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“Nigeria’s tertiary education system has been designed to fail comprehensively” – President, NAL

Professor Francis Egbokhare, the President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) has said the repeated failures the nation’s tertiary education system witnesses is largely based on its inability to respond to the current realities in the society.

Egbokare made this submission while delivering a keynote lecture on “The Nature of State, National Ideology, Modelling and Practice of Higher Education in Nigeria,” during a virtual intellectual discourse on Reimagining Higher Education in Africa organised by the Graduate Research Clinic (GRC) on Sunday, February 28th.

He said Nigeria’s tertiary education still replicates the colonial education system that leads to segregation, stating that the ideology of the nation’s tertiary education system “must reference the nature of the state.” It is with this ideology that education would enhance the growth and productivity in the country, Egbokhare explained.

According to him, numerous problems bedevil tertiary education in the country. One, he attributes to “inadequate philosophical clarity.” He also said the current education practice is anachronistic “and does not see to the needs of the current generation.”

The academic lamented the fact that Nigeria aspires to be an AI-driven economy, but the education system is not designed to achieve such aspiration. “The economy does not support the kind of education we are practising,” he lamented.

Over the years, inadequate funding of universities has been seen as a cog in the wheel of tertiary education progress in the country. Professor Egbokhare, however, said funding of universities is no longer the primary issue that affects the tertiary education system. “Funding does not show the depth of (education) problems we have,” he averred. He attributed the decline of tertiary education in the country, among other causes, to the “lack evaluation or performance management indices.” “What we are seeing are individuals who are using whatever ideas they have to deal with the (education) problems,” he said.

For the tertiary education system to achieve successes, Egbokhare recommends that its ideology must be clearly stated so that it embraces philosophical clarity—in a way that the goals tertiary education set to achieve must be appropriate and correlating to the existence of the country.

He also said the business model should be applied to education. Student mobility should be allowed for tertiary education to thrive, such that students will be allowed to come to institutions where they are assured of the best education, Egbokhare added.

He called for the integration of cultural and infrastructural assets in the nation’s tertiary education system to enhance performance level.

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