Education is critical to human development and its need cannot be overstressed. The sorry state of education in Nigeria is something that calls for concern. Students of LadokeAkintola University of Technology jointly owned by the State of Osun and Oyo state have been cooling off at home at a time they are supposed to be progressing in their various academic pursuits. Academic activities in LAUTECH as it is fondly called had been on hold since June 13 of 2016, when the workers of the university went on strike over non-payments of salaries. This incident once again brings to the fore the lackadaisical approach of our leaders towards education in the country. It is such a shame that our amiable governors Senator AbiolaAjimobi and OgbeniRaufAregbesola are finding it challenging to make funds available to run the University.
I thought there is a saying that “two heads are better than one”, but the case of the two governors have proven otherwise, as no visible solution to ending the strike is in view yet. No fewer than 300 students of the institution recently staged a solidarity protest, demanding for the immediate re-opening of the institution, urging the two state governors to relinquish their ownership of the University if they cannot continue to fund it.
Be that as it may, there has also been incessant agitation that Osun state should allow Oyo state take the sole ownership of the university as most of the lapses in the area of funding comes from the State of Osun’s inability to meet its financial obligation to the university. In the motion entitled: “Reviewing the Joint Ownership of LAUTECH: A Step Towards Sole Ownership by Oyo State Government”, Honorable OlawumiOladejipointed out that the Oyo State Government has been trying its best to ensure sustainability of the high standard of education which the university is known for through its commitment to fulfilling its own part of the financial obligations.
Lack of funding has been a major problem hampering the progress of Nigerian education sector. This problem is not only peculiar to Nigeria, other countries of the world too experience it. Other challenges include inadequate qualified teachers/lecturers, lack of basic facilities that are meant to enhance learning like well-equipped laboratories, comfortable lecture theatres, and good hostel accommodation amongst many others. Most of the universities, especially those belonging to the Federal and States government, are not immune to these problems. Most privately owned universities although to some extent, do not have challenges with funding as they exist to make profit and so, are breaking even. All these problems can simply be wiped out through adequate funding.
Funding is the bedrock of a sound, robust and productive educational system anywhere in the World. We are in an increasingly competitive world. We live in a time when the right training and development of our human resource is pivotal for our Nation’s development. In Nigeria for instance, apart from the present economic recession which is wrecking the economy, other factors likeweakening revenue from non-oil sectors, decreasing government revenue from the oil sector,mismanagement of economic resources, high rate of corruption in all sphere of the economy, had made it difficult for the government to generate adequate resources to fund our tertiary institutions in the Country. Most strikes being embarked upon in our tertiary institutions are traceable to one thing- lack of funding.
There is no record that the Federal Government has ever met the 26 per cent annual budgetary allocations recommended by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization for developing countries. The highest the FG has allocated to the sector is 13 per cent. From N306.3bn in 2011, to N400.15bn in 2012, to N426.53bn in 2013, to N493bn in 2014, to 492bn in 2015, to N369bn in 2016 and 398.01bn in 2017, Nigeria’s most significant sector still remains grossly underfunded. It would only require magic for a nation with over a hundred and eighty institutions, being catered for by the government to survive with these kinds of funds being allocated yearly. No wonder there has not been much improvement over the years.
For Nigeria to be a force to be reckoned with and respected among the committee of nations, the government must have a re-think on funding the nation’s education at all levels, most especially, at the tertiary level. Government at all levels must also commit vast resources towards the school infrastructures that are currently at dilapidated states so that the propagation of worthwhile knowledge can be certain. The private sector should also wade in to salvage the problem of funding in our education system. Government alone at this point may not be able to provide all the necessary funds due to dwindling revenue generation. Wealthy philanthropic individuals in the communities, states, should provide regular financial and materials assistance for sustainable educational development.
The clamor whether the state of Osun should allow Oyo state government take charge of the university is not the way forward. Such a discussion would take time and should not be coming up right now at a time when the students of the institution are supposed to be going about their academic activities. There is no guarantee to the fact that Oyo state alone can singlehandedly fund the institution, given the current state of the nation. The joint ownership arrangement should therefore continue, however, the two state governors should look for a way forward out of this current crisis rocking the university.
Thank you for reading.