Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN revealed that the Nigerian university system has lost a total of 50 months from 1999 to date to strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Accordingly, he has called for a review of Nigeria’s university autonomy laws to address the challenges of incessant strike action by the various staff unions in the country’s university system.
Osinbajo spoke in Abuja on Monday, where he formally launched the newly developed Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standards for the Nigerian University System (CCMAS) as part of efforts to revitalize university education in Nigeria.
The revised curriculum was unveiled at an event marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the National Universities Commission (NUC).
The Vice-President, represented by the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, complained that one of the main problems plaguing university education is the incessant strike action by various staff unions in Nigeria’s public universities.
The federal government believes that Nigeria’s university autonomy laws should be reviewed to give government councils more powers to negotiate with staff unions on matters affecting workers’ welfare.
Noting that all issues have remained the same over the years, primarily around funding, university autonomy and infrastructure, he stressed that there must be honest conversations about how to end the threat in the country’s university system.
Osinbajo insisted that the government alone cannot adequately fund education in Nigeria, saying it is therefore imperative to develop a sustainable funding mechanism that takes into account the country’s socio-economic issues.
“I have to emphasize here that the state alone cannot finance education. There is therefore an urgent need to develop a sustainable model for financing higher education. Such a model should take into account the socio-economic diversity and competing expectations of the Nigerian population and workforce,” he said.
He added: “You all know that one of the problems plaguing university education in Nigeria is the incessant strike action by various unions in our public institutions. For example, from 1999 to date, the system had lost more than 50 months as a result of strike action by the University Academic Staff Union.
“I doubt there is any country that has lost so much time to strikes in its university system. All issues have remained the same since the first strike in 1978. The agitation was mainly about funding, university autonomy and remuneration.
“Recent industrial action by university-based unions has prompted a re-examination of issues affecting the university system in Nigeria and this will lead to a review of Nigeria’s university autonomy laws.”
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While emphasizing that access and quality have been key concerns in the provision of university education in Nigeria, he stated that the federal government has supported and will continue to support university education in the country.
Osinbajo also stated that the National Universities Commission (NUC) is the sole regulator of the Nigerian university system in Nigeria and called on Education Minister Malam Adamu Adamu to unify the powers of the NUC with those of professional bodies trying to compete with the commission the field of accreditation.
He said the government is aware of the challenges NUC faces in this regard, so this needs to be clarified so that professional bodies know their limitations when it comes to approving and accrediting programs.
Education Minister Malam Adamu, represented by Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Chancellor Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, commended NUC Executive Secretary Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed for promoting the course of revitalizing the Nigerian uses university system.
NUC Executive Secretary Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to ensuring that the university system’s graduates are of high quality and globally competitive, noting that the content of the newly launched CCMAS is comparable in the best sense to similar curricula in university systems of the world and relevant to the socio-cultural context of Nigeria.
He noted that this would fill the knowledge and skill gaps in the curriculum it replaces, explaining that while it provides at least 70 percent of the core curriculum for all Nigerian universities, it allows institutions to “strengthen the curriculum by adding.” Adjust and adjust 30% of courses to reflect their mission uniqueness and contextual specificities”.
In his opinion, the new curriculum puts an emphasis on entrepreneurship, practical rather than theoretical knowledge and skills, and the development of 21st century skills.
He added that in line with current global practice, there has been a change in nomenclature from Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) to Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS).
He said: “In line with emerging trends around the world, the curriculum is designed to encourage delivery of blended learning that is strategically configured to produce future-ready graduates and provide essential foundations for lifelong learning.
“Fosters deep thinkers and problem solvers and graduates who are highly skilled in their professions and disciplines, and encourages interdependence of disciplines.”