12 September 2012

Nigeria: NUC's Alarm Over Foreign Universities


The deteriorating quality of our education is gradually drawing the attention of policymakers, as can be seen in the efforts being made by the federal and state governments to sponsor brilliant candidates to acquire postgraduate studies in foreign countries. It is reasoned that those sponsored for such programmes will help to steer the ship of state in their chosen careers in the future. Such scholarship now comes in different names.

However, Prof Julius Okojie, executive secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, recently stated that the foreign universities which some state governments have chosen to train their scholarship beneficiaries are substandard. His statement has thrown the whole process into confusion and wild controversy. Okojie specifically mentioned Ukraine as the host of such low-quality education. Interestingly, Kano and Osun, the states at the centre of this controversy, have fired back at the NUC boss, insisting that his declaration was meant to tarnish their efforts genuinely aimed at uplifting the quality of education in their respective states. Kano has gone further to take newspaper spaces to counter the NUC helmsman's statement, averring that its ministry of higher education had done a thorough check and "is ready to make further improvements in making this laudable and unstoppable programme a high success". The state noted that since it was sending candidates to study in Jordan, Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, Malaysia, India, China, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, it is not possible for 70 per cent of the beneficiaries to go to Ukraine, the country the NUC boss gave a thumbs-down in his pronouncement.

We are concerned about this argument at this time. Nigeria is already battling with low-quality education in our low-quality environment with some of our universities rated as glorified secondary schools at the international arena. Perhaps, this is what has prompted Prof Okojie to raise the alarm. However, his claim must be substantiated in order to be seen as valid, if he would like to be taken seriously.

He should do his homework. If he has his facts, he should choose the appropriate venue such as the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities. The NUC, the organisation which he manages, should send the list of licensed or accredited foreign institutions to states and other agencies that may be desirous of sponsoring candidates abroad. That is when his position on such important issue will be acknowledged.

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