By Folarin Samson
Nigeria is full of young and brilliant minds. But they are wasting away due to poor academic programmes, dysfunctional educational structures, and unstable academic calendar resulting from recurrent strike actions. Ohuabunwa’s success abroad seriously indicts the handlers of our educational sector of negligence and gross incompetence.
Why should a four year academic programme take eight to ten years? What of the issue of immoral compromises for grades, and the general problem of lack of adequate state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure especially for those in the peculiar fields of science and engineering.
These frustrating learning conditions have been killing our potential and few lucky Ohuabunwas and Anthonys are fleeing the country on a regular basis for rock-solid education.
The danger in this is that the more our youths exit the country to improve their academic profile, the more the country’s intellectual capital continues to deplete. We seem to have a bigger problem here. We have lost faith in the ability of our own structures and institutions to deliver, so, we send our resources abroad. We export our crude oil to be refined in the US because our refineries are in a state of disrepair. We do the same in education. Instead of providing the necessary facilities and buying or borrowing technology to upgrade our tertiary institutions, we send our best brains abroad to study, hoping they would return. Of course, the best ones are retained by the institutions. Worse still, we try to create more mushroom local institutions to continue to churn out charlatans into the intellectual community.
The clincher here is if government does not take a radical step at stemming this tide, then we shall soon fall off the precipice. Capitalist Europe will continue to exploit our ignorance and entice our youths with visas and scholarships. And there will be a massive wealth transfer both in fiscal and professional expertise.
According to the United Nations, an African professional working in the US contributes about 150,000 dollars per year to the US economy. Money does not equate wealth and so this is a loss on a relative ground.
Another recent survey by the World Bank shows that African universities are exporting a large percentage of their graduating manpower to the United States. In a given year, the World Bank estimates that 70,000 skilled Africans immigrate to Europe and the United States. That’s the disaster!
Our private universities are nowhere near enviable standards and that is why many of them do not even come close in national ranking. The National Universities Commission must keep pruning like it did recently when it suspended the operational licence of seven private universities.
We must begin a process of repairing our structures and institutions to match world standards. The full implementation of the agreement between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government will be a step in the right direction.
Also we need to review our academic curricula to compare with international best practices. Junk and extraneous courses must be purged from our syllabus for our graduates to be sufficiently trained in their area of specialisation.
It is pathetic that students are saddled with distracting courses with no relevance to their calling. A redirection for more focus on research work and practicals will provide considerable fillip to our learning than outdated and soporific theories with no application.
Our academics need a wake-up call. It is high time we stopped the frequent disruption of academic activities with strike actions. It weakens confidence in our institutions. We are also in dire need of a government that does not need to be threatened before it honours mutual agreements. And now that our professors have the latitude of 70 years retirement, it is hoped they would impart more into our institutions and not lapse into the senility of old age.
If the likes of Mr. Aliko Dangote could invest in our education, we would be the better for it. If our rich men could be more proactive about the coming generation, then Nigerian youths will not think of schooling in Ghana or South-Africa. If the Federal Government could pay more attention to our education, then we’ll not be losing our Ohuabunwas, Anthonys and Emeagwalis. Many more of these brilliant chaps are about to take the next flight to Europe. Let’s create a good environment for learning and stop frustrating the hope of this nation.
By Folarin Samson