Professor E. Smaranda Olarinde, FCArb., FCAI.
Ag Vice-Chancellor

Getting Nigeria’s Tertiary Education System on its Feet Again

That Nigeria’s Educational landscape has not been in the best of shapes since the deadly Covid-19 pandemic made an unwelcome incursion into the world in March 2020 is like stating the obvious. Even before the advent of Covid-19, Nigeria is a country where the yearly budgetary allocation for education is abysmally lower than the UNESCO recommendation of 26% of the annual budget of a nation, a country where its citizens think they could give birth to children and abandon such children to government to train for them.

But should this be allowed to continue before our very eyes? Are there no ways out of this unfriendly quagmire? Since no serious- minded country will allow this trend to go unchecked and since there are obvious ways (no matter how obscure) of getting out the predicament, Nigeria should explore some of the available escape routes to get to the promised land.

Part of the ways out of the present malaise is the need for Nigeria to appreciate that human wealth is far more important than economic wealth particularly as it is the former (human wealth) that drives the latter (economic wealth). This is the more reason why Nigerians should of necessity comply with all the safety measures put in place by the Federal Government and the various State Governments to curtail the pandemic and search for innovative ways to protect its people.

It is in times like this that all stakeholders in the education sector should appreciate that they have pivotal, sacred and indispensable roles to play in contributing their voices, ideas and opinions to debates on how qualitative education can be more accessible, available, affordable in Nigeria and thus transform this sectors that determine the very foundation of a nation’s future.

Besides, Nigeria has to be mindful of its present margin of errors emanating from its almost incredible data on Covid-19. As at today, Monday, May 4, the NCDC has put the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria at 2,558, with 400 treated and discharged while 87 have died from complications arising from the pandemic out of the 3,539,654 affected worldwide and 1,147,589 Recoveries. This would appear to be in tandem with President Muhammadu Buhari’s position in his message during the celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day on Sunday, May, 3, 2020 that “Nigeria has an unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news, hate news disseminated by people who use the media, particularly the digital variant”. 

But it would appear that Nigeria is driven by the Ostrich mentality on the pandemic with many still waving off the existence of the fearsome disease that has snuffed life out of millions of people globally.

With the way things are going, Nigerian Scientists have to join other Scientists in other parts of the world to find a lasting solution to the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic that has virtually grounded the country to a halt in many ways. They must be able to apply themselves like Scientists in Italy, England, Kuwait with the latter with only six deaths thus far and where the quantum of those dying from the pandemic has joyfully nose-dived. This is in tandem with the situation in Denmark and Norway which enforced the Social Distancing and Stay at home regimes. No wonder Demark has a record of 9,938 confirmed cases, 7,296 recovered cases and 503 deaths, while Norway has 7,955 confirmed cases, 7,114 recovered cases and 216 deaths as at April 30, 2020. But the story is a lot different in Sweden with 23,216 confirmed cases, 1,543 recoveries and 2,854 deaths. This may be due to the fact that there was no form of regulation and restrictions in this Scandinavian country.

The question will then arise as to where is Nigeria today with the closure of all educational institutions in the country by the Federal Government with effect from Monday, March 23, 2020, a situation which still lingers on. Naturally the traditional and conventional face-to-face of imparting knowledge has given way to a combination of the physical and the on-line educational system. This is principally to keep the students, especially those in the university level busy and insulate them from the various anti-social activities that inactivity can activate.

For us in Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, we have been engaging our students via a Virtual Classroom titled e-Learning Management System (Platform) with Voice on Internet Protocol (VOIP) capability. We have been keeping our students fully engaged during this period and continue to develop innovative ways to interact with them meaningfully.

While, recognizing the horrific effect of an occurrence that no one expected nor imagine it could happen, we might as well recognize the other side of the COVID – 19 the “positive side” as the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said on Sunday night in Abuja, that “Covid-19 has some positive sides”. One of such positive sides of the deadly virus is the migration to online educational system which Nigeria is now embracing.

Prof. E. Smaranda Olarinde, FCArb, FCAI

Ag. Vice Chancellor