The Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde has promised to revisit a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed between the government and the Faculty of Education of the University of Ibadan, UI, about 10 years ago.
Governor Makinde made the promise while delivering an address as the Special Guest of honour at the 34th Conference of the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, AVCNU in Ibadan, the state capital.
According to him, the purpose of the MoU is to strengthen the inspection of curriculum delivery in public primary and secondary schools in the State.
“The plan was to see members of the faculty conduct independent inspection of teachers in the discharge of their duties. This is expected to improve quality assurance in public schools in the State. I would like to have that MoU revisited,” he stated.
Governor Makinde said that ”Education in Oyo State is nothing to smile about as the quality is low and the quality assurance monitoring mechanism, weak.”
He noted that the record number of out-of-school children was over 400,000 with the student to teacher ratio three times higher than the ideal.
Tackling the problem
The Governor said the first step taken when he got into office was to look at the major obstacle and find a pragmatic solution by removing the barrier.
While agreeing that the quality of graduates produced yearly by universities could be a lot better, Governor Makinde said that the universities were not to be blamed, as the quality of their products is commensurate with the materials they are supplied with.
He stated, “We cannot be feeding universities with substandard raw materials and expect them to miraculously manufacture high quality finished products…If we want better products, we have to up the ante and feed our universities with higher quality materials.”
Increasing education fund
The Governor promised to spend at least 10% of the annual budget on education and increase it annually over the years until it matches UNESCO standards of 15-20%.
He legitimised the role of the universities as watchdogs, asking them to hold his administration accountable as the Oyo State people would too.
“While you are watching us, we shall be watching you too…When we hold one another to higher standards, we will be well on our way to getting more qualitative output,” he stressed.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, UI, Professor Idowu Olayinka said that Nigerian University System was not evenly balanced in subscription and highlighted some of the challenges faced by it.
He stated that the system currently has a total of 174 universities, comprising 43 Federal universities, 52 State universities and 79 private universities, with diverse problems, depending on the mode of ownership.
Professor Olayinka described the public universities as being much cheaper and consequently over-subscribed, with about 94% of the nation’s undergraduates enrolled, while the private universities, which do not receive financial support from government, tend to be costlier and largely under-subscribed, with the remaining 6% enrolled.
“The public universities are characterised by unstable academic calendar largely on account of incessant disagreements between staff unions and management/proprietor. This has made our public universities largely unattractive to foreign students,” he said.
Professor Olayinka however expressed optimism that the outstanding issues would be resolved in earnest so that the academic calendar would not be disrupted further with indefinite strike actions by the staff unions in the universities.
He further advocated greater synergy with organs of government such as the Federal Character Commission and the Office of the Head of Service, in staff recruitment.
“We certainly can do much better than is currently the case in the spirit of university autonomy. One can only hope that this Conference will afford us an opportunity to share ideas on how to cooperate and collaborate for greater efficiency on our various campuses,” Professor Olayinka added.
The theme of the Conference is ‘Prioritising Quality Assurance: Teaching, Research and Professional Conduct.’