is eminent that we begin to see that the entitlement arguments of many of our universities as a pinch of salt in the whole argument for a better educational system. There is an absolute need for a revamp of the system. The idea of the university as a means to a financial end is to be shunned off and students, as well as their lecturers, are only to become a part of the university to solve pertinent challenges affecting the nation and the world as large.
It is no doubt that the standards of most Nigerian universities are nothing to write home about. In some historical corners, it reads best to say that we have indeed seen is a leaf of growth and an overburdening flop in the reality of what we now have as the Nigerian educational system. With a population close to 200 million persons and hundreds of Universities in the nation, there is absolutely a need to look inward. The current reality of the world as regards the Covid-19 pandemic has indeed thrown big blows on the nations of the world as concerning what should count to these nations. Primarily, of many of the hits, is the fact that education and research shouldn’t be joked with. These two areas are critical parts of the nation that have to be knitted into the daily activities of the nation’s politics, culture, commerce and lifestyle.
According to Professor Ndubusi Ekekwe, the chairman of FASMICRO Group and the Lead faculty at Tekedia-Mini MBA, who in recounting his interview experience at Johns Hopkins University during his undergraduate program on Tekedia.com, it is easy to find companies inside the university’s environment. Many of these companies are billion-dollar industries. To him, the synergy that exists between the universities and these companies benefit the students, the university and the American society in terms of innovation, optimum production of human capitals and in the attainment of independence needed by the universities to thrive as a body of futuristic development. But the same cannot be written about the Nigerian university system. Instead, what we have are back-to-back strikes, defaulting and corrupt academics, many uncompleted buildings and projects, sickled laboratories and millions of graduates who aren’t fit for the demands of the national market, not to talk less of the global market and challenges.
It is eminent that we begin to see that the entitlement arguments of many of our universities as a pinch of salt in the whole argument for a better educational system. There is an absolute need for a revamp of the system. The idea of the university as a means to a financial end is to be shunned off and students, as well as their lecturers, are only to become a part of the university to solve pertinent challenges affecting the nation and the world as large. There should be urgent attention paid to the secondary educational system, that is, this level of education should be technically sufficient to carter for the independence of the mind of students while the university education should help frame the mind on a national and international scope of interest.
A dare need for an organic relationship between industries best aligned with the universities’ curriculum is to be drastically pursued yearly by the university’s administration and the industries, on the other hand, should take responsibility for the students they have the potentiality of employing via internship programs, work-study programs, conferences, seminars, industry fairs and competitions etc.
Enough of dusty hypothetical analytics, what we need in Nigeria is a practical educational system that can create the needed engagements for the Nigerian students as well as the academia in terms of entrepreneurship, innovation, invention, and critical futuristic problem forecast and management. The university administrators have to look within and outside the nations for industry investors and champions willing to partner with them in breeding the needed results in the system. The industries must pin their investments on tangible national and international problems with which the university will be challenged to provide visible solutions through their researches, inventions, innovations.
It is a cliché that almost all universities in Nigeria cannot fund researches and this account for the unhealthy state of research in the nation. But the major call is to the industries and then to philanthropists in the nation before the government is included on the list. The industries should be ready to heavily invest in properties in the universities. They should build official branches, laboratories, research hubs, initiate conferences, seminars and grants, mini-factories, and extension within the campus. This, will, in turn, inspire the Nigerian students as well as the academia to see the Nigerian university as a system that works and also appreciate their devotion to finding national and global solutions. The Nigerian government should also take kin interest in Intellectual property (IP) and patents. This governmental interest must be a futuristic and progressive type capable of securing the rights and privileges of innovators, inventors, and researchers in the nation and globally.
Damilola Ogunojuwo is a Public Affairs Analyst.

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