Poor funding, incessant strikes, poor quality assurance, limited carrying capacity, and cultism are some of the problems plaguing the higher education system in Nigeria.
Distinguished Professor of Science Education, Peter Akinsola Okebukola, said these challenges are not new and have been recurring in the last three decades.
Speaking during a virtual launch in honour of his 70th birthday, Okebukola said the solutions to the challenges had also been documented by him and other academics in a book that policy makers and educational administrators could use to turn the education system around.
The book was compiled by former Vice-Chancellor Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Prof. Sola Akinrinade; Prof. Siyan Oyeweso of UNIOSUN; Dean, School of Transport and Logistics, LASU, Prof. Samuel Odewumi and Prof. Anthony Kola-Olusanya.
Other contributors to the book are, Prof. Kola- Olusanya, former Assistant Director- General, UNESCO, Sir John Daniel and the immediate past Vice Chancellor, LASU, Prof. ‘Lanre Fagbohun.
Okebukola, a pioneer staff of the Lagos State University (LASU), said he would present some copies of the book titled: “Pivotal Issues in Higher Education Development in Nigeria – Essays in honour of Distinguished Professor Peter Okebukola” to the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu and other top government functionaries as a valuable resource in running education sector.
“The book is a book for yesterday, today and the future. I am going to take my personal copies to the Minister of Education that this is the master key for tackling most of the rot in the education sector,” he said.
The virtual presentation of the book was attended by many academics of note both home and abroad, including former Vice-Cahncellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Nimi Briggs; Prof. Jama Shabani of the University of Burundi and Pan African Quality Assurance Framework; Acting Vice Chancellor, LASU, Prof. Oyedamola Oke, among others.
The participants spoke glowingly of Prof. Okebukola, who during his career served as the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC).
One of them was Fred Awaah, a former Students Union president from Ghana, who shared how Okebukola took him under his wing and inspired his self-development journey.
“What Nigerians are benefiting is just about 10 per cent of his output. I came from a student movement and it is thought we were not very refined. I did a presentation as a student representative to professors in Senegal and the professors tore into me and criticised me – from my dressing to my grammar. But Prof. Okebukola stood by me. He said it was not easy to stand before a professor. He told me to meet him during the lunch break. He helped me and many others to be where we are today. I am almost a doctor in public administration and educational management and that wont have been possible without Okebukola. I want to thank him for what he did for me and many others,” he said.
Prof. Jabbani also shared how Okebukola had been instrumental to putting Africa on the map in relations to quality assurance and UNESCO programmes, as well as digital education.
“I have known Prof. Okebukola for almost 40 years. He has helpd us at the UNESCO Africa region to implement most of the programmes. We were doing better than all the other regional offices. He was the first one in 1994 to develop a module on how to teach online,” he said.
Briggs said though he was older than Okebukola, he had learnt a lot from the former NUC Executive Secretary; while Oyeweso said the newly-minted septuagenarian taught him academic discipline.