Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Imo State, Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Ezeonu, on Thursday, identified emphasis on paper qualification, poor management and funding, among other key issues, as the major causes of conflicts between students and the management of the tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Ezeonu, who made the observation at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, during the 2nd annual conference of the Association of Deans of Student Affairs in Tertiary Institutions (ADOSATI), also added that poor remuneration of teachers and poor curriculum were part of tertiary institutions’ problems in the country.
He, therefore, called on policy-makers to ensure that education stakeholders were consulted before making decisions that affect higher education in the country.
Deans of institutions also used the platform to a chart new course for crisis management on campuses following the growing tide of students’ restiveness and addiction to intake of harmful substances.
While deliberating on the theme of the conference, “Sustainable Peace Building and Crisis Management on our Campuses” Prof. Ezeonu who was the keynote speaker, identified some of the ills bedeviling education system in the country, while calling on the institutions management to use any means at their disposal to prevent conflicts in schools.
Earlier in his address, President of the association, Prof. Stanley Udedi, stated that peace and crisis management was indispensable for smooth running of academic programmes, effective interaction, among stakeholders and quality scholarship, adding that the theme underpinned the importance of the conference.
Udedi, who described the theme as ‘most apt’, noted that the conference hoped to address the myriads of problems and challenges facing Deans in the various institutions, remarking that it was only when there was peace that academic sessions could be completed without hitches.
“Without peace, sessions will be disrupted. So, we gathered together to share our experiences and learn from one another since students are students whether in university, polytechnic or colleges of education.
“We are partnering with Global Centre for Security Operations and Management to achieve our goals.
“The situation of our students all over Nigeria is characterised by an increased uncertainty and by a lack of trust in the future.
“Evidence of this can be seen in the steady rise of youth unemployment which adversely affects students’ performance.
“The conference is expected to proffer solutions to these myriad of challenges bedeviling our institutions,” he said.
Continuing, Prof. Ezeonu said, “There is too much emphasis on paper qualification in Nigeria, rather than knowledge, skill and competence.
“Most students with requisite knowledge, skill and competence, but lack the ability to reproduce what the teacher taught often feel frustrated.”
“This anomaly” according to him, “frustrates most students to the level of taking solace in bribing lecturers for marks, while the female among them resort to offering sexual gratification to lecturers, just to acquire certificates, thereby abandoning the skills and competence they earlier acquired.
Ezeonu, who was the former Dean of Student Affairs at UNIZIK, maintained that the burden of managing crisis in tertiary institutions rests squarely on the shoulders of Deans of Students Affairs, insisting that the Deans must try to establish interpersonal relationship with students, such that they retained the confidence of students as that was the only way they could access information about cases of planned restiveness among students.
Prof. Ezeonu, however, condemned the growing cases of drug addiction among students. He called on the association to dedicate part of its three-day conference to map out strategies of nipping the trend in the bud.
He, however, regretted that some lecturers, in a bid to clinch power, sponsor students to cause riots or disruption of academic sessions, maintaining that such acts were instrumental to flourishing of cultism and other misdemeanours in the tertiary institutions.