Leaders, ASUU, partly responsible for Nigeria’s education failure

The lopsided university system and failure of leaders in the education sector including ASUU, is responsible for the failure of Nigerian education system.

The Executive vice Chairman, Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP)Ibadan,
Dr Tunji Olaopa, made this assertion while delivering a lecture on the topic “All Works and No Play: Leisure, Excellence and Educational Values for Development” to mark the 60th anniversary of the Senior Staff Club of the University of Ibadan.

Olaopa, a retired federal Permanent Secretary, said although governance and political leadership will
take 70 percent responsibility for the crisis in the education sector, “the university
system is precariously liable for the substantial part of 30 percent remaining”.

His words: “There are two indicators that demonstrate this failure.The first is the fact that Nigeria is now effectively a certificate society. This fact has so many implications. One, certification is hinged around university education. And the universities have now been reduced to theoretical laboratories that are often out of sync with external realities.

“Two, the fixation with university education has emasculated other tertiary level providers. The polytechnic, monotechnics and colleges of education have been left to rot and therefore unable to fulfill their specific objectives in articulating the different dimensions of functional education.

“If we do a count of the Ministers of Education in Nigeria as vital though not the dominant indicator (as there are numerous intervening variables), we would discover that the bulk were academics.

“In a sense, one can then allege that academics with their Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) collaborators have not provided required leadership in the education sector, and in overplaying the preeminence of the university, they have precariously contributed in attenuating the noble objectives of say the 6-3-3-4 system which if had been well implemented, with polytechnics, monotechnics, colleges of education, technical colleges and vocational institutions given their pride of place, our country would not have been in the mess she is today.

“Evidence of that leadership failure in the education sector is the large army of the unemployed and the unemployable graduates that flood the society yearly without any hope of gainful employment. This predicament ties in with the negative implications of Nigeria being a certificate society that privileges university education.”

According to Olaopa, the failure continues to affect the country’s development with the implication of certificates but unemployed and unemployable graduates dominating the Labour market.

He said: “Certification without substance must inevitably lead to a state of affair where graduates could not fit into the nation’s human capital requirement for national development. This therefore complicates Nigeria’s development initiative because there is a large number of the unemployed who have been “educated” but are not competent or capable of doing anything.

“If I am asked, I will say bluntly and plainly that the joy that comes naturally with learning and being educated has been emasculated by the unhealthy understanding of what education entails. For most people, and rightly so, the end of education has turned out to be to provide a meal ticket by which a graduate can make ends meet and not so much again, learning and character.

“The distinct objective of education, which is to condition the mind and character of the educated in manner that produce a solid personality which has achieved self-realization, and whose self-development trajectory can be counted upon in the building of a nation hasbeen lost, and the nation is paying dearly for it through the cultural anomie and values disorientation that has eaten deep into the nation’s social fabric and requires no elaboration.”

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