By Gabriel Chy Alonta
A senior lecturer in the Department of History, Midlands State University, Zimbabwe, Prof. Vongai Nyawo, made the observation during a maiden International Conference of Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto Resource Centre at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra state.
The two day conference themed: ‘Emerging Trends in Tertiary Education in Africa’, also featured book presentation titled, ‘On Justice, Equity and Dignity: Recreating Woman being in Contemporary African Society’ edited by Ngozi Ezenwa-Ohaeto and Ijeoma Nwajiaku, Orient Daily reports.
Nyawo lamented the manner in which mainstream knowledge is produced and applied in challenges facing education in Africa, adding that financial meltdown has compounded the crisis in the education sector, which, according to her, include low salaries and infrastructural decay.
“The third generation institutions of 80s and 90s faced challenges of inadequate funding, increasing students population, limited infrastructure, challenges of quality and relevance and massive brain drain and lots of other vices.
“The fourth generation coming around 2000 to date was introduced to face new demands for trained manpower as well as new forms of training that match the economy.
“Nigeria education is also riddled with cultism, which is not very common in Southern African tertiary institutions where I come from. Cultism poses great danger to lives and property of citizens, but sadly, on the increase in Southern African tertiary institutions, are cases of suicide, which goes up to ten students per year.
“Reason for these suicides have largely revolved around matters of the heart, love that would have gone wrong, and, in most cases, it has been male students dying because a staff member snatched their girlfriends”, she said.
She, however, suggested that tertiary institutions in Africa should ensure that they offer excellent training and research, noting that many graduates in Africa fall short in terms of time of degree, successful completion rate, supporting funds, and effective supervision.
On her part, lead paper presenter and former Commissioner for Information in Anambra state, Prof. Chinyere Okunna, decried poor budgetary allocations to education in Nigeria, resulting in poor teaching facilities and incessant strike actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). She said what Nigeria needs is to improve teaching facilities in tertiary institutions.
“Federal government interventions to tertiary institutions in Nigeria is nothing to write home about. Government at all levels must fund education properly if the economy must develop fast like the Asian Tigers. Collapse in education standard and disruption of academic activities are the consequences of poor government interventions in education sector”, she said.
In a remark, the chairman of the occasion and former vice chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Ilochi Okafor, said there is enough money in Nigeria to fund education, but lamented that the money is being mismanaged by politicians, who, according to him, are appropriating large chunk of the resources themselves.
Earlier, the convener, Dr. Ngozi Ezenwa-Ohaeto, said the conference was aimed at stimulating critical discourse among stakeholders in tertiary institutions, with the intention of exposing and tackling identifiable problems in the nation’s tertiary system.
She disclosed that core values of the resource centre was built around Prof. Ezenwa-Ohaeto, who, during his lifetime, won several laurels and brought fame to Nigeria and Africa in the field of literature.