Faith-based institutions, future of Nigerian education, says Don
Lagos, June 18, 2019: A Don, Prof. Sola Fajana, on Tuesday called on faith-based institutions to rise above the challenges facing the university system in the country to bring about the desired change in the education sector.
Fajana, who is a professor of Labour and Human Resources Management, University of Lagos, made the call at the first distinguished lecture organised by the Faculty of Social and Management Sciences, Anchor University, Lagos.
The theme of the lecture is: Driving Excellence in a Faith-Based Institution – The role of Stakeholders.
He said Nigeria’s education sector was at crossroads and in dire need of rebirth to drive the overall sustainable development in the nation.
According to him, the Nigerian university system has suffered major setbacks due to developments that have threatened the capacity of the sector to deliver on its mandate.
“There are deficits and gaps in terms of a godless society, crazy campuses, demographic disconnect and inappropriate pedagogies, among others.
“These gaps have threatened the established legacies of the Nigerian University System,” he said.
The don added that at the tertiary level, there had been a perennial access deficit by Nigerians to affordable education.
“Available data from NBS and JAMB show that between 2010 and 2015, of the 10 million applicants that sought admission, only 26 per cent gained admission.
“The most obvious reason for this deficit is the inadequate capacity of state-owned tertiary institutions compared to the growing candidate population,” Fajana said.
He also identified technological as a prominent challenge facing the education system: “Digitally-driven education in Nigeria continues to remain at an inglorious infancy.
“Artificial intelligence is taking over the world of work, but we are not even future ready. This is a challenge to both academic and non-academic staff.”
Fajana said the unwillingness of some academic leaders to reproduce themselves in students was another challenge facing the system, which he said, faith-based universities must overcome.
“Some academic leaders have assumed the garb of tormentors rather than mentors,” he said.
He also decried the situation where the teaching profession was derided by many young people.
This, he said, led to brain drain and serious deficit in the history of credible academics.
“During its foundational years, Nigerian universities attracted only those who qualified both in terms of aptitude and competence.
“Now, academics are being considered as jobs of regressed aspiration.
“The initial job aspiration of most graduates is for positions in the oil sector, customs and immigration services.
“However, as longer periods of waiting for jobs are being experienced, regression into lesser jobs have included academics.
He urged management and stakeholders to embrace strategies for effective employee resourcing to avoid employing the wrong persons.
Fajana noted that the rot in the Nigerian university system required a comprehensive treatment to remove.
“To mitigate the foregoing trends, God is looking for all stakeholders: individuals, leaders, the church and all faith-based institutions to be used as tools for genuine rebirth of Nigeria’s ailing education system.
According to him, a credible rebirth of the education sector would involve the deployment of technology, respecting the rights of others in the role set, engaging in public and private collaborations, embracing godly values and revitalising the university culture.
However, to stay within the national education policy and avoid being labelled as discriminatory, he advised faith-based institutions to adopt the Baylor methodology.
He said the Baylor methodology deployed an all-inclusive approach, which involved close monitoring of students by staff members and providing early guidance at point of entry.
He said faith-based institutions must adopt solid and comprehensive plan and strategies for the generation of revenue to keep the institution running if it must deliver on its mandate.
“These strategies include: establishing consultancy services; small and medium scale enterprises; agro-processing industries using the public-private partnership platform; support from donors, host communities and the church hierarchy.
“Faith-based institutions have consistently played credible role in the advancement of education in Nigeria.
“Education is a veritable instrument in character moulding. It is, therefore, imperative that the right type of education should be given to our leaders of tomorrow,” he said.
In addition, the Vice Chancellor, Anchor University Lagos, Prof Joseph Afolayan, said a faith-based education should provide students with a strong sense of direction in life and exposure to best education practices globally.
“Driving excellence in a faith based university requires guts. It requires the courage of noble men and women of unusual conviction and resilience.
“The vision of Anchor University is clear and our efforts since we started have been geared towards achieving the lofty vision of character, competence and courage,” he said.