From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The immediate past National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, has called on government at all levels to fund education adequately in order to solve the mystery of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
Ogunyemi, a professor of Social Studies and Citizenship Education also observed that it was regrettable that, when other countries of the world are increasing their budget for education with the aim of finding solution to COVID-19, Nigeria is going backward by cutting its budget for education in the face of the ravaging virus.
The ex-ASUU chairman made the call while delivering a lecture titled “Academic Culture During and After COVID-19 In Nigeria Tertiary Institution”, at a one-day seminar, organised by the Federal College of Education (FCE), Osiele, Abeokuta branch of the Colleges of Academic Staff Union (COEASU) in Ogun State.
Ogunyemi lamented that, Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions were given little or no role by the government in the ongoing efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He opined that the outbreak of COVID-19 provided a good opportunity for the Nigerian government to empower the university for global reckoning, but government made Nigeria to be in the category of countries who had not sufficiently taken scientific advice into account to mitigate the pandemic.
“Universities are the research hubs in advanced and industrialised countries, but universities and other tertiary institutions here are relegated to the background.
“If not for TETfund, universities would have been sidelined totally in the ongoing research into COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“Government at all levels in Nigeria must change their attitude to education funding to enable academics respond appropriately to the challenge of COVID-19 now and in the near future within the mandate of their academic institution.
“Research is a common thread that runs through academic culture within the tertiary education sub sector, there is a dire need to stock the libraries, equip the laboratories, workshops, studios and make the working environment conducive for staff and students of tertiary institutions in order to advance academic culture.
“Until and unless the government is fully prepared to fund education to at least, a minimum of 20 percent of the annual budgetary allocations as stipulated by the United Nations Funds for Population Activities (UNFPA), Nigeria’s tertiary institutions and indeed Nigeria, will be left behind in the standardisation and internationalisation of tertiary education worldwide”. Ogunyemi stated.
In her address, the Chairman of COEASU, Dr. Kemi Oni explained that the seminar was organised to proffer solutions to the myriads of challenges confronting the education sector, especially in the face of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
She noted that tertiary institutions must continue to put government on its toes to ensure that the fortune of education is changed for the better.
“In academic environment, there is always a need for us to organise programmes like this not only to prepare lecturers for their tasks, but also to keep government on its toes by coming up with solutions to the challenges of education in Nigeria”, Oni submitted.