With the declaration of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as the winner of the recent presidential election, various stakeholders in the education sector have expressed their views on what they expect from him.
This is not unexpected given the prime place of education in the development of a nation and the various challenges besetting the sector.
It is no news that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, put the figure at over 20 million, while the federal government is saying it is about 13 million.
The incessant industrial actions by university teachers, and non-teaching staff, the poor state of facilities in schools, poor funding of the sector, among others are matters of concern to the stakeholders.
University lecturers’ desires
The National President of the Congress of University Academics, CONUA, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, said he expects better welfare packages for lecturers among others. “What we earn now is not enough to take anybody home. There should be an improvement on that. Also, there should be policies that will ensure uninterrupted academic calendar. A situation whereby lecturers and university workers are forced to go on strike and thereby disrupting the system is not good. It doesn’t allow for collaboration with foreign lecturers.
“There is no doubt that the sector should be made better to attract foreign students and lecturers like we used to have in those days. Nigeria is losing out in the global education market. We can earn foreign exchange by attracting foreign students. All over the world, foreign students pay higher than indigenes and universities and even governments make money from that.
“We can attract foreign students when our schools are well-equipped and the standard is high. We already have the required manpower, it is only the facilities that we need to improve on. The new leader must not pay lip service to education. He cannot afford to pretend that all is well,” he stated.
The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, Comrade Anderson Ezeibe, told Vanguard that there should be a change of attitude towards education by the incoming administration. “The outgoing administration has not shown any good attitude to education at all. It is very unfortunate. Over two years was lost to strike by tertiary institutions in the country. The level of funding was also poor. The attention given to education must improve. We don’t want any lip service paid to the sector. The issues are in the public domain and properly documented. The incoming administration must hit the ground running,” he said.
Speaking for parents, the National President of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, opined that special focus must be placed on education. “He should focus attention on education as it is the bedrock of the development of any country. Without quality education, other sectors such as health would suffer. We expect the new president to focus on education. The rot is too great to be ignored.
“We also expect a lasting solution to the issue of strikes by university teachers and workers. The issues involved must be resolved and no recurring of such again. Basic education must also not be neglected. It is the products from that level that go to tertiary institutions and once they are not good, there is little that can be done to remedy the situation at higher levels. Teachers must be motivated and infrastructure improved on.”
The Secretary General of the Nigeria Union if Teachers, NUT, Dr Mike Ene, noted that any nation that hopes to be competitive globally should not toy with education and the welfare of teachers. “If we want to move forward, we must take education serious. Budgetary allocations to the sector must be real and let there be massive recruitment of teachers . Teachers are the heart of the sector. Some states have not recruited teachers for about 10 years now. Public university workers must also be taken care of.
“We must guide against these recurring strikes by university workers and teachers. When they go on strike, like we had in the recent past, the negative effects of such strikes are felt many years after and they are not good for us as a nation. Also, every child must go to school. Education is a right of every citizen. It is the high illiteracy level in the country that makes some people to and kill without thinking twice. We also don’t expect the continuation of abduction and killing of teachers and students by miscreants. That is unknown to our society. Those behind that are people who want to discourage people from acquiring formal education.
The Southwest Coordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Comrade Adejuwon Emmanuel Olatunji, expressed optimism that Tinubu would live up to expectations. “Firstly, I would like to congratulate the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on his electoral victory. We want to say that he should prioritize the education sector as well as other sectors. We have seen and heard his antecedents and we believe he can do better than what we have now. It has always been a kind of anthem for politicians who are being elected into office to promise heaven on earth before election and later change once they attain power. But We believe in him and we want him to make a change in all sectors and the country as a whole.
“He should formulate policies that would make people comfortable, address unemployment and find ways whereby students graduating get jobs easily. He must also address the issue of strikes in schools. He should also make education affordable and reduce tuition fees in all institutions which will make our students to enjoy education the way people did in the olden days.”