Letter To President Buhari On Four Federal Universities Of Education Put On Hold

                                                                                                                        

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to take a second look at the four Federal Universities of Education put on hold four years ago.

Solacebase recalled that close to the end of President Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2015 , he approved the upgrading of four famous Federal Colleges of Education in  Kano, Ondo, Owerri and Zaria to Federal Universities of Education.

However , the present administration later put the upgrading on hold due to some reasons that many believed was more political than technical.

Hence in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari dated June 7th 2019 and obtained by Solacebase, he was charged to fashion out  way to immediately address the upgrading of the four colleges of education to university status to enhance access to specialized university training

See the letter below:

Dear Sir,

VIABILITY OF THE STATUS AND FUNDING REQUIREMENTS OF THE FOUR FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES OF EDUCATION (ON HOLD)

1. Background Four years ago, the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) put on hold the upgrading of four famous Federal Colleges of Education (Kano, Ondo, Owerri and Zaria) to Federal Universities of Education. The upgrading was pronounced at the eve of the past Administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Although the development was criticized on technical grounds, the vision was however in line with the current international trend of developing specialized universities for enhancement of professionalism and quality human capital development.

2. Facts About Specialized Universities

i. Universities should be specialized: The truth is that the world over, universities are either becoming more renowned for their specialty or are now being established more on the basis of specialty to foster quality human capital development.

 Hence there are now Universities of Engineering; Mining Technology; Agriculture; Mathematical Sciences; Medical Sciences; Education; etc.). This is what Nigeria started doing in the mid-1980s with the establishment of Universities of Agriculture, Sciences and Technology.

In recent times South Africa, Egypt and Ghana have been far ahead of Nigeria in the development of specialty universities.

ii. Degrees in Education and Teaching do require specialized universities: This also is true as modern pedagogue now more than ever requires specialization and to the extent that the first degree has since become the minimum qualification for teaching even at the primary school level in the advanced countries.

 Indeed, only university graduate teachers can guarantee quality basic and secondary education in this age of science and technology.

 iii. Converting Colleges of Education awarding the Nigeria Certificate of Education (NCE) into Universities of Education would significantly enhance quality of Teacher Education: The fact about this is that NCE became the minimum qualification for teaching after the phasing out of the Grade II Teachers Certificate as the minimum teaching qualification in Nigeria; and indeed, the country is reaching the stage now when University Degree in Education would become the minimum qualification for teaching. The National Teacher Education Policy says as much.  

iv. The immediate communities of the upgraded institutions will have the benefit of further university and teacher education: A university (specialized or conventional) is for universal knowledge and should be able to cater for the knowledge and educational needs of their respective communities. Therefore, programmes like Foundation Diploma Programmes are run by every university in Nigeria to meet such immediate community needs.

 In the case of the Federal Universities of Education, three years Certificate in Education Programmes (Basic Education and Secondary Education) can be mounted and professional recognition sought from the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria; while same Diploma Certificates can be used for Direct Entry absorption into the University Degree Programme as is the practice in all Nigerian universities today. 

v. Above all, unlike the Medical Sciences and Maritime Universities which were actually conceived during the last minutes of the last administration, the four Universities of Education have a more defined historical antecedence in; having being conceived to be elevated from the four FCEs since some twenty years ago.

The four Universities of Education Project only came to see the light of the day by sheer coincidence with the other two specialized Universities.  

3. The Viability of the Conversion of the FCEs to FUEs

 i. Offering of Degree Programmes in Education: The four Colleges recently converted to Universities already run Degree Programmes accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in affiliation with the Faculties of Education of ABU; OAU; and UNN.

The elevation of the status of the Colleges to Universities is, therefore, merely a formality.

 ii. Increased Access to University Education: The new Universities will no doubt ease the heavily congested admission quota and carrying capacity currently bedeviling admission space in most universities now, as in the near future, the specialized universities of education will begin single honours degree programmes in addition to their main Education Degree Programmes.

No part of the country can hence afford to miss the opportunity of increased access to be provided by the four universities.

 iii. Less Cost Implication: Unlike the Medical Sciences and Maritime Universities, the FUEs already have staffing and structures on ground that can be maximized for the possible initial 2 to 3 years transition. This is a big plus that Government should maximize upon in the development of University Education in Nigeria.

Also, the new FUEs are already on the Federal Budget line. The same funding can be maximized to run the Universities during the Transition period in terms of recurrent expenditure, while the expected increase in the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) allocations continue to be utilized for the capital project requirements.

 Indeed, in terms of salaries, the earnings of staff of FCEs is already almost favourably comparable to the University staff salaries.

 4. Conclusions

While indeed, establishing new Universities may be requiring huge amounts of resources (funding and human capacities) that could run into billions to start off in order to meet infrastructure and manpower needs (and which may not be easily plausible) at this austere times, the Federal Universities of Education can maximize provisions in the current budget of the FCEs to run the transition required. The FUEs will by far enhance access for University Education which is a major challenge for the University System in all parts of Nigeria today.

Universities of Education indeed are not new in the world. Columbia Teachers College in the US as the leading University of Education in the world has an alumnus of great teachers and professors in Africa and Nigeria.

 Ghana has run the University of Education with campuses in all Regions of the country for over twenty years now. That University is the mainstay of quality teachers propelling quality education in Ghana. Tai Solarin and Ignatius Ajuru Universities of Education owned by Ogun and Rivers State Governments respectively have been successfully run under NUC guidance for almost two decades now.

 5. Prayers

The foregoing shows that the four Federal Universities “on hold” are not only plausible but of enormous advantage to University and Teacher Education in Nigeria and so should be allowed to flourish.

 We therefore pray that His Excellency, the President and Commander in-Chief of Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari accents on the Bills for the establishment of the Universities, which have long been forwarded to the Presidency for further necessary action. 

Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria! Long Live President Muhammadu Buhari!!   

Dr. Abubakar Sadiq Haruna Department of Psychology & Counselling  Federal College of Education, Kano  (07066994040)

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