Is the time ripe for deregulation of education, especially at the tertiary level? No, says Prof Tunde Samuel of the Lagos State University (LASU)
Delivering the 49th LASU inaugural lecture titled: Total Deregulation: The Inevitable Bitter-Pill or Partial Deregulation, A Policy Heresy-Which Option for Public Tertiary Education In Nigeria? Samuel said deregulation would affect the welfare function of education.
He said: “Total deregulation is inevitable but not now if tertiary education is to fulfil its social welfare function. My position is reinforced by the brutal fact that with poor per capita of less than two dollars per day, majority of Nigerians cannot have access to tertiary education even at the current cost.”
Samuel said owners of tertiary institutions, especially government, are faced with options of whether they should accept this social welfare role and survive or embrace policy heresy and harvest eventual collapse.
Samuel, who served as a special adviser on education during Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s tenure as Lagos State governor, further said deregulation jeopardizes the right of the Nigerian child to acquire tertiary education.
“it is profit oriented; quality of education may be sacrificed because of the commercialization mantra; it will further reduce access to higher education because of the low GNP and per capital; it will have a negative effect on the social welfare index by widening the social gap between the low and high income earners and that quality of education may lay in jeopardy because some of the private universities are glorified secondary schools with low quality of lecturers and administrators,” he said.
However, if Nigeria is to temporarily continue with partial deregulation, the lecturer said the country in general and Lagos State in particular must be on the path of fiscal reality.
“Therefore if Private Universities now charge an average of between N700, 000 to N1.5m, it is thus recommended that public tertiary institution charge a lower limit of 391, 000 and a upper limit of 500, 000 to keep tertiary education alive.”
He suggested a paradigm shift from tertiary to technical and vocational education because return on investment in tertiary education is low, resulting in massive joblessness in the economy.
Tunde also underscored the need for managers of the institutions and governing council members to make judicious use of the scarce resources of the institutions.
“A situation whereby such members ask for first class ticket and millions of naira while on leave is morally untenable when such institutions cannot pay salaries and provide running costs regularly,” he said.
He however lamented that Nigeria has not invested enough into educating her young people to reap remarkable economic and social returns in future years.
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