No doubt the Nigerian University System (NUS) is currently facing numerous challenges such as the quality of graduates, incessant strikes, sex harassment, sex-for-marks, inadequate funding and lack of teaching facilities.
But former Vice Chancellor, Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU), Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State, Prof Sola Fajana strongly believes that faith-based institutions could turn things around for the better.
Fajana, a professor of Labour and Human Resources Management, University of Lagos, who delivered Anchor University, Lagos (AUL), Faculty of Social and Management Sciences first Faculty Distinguished Lecture, said the rot in the NUS requires comprehensive treatment to remove.
The immediate past VC of JABU stressed that all stakeholders must embrace change for greater quality assurance, productivity and acceptability of the NUS, noting, ‘’specifically, as the people of God are expecting the next move of God, faith-faith-based institutions must be positioned squarely ready to be used. God is looking for organisations such as FBIs to stand up for him.’’
In the 40-page lecture, titled: “Driving Excellence in a Faith-based Institutions: A Role for all Stakeholders,’’ Fajana opined that the FBIs are expected to carve a niche for themselves within the larger group of private universities, and thus readily make the excellent tomorrow of the NUS visible even today.
The UNILAG don observed that recent developments have threatened the capacity of the NUS to deliver on its mandate.
His words: “There are deficits and gaps in terms of a godless society, crazy campuses, demographic disconnects, intergenerational differences in expectations and preferences, inappropriate pedagogues, and kindred challenges that have threatened the established legacies of the NUS.’’
Fajana acknowledged that the NUS witnessed landmark achievements in the past and that currently, there exist some unavoidable strains and stress, which had unwittingly caused some avoidable pains manifested in erosion of historical academic values and virtues.
The former VC listed factors hampering public institutions, which include technological challenges, publication requirement, organisational politics, corruption and the decline of moral values, academic group depletion, unwillingness to mentor, demographic uniqueness of contemporary university staff academics as jobs of regressed aspirations and breaking or jumping bond. He posited that if the trend persist, there may be net losses for stakeholders,stating that the drop in the quality of graduates from the educational system cannot continue without the loss of credibility for the institutions within the international comity of higher institutions.
“A credible birth of the education sector would involve the deployment of technology, respecting the rights of others in the role set, engaging in public and private collaborations, embracing godly values, and revitalising erstwhile university culture.’’
To tackle the rot in the NUS, Fajana said university leaders must comply with extant regulations, establishment and consolidation of academic linkages, funding strategies, entrenching academic culture in the university and adoption of skillbuilding pedagogies.
The former ASUU UNILAG scribe posited that private universities are the future of university education in Nigeria.
“They are the future legacy universities, our Ivy Leagues. FBIs should not rest on their oars but continue to seek newer and better ways of achieving their mandate.”
Prof. Fajana remarked that AUL has the character, competence and courage to play a credible role in the NUS, adding, ‘’all stakeholders hands must be on deck to achieve this and sustain a tradition of excellence.’’
He commended Pastor Williams Kumuyi, proprietor of AUL for the obedience to the divine instruction for the establishment of the institution in 2016. The former VC also appreciated the Board of Trustees, Chancellor, Governing Council, VC and his management team as well as lecturers and students for keeping the flag flying
The VC of AUL, Prof Joseph Afolayan, said the vision of a faith-based institution should be to provide students with a strong sense of direction in life, thus they are made to get exposed to the best educational practices globally, share rich briefs and values that provide a meaningful education experience bound to transform their lives.
“Driving excellence in a faith-based university requires guts. It required the courage of noble men and women of unusual conviction and resilience. The need to find men who will stand their ground and walk the talk, men who will rise through rains and storms undeterred.
“Next to this is the need to continuously develop our personalities to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Beyond all these, there is also a need for a system that works, a system that is capable of supporting the vision for an excellent education,’’ AUL VC stated.
Prof Afolayan said the theme of the lecture underscores the crux and essence of faith-based education as is being driven in AUL, stating that FBIs, if properly administered, transcends the moral, spiritual and physical essence.
He acknowledged that within three years AUL has recorded many milestones, noting, “the quality of training, the huge and growing infrastructure on its campus as well as the numerous partnership the institution had attracted, within and
outside Africa are indications that the vision of AUL is treated with utmost passion. The Dean, Faculty of Social and Management Science, Prof. Simbo Banjoko disclosed that the lecture is a platform to help in expanding AUL frontier of knowledge through the delivery of incisive and thought-provoking lectures to staff, students and its immediate community.
Prof. Banjoko said the lecture will afford AUL the opportunity to know the roles of university stakeholders in driving excellence in a faith-based institution and also give them the opportunity to know how Prof Fajana coped with and managed the various challenges, problems and prospects of FBI as VC of JABU.
AUL used the occasion to present cash gift to the best 300 level student in the Faculty of Social and Management Science, Elizabeth Komolafe with a CGPA of 3.89 out of 4.00 while a lawmaker in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Bisi Yusuf also rewarded her with N50,000.