THE NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM: IN SEARCH OF RELEVANCE A PAPER PRESENTED BY Professor Timothy O. Olagbemiro, FCSN, FICCON Vice Chancellor Bowen University, Iwo, Nigeria INTRODUCTION Higher education represents all forms of organized educational learning activities beyond secondary levels. It includes: Universities Polytechnics Training colleges Professional Institutes etc. Countries within the sub-saharan Africa region had their Universities founded after independence Some of these Universities include: Fourah College Universities of Ibadan, Ghana, Harare, Zimbabwe Universities of Dakar,Yaounde, Abidjan and Brazaville PECULIARITIES OF THESE EARLY UNIVERSITIES • Adequately funded • Established to produce middle-level manpower for Colonial offices and ther allied Companies Elementary and Sunday Schools Teacher Policemen, Health and Sanitary Inspectors Tax Collectors, Clerical officers, Artisans, etc. POST-COLONIAL PERIOD • Political instability • Poor funding • Increase in university enrolment • Shift in focus • Loss of relevance • Deflection of staff and potential academics overseas • Resultant effect: DETERIORATION IN EDUCATION AN OVERVIEW OF THE NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM Pre-Independence Years - 1 Between 1960 & 1969 - 5 Universities Between 1970 & 2011 - 117 Universities ANALYSIS OF OWNERSHIP FEDERAL STATE PRIVATE 36 36 45 FUNCTIONS OF THE NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM In broad terms, the 7-point contained in the National Policy on Education (2004) could be summed up into 3, to represent the expected roles the Nigerian University System is to promote, which include: Teaching Research, and Community Service AN APPRAISAL OF THE NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM • The Nigerian University System, despite the challenges confronting it, has contributed to the realization of the goals of Education in Nigeria, as contained in the 2004 National Policy on Education • A review of these challenges will assist in determining the current place of the system and its relevance in the face of emerging global realities. SOME CHALLENGES CONFRONTING THE NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM • Funding • Infrastructure • Globalisation • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Revolution • Management Style: Interactive Communication - Social and Personal Skills CHALLENGES … Cont’d Relevance of Curriculum to National Needs Developing Society that are devoid of Corruption, Poor Work Ethics and other Vices Brain Drain Undue Interference THE NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM: OF WHAT RELEVANCE? “Relevance is phenomenon that needs to be demonstrated, not just once, but on an ongoing basis” (Hague 1991) It requires all stakeholders, irrespective of ownership, to re-think the expectations of the system, in terms of output - teaching quality and research activities, and contributions to nation building, expected of a 21st century university that will compete globally. SOME CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM • Manpower training - training of competent professionals in various fields of economic and public sector management • Self-reliance through Entrepreneurship Education • Supporting knowledge-driven economy • Construction of a democratic and socially cohesive societies, etc. PERTINENT QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM • In recent years, are Nigerian graduates of quality standard? • How accessible are the degree and certificates to all Nigerians? • Are the facilities in the Nigerian Universities comparable to those obtained in developed countries? • Are Nigerian degrees sub-standard? Answers to these questions revolve round re-examining each of the problems earlier identified above. These include the following: Funding - funding of Universities should follow the UNESCO prescription of 26% Infrastructure - the environment must be made comfortable for teaching and learning Globalisation – necessary steps should be taken to enhance the international content of programmes and courses offered. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Revolution - the gap between how students live and learn must be bridged. Interactive Communication - Social and Personal Skills: Management Style - staff and students within the system need to be proactive. Academic Curriculum - it must be re- oriented towards higher order thinking and reasoning. Academic Freedom - safeguarding academic freedom will enhance intellectualism within the system. Adaptation to Change - must embrace change in all ramifications. It is of importance, that the system must be ready to display its relevance in terms of the following: • Developing of curriculum in relation to societal need • Attracting investment into the system from private organizations • Be prepared for accountability which will entail more involvement of external professional bodies and stakeholders in the validating of Nigerian university graduates, etc. In terms of production of knowledge, the Nigerian University System should note that: knowledge production and dissemination (research and teaching) are no longer self contained activities carried out in relative institutional isolation research practices of Universities and industry as well as other knowledge producers, are drawing closer together the issue of how universities will balance knowledge production with knowledge utilization is highly essential universities will need to be much reduced in size and move towards utilization of external intellectual resources universities should develop structures that promote and reward group creativity universities will have to develop different kinds of links with surrounding societies due to international competition, the era of producing graduates for local relevance alone has become obsolete massification of education has made more young people to desire university education, and the Nigerian University System should now concentrate on how to cope with this increasing demands in the face of poor funding, infrastructural deficiency and other challenges. INSTITUTIONAL MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE Universities must be vanguards of good governance and management through: Responsiveness to situations Accountability and honesty Transparency and mutual dialogue Good interpersonal relations among staff and their immediate community, etc. CONCLUSION Below are briefs on some innovative and prominent strategies gaining widespread support: Universities are primary tool for social change and development. University education is crucial as a powerful tool, in order to enhance the analysis of modern trends – be it socio-economic, political, demographic, etc. The bedrock and foundation for good governance as well as best practices is offered in Universities Universities are primary tool for social change and development. University education is crucial as a powerful tool, in order to enhance the analysis of modern trends – be it socio-economic, political, demographic, etc. The bedrock and foundation for good governance as well as best practices is offered in Universities Nigerian Universities must show relevance in research, innovation as well as evaluation. Morality and the fear of God is of utmost importance in teaching and practice of any university that will be of relevance in Nigeria’s 21st century. Universities must be catalysts and agents of change in the society. Universities should serve as good anchor for democracy and human right. It must demonstrate it in his vision, mission and philosophy and must live up to these ideals. Universities must produce graduates who should create employment. University library resources is of utmost importance. It must be well funded, equipped and fully automated. Universities must ensure its ICT unit is well organized – funding, staffing; to deliver its services to those who need it - on and off the campus. University must be INCLUSIVE NOT EXCLUSIVE - offering access to all and sundry. Universities must seek collaboration, networking and linkages both at home and overseas. Administrators ensure quality in governance – embrace “quality culture” and possess “Institutional Quality” as well as imbibe these as a “Culture Will” to create a positive environment, that leads to continuous improvement in: The quality of life of students The quality of life of staff The quality of life in the immediate community of the institution The quality of the life of stakeholders (especially parents and guardians) The quality of the campus life The quality of life of our proprietors and Council members Students must be treated with respect as future leaders Towards this end, may I encourage us to return to our various institutions with the will not to surrender, as we agree on the following: Set up university quality improvement committee. Set up quality measurement committee. Set up quality management committee. Set up university quality assurance committee. Set up Faculty and Department quality assurance committee. BOWEN EXAMPLE Owned by the Nigerian Baptist Convention Licensed in 2001 Commenced academic activities in 2002 with 506 students Commenced academic activities in 2002 with 506 students Presently has five Faculties, a College, and a Graduate School Commitment to students Integration of morality and godliness into Nigeria’s educational system. Meeting Educational and Social needs of students Developing holistic education that develops students spiritually and academically. Impacting Excellent Skills, Competencies and Christian Virtues Imbibing the spirit of Community Service Assisting students to surmount contemporary challenges and to adjust to realities of life. Faculties, College and Graduate School Faculty of Agriculture Faculty of Humanities Faculty of Science and Science Education Faculty of Social and Management Sciences Faculty of Law College of Health Sciences Postgraduate School The present student population stands at 4,553 all in residence and does not intend to exceed 5,000 students at maximum capacity As part of its vision and mission, the following are areas of its uniqueness and demonstration of the above recommendations in our own setting: Staff Recruitment – the university recruits in accordance with NUC guidelines as well as investigating the background of the prospective staff before they are employed. Students Admission – open to all prospective students irrespective of religion, gender, etc. the university conduct background check on all prospective students. Affidavit – students are made to swear to an affidavit at a court of law declaring their non- membership of secret societies Courtesy Group – set of graduates employed by the University, to monitor students’ compliance with rules and regulations of the university Quality Assurance (University & Faculty) – adequate monitoring team in place to ensure compliance with academic standard, teachings and degree of infrastructure in place.This is replicated at both Faculty and Departmental levels. Quality Management (CPDD) – the Committee of Provost, Deans and Directors ensures quality management in all academic affairs i.e. recruitment of academic staff, etc. CHAPLAINCY The Chaplaincy is one of the channels through which the university actualizes the integration of Godly values to academic attainments. Apart from ministering the normal preaching and counselling, the Chaplaincy engages the students as well as staff in the following: Discipleship programmes with sole aim of transforming the students to become better individuals. Outreaches, Revival, Baptismal Classes and Services, etc. Social Ministry of the Chaplaincy continued to render various forms of assistance to students in need. Daily devotions - the University continues to ensure that every student participates in series of devotion put in place and also receive a copy of the “Seek Daily” devotional handbook at the expense of the University. Retreat Yearly – organized on yearly basis to review the university activities in the out-going year and chart a new way forward Student Government – the Bowen Baptist Students Fellowship (BBSF) Executives serves as Students’ Government.Their election is based on general participation of students’ Students Movement – based on exeat system once in a month. Occasional confirmation are made from parents and guardians Reformation – a 2-month programme aimed at reforming, rehabilitating and re-integrating students with serious moral challenges in addition to other sanctions. SDC: Parents, Student, Staff – the Students Disciplinary Committee (SDC) comprises of parents and students representatives as well as staff of the university Staff Development and Overseas training for staff – at least 8 members of staff are sent overseas for training on yearly basis. Visitation Panel – Baptist Convention – the Proprietor (Nigerian Baptist Convention) already instituted aVisitation Panel that has visited the university prior NUC directive and the report of the Panel is being awaited. Compliance with NUC on Visitation Panel – NUC representative was also a member of the Visitation Panel instituted by the Proprietor. Linkages – the university has established linkages, in areas of academic development, with other universities and research institutes, both in Nigeria and overseas. As a new university, we also have a Strategic Plan as well as Academic Curriculum, which is reviewed from time to time.The university encourages: Accountability Flexibility and Dynamism i.e. Adaptation to change Accessibility: Stakeholders e.g. Community, Parents, Staff, Students, etc. have direct access to all the officers of the university. Thank you for your attention!