Repositioning Tech Education – The Sun Nigeria
Last week, I wrote about the collapse of the Nigerian university system, occasioned by government underfunding of universities and other factors that have contributed to its decay and the declining quality of their graduates. Along with other issues I have covered in this article, I have also advocated for adequate funding of universities through alternative sources, including alumni associations and through trust funds. endowment.
Continuing on from some of the themes discussed last week, today’s intervention will focus on revitalizing our technology and innovation education through adequate funding of our graduate schools of technology, including mono and polytechnics. While emphasis is placed on technological and innovative education, the foundation of scientific and technological development of any country, attempts should be made to let the government give priority to the development of all levels of education, kindergarten, primary , secondary and tertiary, including research institutes.
It has been established that no nation can develop beyond the development of its educational system and, to some extent, its health care delivery system. The crux of the problem today is that virtually all levels of education in the country are grossly underfunded. In 2019, the federal government allocated 7.05% to education, 6.7% in 2020. Last year, the national education budget was 5.6% and 5.4% for 2022 Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to increase the education budget by 50% over the next few years and 100% by 2025, the allocation to the sector in 2022 has fallen far short of expectations. We have not yet reached the target of 15% of the total budget set by African leaders. Whether or not it is a UNESCO recommendation; it is good that developing countries devote about 25% of their national budget to education if they really want to develop.
The countries that spend the highest total on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP are Norway and Chile with 6.6% each. They are followed by Israel and New Zealand at 6.2% respectively, the United Kingdom at 6.1% and the United States at 6.0%. Education funding in Nigeria is among the lowest in Africa and the world. For Nigeria to achieve science and technology development, it must emphasize technological and innovative education.
The total neglect of technological education is responsible for our slow rate of economic development. This may explain why the country’s unemployment rate is on the rise. It is also responsible for our slow pace of industrialization. While universities have their role in the socio-economic development of the country, the roles of colleges of technology in the science and technology development of the country cannot be underestimated.
It is important that the country’s education planners and decision-makers go back to the drawing board and come up with new pragmatic measures to develop all levels of the education sector starting with pre-primary and primary education, the basis of all other levels. If the pre-primary and primary levels are sufficiently funded, the qualities of their products will carry over to other levels to which they might aspire.
With primary schools and even dilapidated secondary schools across the country, our vision of producing global players will be a mirage. The products of some of these dilapidated, understaffed and underfunded schools cannot compete globally with their counterparts in other countries. Inadequate funding for education is the reason Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa, estimated at over 18.5 million. Unfortunately, the majority of these children are girls. Until now, the figure was estimated at 10.5 million by the UN agency.
It is on the basis of the above that one can appreciate the plan of the main technological institution of the country, the Yaba College of Technology, to reposition technological and innovative education through the launch of the endowment fund of 50 billion naira for overall school development. Although the event is scheduled for next month, it is worth questioning the place of higher schools of technology and even higher schools of education, especially technical ones, in the advancement of our scientific and technological education in a globalized world.
The school’s vision to be the leading tertiary institution in Nigeria by providing top-notch academic, professional and entrepreneurial education to its students will be flawed if the school is not adequately funded. Their mission to produce competent and innovative graduates worthy of skill and character through effective teaching, learning and research for the technological advancement of the country will not come to fruition in the face of utter neglect by the government due to lack of necessary infrastructure and equipment.
In a recent interaction with college management, the college rector, Eng. Obafemi Omokungbe, eloquently captured the problems besetting the 73-year-old institution. According to him, the college is grappling with the inherent challenges of dilapidated infrastructure and outdated and non-functional equipment in their labs and workshops. Since government alone cannot fund education or be able to salvage the situation. The N50 billion endowment fund, which can come in cash or in kind, will be deployed to meet the challenges of the college. Both at its Yaba and Epe campuses, the college needs certain building blocks to be able to achieve its vision and mission. The Chairman of the College Board, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), explained: “The endowment fund is therefore a clear call to all friends of the College, alumni, private and public institutions and agencies. donors to join in the development. Train Yaba College of Technology to sand and be counted as our development partners.
He added, “Your support of the endowment project is an investment in the future, making a real difference in the lives of our students, staff and departments by improving physical development, research, programs and the overall academic excellence of the College. “The endowment projects include investments in infrastructure upgrades, workforce, research and development and others. College shopping list includes; the construction of 3 high-rise towers, a center for continuing studies, a medical center college, a multi-storey student affairs building and student hostels.
Others are the endowment of an academic chair and laboratory and workshop equipment. Therefore, the College appeals to public and private institutions, individuals, the alumni association and others to be part of the great event to enable the college to achieve its vision for technological education.
In addition to the need for higher education institutions to seek other sources of funding, as Yabatech and others intend to do, the federal government should begin to adequately fund its higher education institutions, including technology colleges. Boosting technological education will accelerate Nigeria’s quest for science and technology development.