The immortal words of Kofi Annan, a man of peace in a world of war, described knowledge as power, information as liberating and education as the premise of progress, in every society and every family.
Our government no longer needs a lecture on the importance of education. It already knows it.
And that is the reason our leaders send their children to the best schools abroad while the ones at home are reduced to a state of destitution. The result is inevitable in accordance with the law of action and reaction.
What we have are youths that specialise in building walls rather than bridges, weapons in places of books, corruption in place of morality and, to crown it all, ignorance in place of intellectualism and wisdom.
In the 2017 budget recently passed by the National Assembly, N455.41 billion was set aside for Education, representing about seven per cent of the total budget, as against the UNESCO 25 per cent standard. This is the least in Africa.
It should also be of interest to Nigerians to know that the Federal Government’s budget for 50 federal universities and Universal Basic Education (UBE) is N495, 456, 130, 065, representing 40 per cent of only California State University’s.
However, of this amount, only about N50 billion is earmarked for capital expenditure while the rest will be gulped by recurrent expenditure. I don’t need to tell you there is a problem.
This has not always been the case. The first university, a public university, was established in 1948 with a high standard comparing favourably with the standards in Europe and America. However, the problem came when the universities could not increase in facilities and standard, with the exponential population increase of 45 million at Independence to the present over 182 million.
This year, the population of students taking the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) is 1,736,571. The majority of the existing universities, especially the relatively cheap public ones, have to absorb the huge number of students graduating from secondary schools.
The inept, incompetent and the dishonest use of the little given out by the government by the various university managements is another problem. A cause of misery was recently established in the suspension of the duo’s of Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) Vice-Chancellors.
They must enlist the interest of the rich and selfless Nigerians by sourcing funds from donations, endowments, professional chairs, gifts, grants, among others, like the flourishing universities abroad do.
To achieve this, however, there must be a change in the attitude of Nigerians towards giving for educational purposes.
Obafemi Awolowo University,
Ile-Ife, Osun State.