FINANCING EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: RESPONSIBILITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR

FINANCING EDUCATION  IN  NIGERIA: RESPONSIBILITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR Being the Convocation Lecture delivered during the  combined 4th – 8th Convocation ceremonies of BINGHAM UNIVERSITY Abuja, Nigeria on Friday, December 16th, 2016 Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro (FNIAS, FFPNO, FSPSP) {Department of Animal Science, ATBU, Bauchi/Former Executive Secretary of TETFund, Abuja}

WHAT ARE UNIVERSITIES FOR?

Overall, the global trend sees higher education moving from the periphery to the centre of governmental agendas in most countries. Universities are now seen as crucial national assets in addressing many policy priorities, and as: sources of new knowledge and innovative thinking; providers of skilled personnel; contributors to innovation; attractors of international talent and business investment; agents of social justice and mobility; contributors to social and cultural vitality; and determinants of health and well-being. This is what some have referred to as the economic growth-oriented model of academic funding by government. In other words, our universities have important role to play in transforming the economy as knowledge workers.That this is so is accentuated by the submission of the organizers of the Going Global 2013 conference under the theme – Global Education: Knowledge-based Economies for 21st Century Nations–  and I quote: In the 21st century, knowledge based economies will create the wealth, prosperity and well-being of nations. Research and tertiary education systems are primary drivers of these, playing three key roles. They produce cutting edge knowledge; they transfer, exchange and apply that to drive innovation; and they educate and skill knowledge workers. For these three roles to build knowledge and innovation in a globalised world, they must themselves be globally connected. Cutting edge research requires world-class research partners from across the globe; major innovation requires not only researchers but also businesses and investors to collaborate across national boundaries; knowledge workers need to develop international competences and skills to be effective in the future world. Source: Bamiro (2013) Financing and Funding of Education by both the Public and Private Sectors in Nigeria Financing and Funding have often been interchangeably used as though they are one and the same. While they may appear so, a more careful analysis of the empirical meanings of the two words, and especially in the context of education as a social service , has necessitated a more careful analysis. Although both of the two words connote financial backing, financing dwells more deeply around the issues of monetary value and investment, which for a financial manager, is heavily  suggestive of the anticipated financial benefits from such an investment. In the eyes of government and the general public, funding is a more comfortable choice of word, which in this case emphasizes more on the moral obligations and responsibilities of investors in the sector to the citizenry, especially the less privileged that are in the majority. For me, I am strongly inclined to dwell more on the moral and social responsibilities of investment in the education sector than the ‘accidental’ or even ‘targeted’ profits from such enterprise. Thus in the wide spectrum of debate and applause for the involvement of the private sector in the education sector, I have and still insist that the likely profit from the welcome  participation of the private sector must not constitute the first  incentive. Altruism and the underpinning patriotic contribution to national development must take the front seat. The Proprietor, Governing Council, Management,  Senate, staff and students of this University, this is my departure point at this lecture. “The grave consequences of poor funding on university education in this country are familiar enough. They are evidenced by poor infrastructure and poorly equipped libraries, laboratories, and classrooms. They are reflected in poorly trained and unemployable graduates. They are also reflected in the abysmal rankings of Nigerian universities in Africa and globally. That’s why I sometimes cringe when I hear some universities use the phrase “world class” even in stating their goal, knowing full well that such a goal is unattainable probably in this millennium”.( Source: Niyi Akinnaso, In: The Punch Newspaper, September 27, 2016). I must quickly remind us that consistent poor funding of public universities has been responsible, more than any other factor, for the unfortunate Academic staff strike actions in our tertiary institutions. It was this factor that made the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)  embark on the strike action of 1988 – 92, culminating in government accepting the innovative idea of approving a non-budgetary alternative funding window for public Universities, Polytechnics  and Colleges of Education, which the government of military President Babangida signed with ASUU in 1992, and which became law as the “Education Trust Fund” (ETF) in 1993, which transformed to its original idea of “Tertiary Education Trust Fund” (Tetfund) in 2011. The main objective of the emergence of Tetfund was to remove primary and secondary schools, as well as a litany of other beneficiaries including monotechnics and research institutes from benefiting, since UBEC Act provides for statutory funding of basic education, while others had their official funding mechanisms in the appropriation budgets of the federal government. Facts that speak to the Funding and Management Challenges of   Higher Education  Institutions (HEIs) in  Nigeria: The higher education (HE) subsector in Nigeria can be described, to  a large extent, as one  “locked in an iron triangle defined broadly by the vectors of Access, Quality and Cost” (Bamiro, 2013) . The basic features of each of these vectors are reflected in the following tables and figures as presented  by Prof  O. A. Bamiro during the 50th Anniversary celebration  of  the National Universities’ Commission (NUC)  in 2013. According to Bamiro, the problem of access to higher education in the country is manifested by the inability to admit all qualified candidates seeking admissions into the HEIs. In the process of addressing the access problem, particularly access to university education, universities were established at rapid rates. There are at present 128 universities, 71 polytechnics, 47 monotechnicsand79  colleges  of  education  with geographicaland temporal distributionsof universities as shown in the following tables..
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