Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, says President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is fully committed to fixing the challenges in Nigeria’s education sector.
Mamman, represented by Rakiya Ilyasu, a director at the ministry of education, spoke on Wednesday in Abuja at a symposium aimed to boost open science awareness among primary stakeholders, university leaders, librarians and directors of Information Communications Technology.
Speaking on the theme ‘Advancing Open Science and Collaboration: The Role of Stakeholders’, Mamman said: “Higher education is an education designed to produce manpower for the social, economic and technological development of the country.
“It is however, unfortunate that our higher education sub-sector is plagued with many challenges such as inadequate funding, corruption, inadequate infrastructural facilities, shortage of academic staff, strike actions, brain-drain, poor research, weak governance and insecurity, among others.
“You will agree with me that, the higher education landscape in Nigeria requires a total overhaul so that it can effectively put Nigeria universities and other levels of tertiary institutions at par with others around the globe.
“The current administration under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, fully understands the enormity of challenges of Nigeria’s higher education and fully prepared to confront them headlong.
“It is against this backdrop that Mr President has promised to improve the education budget to 25 percent.
“We need to understand that before we can harness our human resources, we need to be sure of what we need to do to fill in the gaps that have, over the years, inexplicably pulled us back.
“We need to know the extent at which we have met contemporary demands of tertiary education globally and if it is not sufficient, how to address them.
“I passionately appeal to the roadmap committee of the Vice-Chancellor of Nigerian Universities to provide the committee with quality memorandum of how our education sub-sector can be competitive in all ramifications.”
Yakubu Ochefu, Secretary-General of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) who was represented by Abdullahi Musa, Vice-Chancellor of Kaduna State University (KASU), said the symposium would help to uncover innovative ways towards research development in educational institutions.
On his part, Omo Oaiya, chief strategy officer of the West and Central African Research Education Network (WACREN), said the symposium would be of immense benefit to the country.
“Nigeria can benefit from this open science in the production of research by the different groups. This will create conversation towards resolving problems associated with research programmes.
“Stakeholders will come up with the kind of roadmap that will describe the work to deliver the goals in terms of producing community-driven infrastructure.
“Though the government needs to help, but also, the community can do a little bit more with the support of WACREN.
“It will further improve efforts of stakeholders to take all of the ideas to campus level and connect them with their communities,” Oaiya said.
Nigeria’s public universities have seen repeated disruptions over the years owing to striking lecturers protesting multiple grievances including funding deficits, poor conditions of service, and infrastructural decay.
Academic staff in public universities embarked on their 16th strike in 23 years which lasted for eight months in 2022.
In recent weeks, federal varsities have been raising their fees over what stakeholders describe as a sustainability crisis.
This has caused a public outcry and student protests across campuses nationwide.
Among the varsities that have raised their fees are the University of Lagos (UNILAG), the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) in Borno, the University of Jos (UNIJOS), and the University of Benin (UNIBEN) in Edo.
Others are Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) in Bauchi, Obafemi Awolowo University (AOU) in Osun, and Usmanu Danfodiyo University (UDUS).