Former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Peter Okebukola, has suggested that Nigerian universities have the capacity to provide at least 40 per cent solution to the country’s challenges and attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Okebukola postulated this while delivering the year’s convocation lecture of Babcock University, Ogun state. He said the pathway to achieving this feat was by strengthening the research capacities of lecturers through in-country and international training experiences, better equipping research laboratories and workshops, and providing sizeable grants for quality research.
In his paper titled: “From Tangible to Virtual Reality: Redefining the Nigerian University System,” Okebukola said if these enablers are not in place, people should not accuse the institutions of not responding to the nation’s needs. The former NUC chief said university education in Nigeria needs quick-fix intervention, based on gap analysis conducted in the last two months by his group of scholars.
According to him, if the foundation of Nigeria’s education system is strengthened through better quality primary and secondary schools, many of the challenges being faced at the university level would cease. Okebukola said strengthening basic education translates to getting all the out-of-school children enrolled. “It means resourcing our primary and secondary schools to better deliver quality education. This includes engaging quality teachers in the right numbers, paying them well and exposing them to professional development. “I am convinced that if by 2024 such guarantees are gradually put in place, in another five years, our universities would begin to witness a stream of better quality inputs from the secondary system,” he said.
On the future of quality in the university system, Okebukola said it is driven by a multiplicity of factors, including the curriculum, teacher quality and motivation, curriculum delivery, quality of governance and resourcing. “Happily, NUC now has in place the Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) with 30 per cent content from each university to reflect institutional uniqueness. This leaves us with several other quality variables, which we should attend to with greater vigour in the next five years,” he explained. On the university, he said data shared with him by NUC confirmed that the school is in the top-tier of the 263 institutions presently in the country.