The founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State, Aare Afe Babalola SAN, has encouraged a national emergency fund to address the challenges of inadequate funding of the education sector.
He suggested a minimum of 26 per cent of the national budget or four per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) yearly to the sector.
Chief Babalola made the call on Tuesday while delivering the keynote address at the 32nd Conference of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU), hosted by the Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete.
Speaking on the topic: “University management and economic Change: The Nigerian educational system perspective,” he said: “To rapidly catch up with the rest of the world in terms of quality education, there is a need to designate a significant portion of annual budgets to education.”
He added that the government must be committed to revitalize and supporting public universities.
Babalola also stressed the need for an end in the incessant industrial actions in public universities in the country, to bring about stable academic calendar. He also pointed out that “the private universities are generally not vulnerable to the many common ills of public universities.
”the AVCNU Chairman, Prof Debo Adeyewa, urged governments at all levels to fund education adequately.
Adeyewa, the Vice Chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, also charged university administrators to come up with solutions to the “problems of paucity of finance, deficit of knowledge infrastructure, governance, policy inconsistency and other solutions relevant to the needs of society’’.
He said the employability of graduates, entrepreneurship, quality assurance, relevance to sustainable development, climate change, leveraging on Information Communication Technology (ICT) and open education resources and international collaboration in the Nigerian university system were some of the challenges confronting the universities.
“We need to address the nagging questions to ensure the provision of functional and quality education required for national development in the 21st century through our universities.”
Declaring the conference open, Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed urged the vice chancellors to promote real research instead of the book reviews.
Represented by the Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Hajia Amina Ahmed also spoke of the need to match the training with the needs of the society.
“It is only through pragmatic approach that we can guarantee sustainable growth in our country. Unless and until we graduate students as job creators, our saturated market of unemployable youths can at best remain time bombs that would do us no good,” he said.
Earlier, Vice Chancellor of KWASU, Prof Abdulrasheed Na’Allah urged university administrators to collaborate with government to stop incessant strike actions by lecturers.
Na’Allah added that most lecturers don’t treat their students like clients, saying the unfriendly treatment would not allow the students to give back to their alumni after their graduation.
“If we are determined have 21st century universities, we have to ensure that our universities are theatres of research. There cannot be development without universities. Nigerian universities have no other cause but to change the fortune of Nigeria.
“This nation is spending heavily on university education, yet we don’t have anything to show for it,” the vice chancellor added.