Ban public officials from sending wards to private school - Jega



Prof. Attahiru Muhammad Jega, the former INEC chairman has recommended that all public officials should be banned for the next 20 years from sending their wards to any private schools at home and abroad.

The professor of political science at the Bayero University Kano gave the recommendation when delivering a convocation lecture titled 'prospects and challenges of tertiary education in contemporary Nigeria'.

The lecture took place on Thursday evening at Muhammadu Indimi International Conference Centre, University of Maiduguri, Borno State.

The lecture is part of the activities of the 24th combined convocation ceremony of the university.

Prof. Jega was represented by Prof. Muhammadu Habu who is also a professor of political science at BUK.

While highlighting some of the challenges of tertiary education in Nigeria, Prof. Jega said the challenges are numerous but listed poor funding, poor infrastructure and facilities, poor conditions of service and a poor working environment, inadequacy of teaching staff, classrooms, laboratories and poor quality of teachers.

'Tertiary education is characterized by an input-output relationship. In that sense, it is what you put in, in terms of quantity and quality of resources, that determines what you get as output. This includes the quality of learning, leadership and so on.

'In the past, lecturing was the job of academically outstanding people. Tertiary institutions observed almost the same tradition and procedure in the selection of would-be academic staff. Vacancies were advertised, and interviews were rigorous. The selection was based on merit.

' Such a process produced very sound lecturers capable of providing the needed academic competence, quality and leadership.

'Today such a highly revered tradition has been abandoned, and the selection and appointment of academic staff have become political with virtually little if any reference to merit.

'Today, regrettably, a number of academics in Nigerian tertiary education do not deserve to be there, so much has gone wrong in terms of their academic competence, quality and leadership, besides their moral dispositions,' he explained.

According to him, tertiary education sector cannot fulfill its mandate and actualize its potentials unless it is organized and made to function according to global best practices.

'This can only be possible, as a first step, if they are adequately funded. Objectively speaking, the condition of most tertiary education institutions in Nigeria in terms of facilities and the right caliber of lecturers is pitiable, most of these institutions lack adequate quantity and quality of academic staff,' he added.

While giving some recommendations to the aforementioned challenges, Prof. Jega said 'to incentivize public officials to pay attention to improving public educational institutions, all public officials should be banned for the next 20 years from sending their wards to any private school at home and abroad'.

He also said that there is need for a comprehensive, dispassionate and thorough evidence-based analysis of the state of Nigerian tertiary education sector as a basis for drawing up an appropriate strategic plan with short, medium and long term goals and objectives of its reform and revitalization so as to bring it up to speed and keep it on par with the best in the world.

HRH Sidi Bage, the Emir of Lafiyan Barebare, Nasarawa State and also the newly appointed Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Prof. Aliyu Shugaba, Vice Chancellor of the university, professors, students, among others graced the occasion.

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