7% is below standard A professor in science and a great academician, Associate Prof. Kingsley Agbafor revealed that the seven percent allocat
- 7% is below standard
A professor in science and a great academician, Associate Prof. Kingsley Agbafor revealed that the seven percent allocated to education in the country out of the Nigerian Budget is not enough to be compared to the minimum twenty-six percent demanded by United Nations. Associate Prof Agbafor, an Academic Staff of Ebonyi State University Abakaliki stated this during an interview with The Starnews.
Please may we know you?
My name is kingsley Agbafor, an Academic Staff of Ebonyi State University
How long have you been in academic profession?
Roughly eighteen years.
Do you think the academic system of old is better than that of today?
Yes and No!
Yes, because technology has improved the present school system. There were very few computers in our time. I graduated without operating a single computer, but now the 100 level students are having their practical with computers. So, with the advent of technology and diversification of programmers, I will say that what we have now is better than what we had before.
No, because in some aspects, the school system of those days was a bit better than the one we have now. One of the reasons being the structure of the school system those days had no disruptions like strikes, social vices, and the distractions were minimal. Then students almost graduated on time. At that time, the type and nature of the degree you make will be almost 80-90% your efforts.
Do you think the Nigerian government has seen to the needs of education in the country?
Even though I pray for this country to get better, the present government from the federal has not demonstrated enough commitment to improving the education standard. Has there been any time the quality of education climbs up to UN’s 26% of quality of education? NO.
So, from that mindset, it tells you that education is not the priority of the government. For example, since this government came into office, are there any new universities? Any effort to improve the existing ones? I stand to be corrected, but I have not seen. The present and previous governments have not shown any commitment to improving the standard of education in our dear country.
What are those things you suggest the government should focus on in our academic system?
Infrastructure, NUC benchmark requires that a professor should have an office with refrigerator, TV Set, a convenience and possibly, a secretary. Only very few schools can boast of this.
Secondly, standard library; overseas, there are e-libraries, there is serious brain drain in the country, people go to Ghana to teach. Then energy or electricity; there is nothing you can do on campus without light.
The quality of students admitted in universities is embarrassing. JAMB said the last time that pass mark is 120 all over 400 which is less than 40%. So, a lot is to be done in the educational sector.
Do you have anything to say on the unemployment in the labour market? Does it have anything with course of study or society?
I think we are still being colonized by the western world. In the B.sc. level, you will see people studying pharmacology, biochemistry just because they like the sound of the name. Listen, there are Doctors and Lawyers today that beg for food. When we admit students, the Agricultural faculty has the lowest intake of students because no one likes the course. I will start the blame from the parents who don’t guide their wards properly. I tell people, 60% of unemployment is caused by us because if you look at your society and your interest, you answer the question of the service to render in the labor market after studying a particular course. The other 40% goes to government where several positions go vacant in government establishments yearly; these positions are supposed to be filled with the unemployed.
Federal government allocated 7% of the budget to education, is it small?
I say it again, United Nation’s standard is 26% and we are giving 7%. That’s unfortunate. Wisdom is the key to survival. Even when we cry of no fund, the government should believe that education is the key to national development. The federal government, by way of budget allocation, has done near to nothing to appreciate the importance of education.
What is your opinion about the indiscipline found in our schools today?
It is systematic, and people don’t know that indiscipline does not start in the university. Let me start from malpractice. These days, parents pay for special examination centre for their children, fighting teachers who try to discipline their children. What would you expect when such a child grow up?
As for cultism, up to 30% of cultist joined them ignorantly. But if a parent is proactive by identifying an adult in the school, be it academic or non-academic staff to guide over their wards, that ward will be well guided. They will be careful with the friends they mingle with. I once came across a situation where a couple came in search of their daughter in my office, after many enquiries, the student could not be traced. Where do you think all these ritualists get their victims from? I keep telling students that the person you call your friend might be your enemy who can lead you to grave danger.
Even the cultists in the campuses intimidate other students and this leads some of them to seek for wrong protection by joining other cult groups. What pains me about cultism is that high placed lecturers or some influential people in the society support this menace and that is one of the reasons why it thrives.
But on the other hand, some students are academically lazy and feel the only way to survive is the hard way, by joining cults so as to coerce lecturers into giving them good grades. But I tell my fellow lecturers to pay no heed to them because if you obey them once you will become their slave forever. But if they approach once and get no positive result, they will not come again, but will avoid having issues with your course.
As for sexual harassment, it goes two ways; 60% for lecturers and 40% for female students. Some lecturers are irresponsible. But I tell students that it is only when you are lazy that you can offer yourself to some lecturers for grades. But if a lecturer should harass you sexually, come and let me know; that lecturer would go and nobody will touch you. Thankfully, the Vice Chancellor has a minus-ten tolerance for such and students know this.
But some students who are irresponsible will come to entice even a clergy lecturer with worldly dressing, thereby making it difficult for the weak lecturers to say no. You see, the vices in the university are enormous and they spread, any way out?
There is always a way “with God all things are possible.” There is need to use human efforts like educating students of their rights and encouraging them not to be scared of talking, knowing there are rules that protect students from victimization. And to the lecturers, stop collecting gifts from students to avoid committing yourself to them.
What has Ebonyi State Government done for the institution?
In respect to available resources, I will say that the state government has done well enough, but not too well. Let’s talk about the students, Governor David Umahi came into office and removed ten thousand naira from the school fees. Also there has been aggressive effort to develop the permanent site of the university. Again, If not directly, the government’s love for infrastructural development is affecting every life in this state. Laudable things from the governor that have affected the lives in the institution include the procurement of agricultural loan in conjunction with the Bank of Industry (BOI) for the staff of the University. And recently, we had an expanded management board meeting of the University, where the Vice Chancellor gave a breakdown of his discussion with the governor. According to him, the governor gracefully accepted to provide money to pursue the accreditations of some programs that were denied accreditation. But there is still room for improvement. The one that pinches people most is that, there is lack of promotion.
According to the V.C, there was a letter banning promotion of any staff pending when the governor finishes visiting the university to know the happenings in the school. But on 1st of May this year, the governor lifted the ban and later told the University that “If you are able to pay, you can promote” but in fairness maybe we have not done well in terms of internal generated revenue (IGR), but again educational institutions are not money making institutions.
So if the governments see to the promotion of staff as at when due, that will encourage productivity. Scarcity of funds we know is still a limitation for the state government. Taxation should also be controlled so that people will not be over taxed, so as not to drive a dagger into the already fragile hearts of the citizens
Is it true that Ebonyi state government gives a subvention of N200M to Ebonyi State University every month?
I am speaking according to what the V.C told us, yes the University gets N200M from the state government but sometimes Nigerian factor comes in, fraud, corruption. But again, the new administration has taken a good stand by initiating Remitta to checkmate those leakages in the school.
Aanuoluwapo Akindoyin and Juliet Osuji