28 November 2010

Nigeria: Proposed Budgetary Allocation for Education Meagre -Babalakin

Abuja — Agitations by stakeholders in the education sector for national government to commit UNESCO's stipulated 26 percent budgetary allocation to the education system have been noted to be inadequate to bail out the system from its current crisis.

The observation came just as Chairman of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors, Wale Babalakin, spoke at a 3-day retreat for chairmen and council members of Nigeria universities in Abuja. He noted that even if the benchmark of 26 percent minimum allocation stipulated by the United Nation's Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was to be offered the sector, it will still not put the sector in the proper perspective where it could tackle the challenges bedeviling it.

Babalakin told the gathering that also comprised chairmen of the FG/ASUU implementation committee that after personal research on what it takes to train a graduate from the university he came to the realisation that the cost implication was still much on the higher side.

His words: "even if 26 percent of our national budget was to be made available, which am doubtful may not be allocated to the sector alone, it will not effectively take care of the financial needs.

"We have not created enough opportunity in the area of funding but the parameter for getting there will be created. Every University council ought to find ways to generate funds for the development and sustenance of the university.

"A time has come to address the issue of education fundamentally, debate them dispassionately so as to take the sector to a greater height and return it to what it used to be in the past," he reiterated.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa'I, has said the granting of autonomy to universities in 2007 gave a lot of leverage to University Governing Councils which include the composition and tenure of Council as well as the functions of Council in the disbursement of University funds, appointment, discipline and removal of Vice-Chancellors.

Noting that monthly subventions from government were inadequate to fully run the institutions, she said the various council heads ought to seek alternative means of attracting funds particularly through endowments, sales of patents and research breakthroughs to industries.

"Through consultancies or internally-generated revenue funds can be sourced. On the issue of institutional accreditation, we encourage the University Councils to support the Management in ensuring that many programmes receive full accreditation.

"They ought to strive to take programmes with interim accreditations to the next level. Programmes accreditations should no longer be treated as mere window dressing the way some institutions made it to seem.

"Governing Councils should insist that new programmes are not established prior to the approval of National Universities Commission (NUC)."

She tasked the participants to deliberate on these challenges and assist government in proffering long-term solutions to them.

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