Sustainability of higher education institutions (HEIs) in Nigeria: challenges and prospects
Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro (TETFund)
Challenges confronting HEIs
Brain drain is a very serious issue in Nigeria. The reasons why some Nigerian academics run overseas have a lot to do with inadequate incentives for research and other conditions of service. The research agenda of advanced countries dominate world research. Research and Development is useful only to the extent that the product has sufficient local contents that make it beneficial to the immediate society. The positive side is realized from those who still keep touch with their colleagues at home and giving them the benefits of being in touch with latest happenings in global R&D, and contributing articles to local journals.
Inadequacy of Training
The positive side is realized from those who still keep touch with their colleagues at home and giving them the benefits of being in touch with latest happenings in global R&D, and contributing articles to local journals. Although there are no empirical records to show that foreign trained professionals in science and technology in Nigeria perform better than their home trained counterparts, there are evidences however to show that they are exposed to better training facilities in foreign universities. The training that they receive abroad may not be entirely relevant to domestic concerns and may be partly dysfunctional in some ways.
Breeding of « Educated Unemployment »
“Educated unemployment” in this discussion refers to unemployment among the educated population. Educated unemployment is a direct result of an increased graduate from educational institutions who largely lack the requisite skills to be self-reliant or get absorbed into the organized private sector. Higher education institutions produce, on annual basis, graduates in large numbers that do not have access to employment, principally because of the nature of education they receive.
Diploma Disease Syndrome
The ‘Diploma Disease Syndrome’ was coined by Dore (1976) when she argued that schools in developing countries were dominated by the goals of certificates and qualifications as passports to the world of modern sector jobs. The consequence of this domination was an education of such low quality that even the successful products of the HEIs could not contribute effectively to economic productivity and innovation.
The struggle for certificates has contributed considerably to unemployment among the graduates. Thus, learning is reduced to acquisition of certificates. The result is the educational institutions producing more graduates in those fields than the job markets could absorb. This, in itself, is a serious existential treat to Higher Education Institutions.
The question of Quality
There is no gain-saying the fact that Lewin’s list above are all prevalent in Nigeria: jobs are scarce, qualifications are used as a criterion for jobs, professional infrastructure decays, and the examination system is heavily biased towards the testing of cognition.
Research and Development as panacea for sustainable higher education in Nigeria
The Research Infrastructure
TETFund realizes the need to develop research facilities in the tertiary institutions and substantial effort is being put into this. Although, substantial resources for research are concentrated in the tertiary institutions, especially in the universities in Nigeria, the government, through some other relevant agencies has also devoted funds to non-university research. We are also in the process of setting up a Standing Committee on R&D that will properly coordinate research and identify areas that require special attention for the purposes of funding.
Nigeria’s higher education institutions and the global knowledge system
The world is increasingly tending towards globalized knowledge intensive economies. In this age, science and technology have become the key factors in development. The International Knowledge system is at present being controlled by the industrialized nations. Nigeria needs to join the race, if we are to attain economic independence.
We at TETFund, are convinced that Research and Development will not only contribute to the development of a mature and productive academic system in Nigeria, but also to scientific innovations that will be useful to domestic industries and technology. In the long run, it will serve as catalyst to the realization of the much desired national industrial growth, employment generation and poverty alleviation. We also understand that the development of an effective R&D system is multispectral, as it normally involves several groups, individuals and sectors.
Galvanizing the Higher Education Institutions for Research & Development: our plans in TETFund
In Nigeria, basically due to the declining quality of our research infrastructure, i.e. the absence of modern scientific laboratories where cutting edge research can be conducted, declining quality of the academia, the lack of incentive for publications, and dearth of funding, research activities have been at a very low level. As parts of efforts to transform the higher educational system in Nigeria, various reforms were carried out by the national government. One of the mosts significant was the establishment of TETFUND.
It is an intervention agency set up to provide supplementary support to all levels of public tertiary institutions with the main objective of using funding along side project management for the rehabilitation, restoration and consolidation of tertiary education in Nigeria in order to full fillits mandates as established by law. TETFUND gets its funds from the two percent education tax paid from the assessable profit of companies registered in Nigeria. The National Research Fund was specifically introduced to deliberately promote the evolution of a knowledge-based, globally competitive, R&D driven socio-economic development process in Nigeria.
The indispensability for the establishment of a national research and development foundation
Nothing clearly depicts the weakness in driving R and D in Nigeria as the absence of a national platform for the regulation and strengthening of R and D.
My call for coordinated efforts can be easily achieved if a National R&D foundation is established in Nigeria. Such a foundation when established by law, shall promote an effective interface between research centers or tertiary institutions, government and the private sector, especially the industrial subsector of the economy. The national R and D Foundation should be tasked, among other things to, promote, monitor and regulate the mandatory commitment of say 1% of the annual budget from all registered entities (both profit and non-profit) for the purpose of R and D which a law must define its channeling, utilization and enforcement to the mutual benefit of the researchers and the private sector
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