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Nigeria requires more tertiary institutions

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Aligning university count with population and educational needs is crucial.

Senator Jim Nwobodo, the ex-governor of Anambra State, has revealed that Nigeria’s current number of universities and tertiary institutions is sufficient when considering the country’s youth population. Receiving the Founders Award from the national leadership of the Federal Polytechnic Oko Alumni Association, he shared his thoughts on his residence in Amechi, in Enugu South Local Government of the State. In discussions about the state of tertiary education in the country, the elder statesman addressed concerns about the state of tertiary education in the country, emphasising the importance of aligning the number of institutions with the country’s population and educational needs.

With the current population growth, increasing the number of tertiary institutions is essential to accommodate the growing number of applicants and admitted students. Therefore, there must be a reduction in the country’s demand-supply gap for higher education. Nearly two million applicants annually apply for Nigerian universities, with only half successfully securing admission into higher institutions. The worries of parents and families regarding candidates and the candidates themselves are a distant concern for him. Nwobodo urged officials to prioritise quality schooling in all licensed institutions, emphasising that students from both government and private schools are still Nigerian citizens.

Nwobodo’s exceptional leadership and education advocacy were commended.

He was delighted to receive the Founders Award, recognising his effort in transforming the college into a diploma-granting institution. Founded by Dr. Alex Ekwueme, former vice-president, the institution evolved into the current Federal Polytechnic Oko, where numerous individuals have received training in various fields. Being a former teacher at King’s College in Lagos, Nwobodo reflected on his time before becoming governor and remembered founding five additional higher education institutions, including a multi-campus university. He firmly believed in the importance of education for advancing Eastern Nigeria.

The happiness he feels stems from the fact that the small seed sown by Alex Ekwueme has blossomed into a hub for various educational programs. During the award presentation, Nze Henry Chukwukadibia, the National President of the Federal Polytechnic Oko Alumni Association, praised Senator Nwobodo for his exceptional leadership, dedication to public service, and strong advocacy for education. As the former governor of the State, Senator Nwobodo was recognised for his contributions to establishing various educational institutions, including the College of Arts, Science and Technology, Oko, which has since evolved into the prestigious Federal Polytechnic Oko.

Ekwueme, Nwobodo, Babangida, and Mr. Ndu led the institution’s founding.

They honour him for his outstanding education achievements through his exemplary actions and unwavering integrity in making their alma mater one of the most sorted schools. Nwobodo, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, the then military president; Alex Ekwueme and Mr. Ndu were key figures in establishing the institution. Ekwueme was credited as the mastermind behind the idea, while Babangida played a crucial role in its transformation into a federal polytechnic. Mr. Ndu served as the inaugural principal of the institution during its earlier years as the College of Arts and Science.

To bridge the education gap, the government can establish new tertiary institutions in underserved regions and invest in existing institutions to improve their capacity. They can also collaborate with private organisations to establish more tertiary institutions through public-private partnerships. By expanding the number of tertiary institutions, the government can ensure that more young Nigerians have access to quality higher education and contribute to the country’s development. This will also help reduce the unemployment rate by providing more skilled individuals to meet the demands of the job market.

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Lastly, the government can also focus on enhancing the quality of education by updating the curriculum, providing necessary resources, and investing in faculty development. By ensuring that tertiary institutions are well-equipped and staffed with qualified educators, the government can guarantee that students receive a high standard of education. Additionally, the government can offer scholarships and financial aid programs to make higher education more accessible to students from low-income backgrounds. By taking these steps, a more inclusive and competitive tertiary system that benefits both individuals and the overall socio-economic development can be created.

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