By Dayo Adesulu
The recent appointment of Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai as Minister of Education has attracted mixed feelings from stakeholders in the sector. While some stakeholders are busy outlining the key areas in the sector where the Minister of Education should focus her attention on for ratification, others are querying the rationale behind her selection insisting that there are more qualified hands to take charge as Minister of Education.
Speaking with Vanguard Education Weekly, Dr Akinyemi Kabiru Olusegun, ASUU-LASU Chairman said that, although the Minister is new to him, it will be too early to assess her credibility to perform, saying that he would rather advise her not to follow the path of her predecessors who never made positive change in the industry. Since Rufai has just one year to spend in that office, she should not bother herself of new policy but act on the existing ones within the time frame.
The Chairman urged the new minister to avoid every distraction to her mission to transform education and make our universities among the best in the world noting that in the recent ranking; only one or two universities in Africa were ranked amongst the one thousand in the world. â€˜â€™Even University of Ibadan, the oldest in Nigeria was not rated amongst the one thousand in the world,â€ Akinyemi said.
To make this achievable, he charged Rufai to encourage and fund research in our tertiary institutions as no country in the world ever achieved greatness without given considerable attention and funding to research work. He asserted that since research leads to discovery, we need training and retraining of lecturers and students in order to get new discoveries.
In order for her to succeed, Akinyemi enjoined Rufai to work with the best brains in the sector that are focus and know what it takes to achievable success.
Moreover, he queried the Federal Government little allocation to education funding as the money is either insufficient for the projects or not judiciously utilized for the very purpose. He reiterated that our university libraries and laboratories should be well equipped with contemporary books and equipment to enhance good study.
Also speaking, Comrade Akeju Paul, President, Students Union LASU, Anthony Campus said that students expect Rufai to jettison whatever policy in that sector that has never worked before. The Minister should go into the educational system from the grass root before she comes to the university level. If the foundation in the primary stage is adversely affected, such students will not be able to cope in the university level.
Japan and America invested massively on education and academic research and today they are referred to as the ones having the best economy in the world. He insisted, the Minister should invest on intellectuals and research work where Nigeria will acquire the knowledge to explore the mineral resources we have. â€œRufai should make use of project researches embarked upon by tertiary institutions. The minister should go into the archives of academic research and not just to formulate policies, but to implement them,â€ he said.
Comrade Oludare Dada, Secretary Students Union LASU, in his assertion, said that the Minister should look into the issue of NYSC, adding that part time students who are within the require age be allow to serve their father land after graduation, stressing that some of the students who find themselves running part time courses was due to financial constrains.
Moreover, he urged the Minister to make the Youth Corps members serving their fatherland in various states secure, as there are locations in the country that are threat to corps members. In case of danger, he said, it is presumed that from the monthly allowance of corps members, they should be able to transport themselves to their states. But how can this be possible with the present allowance? â€œI kindly solicit a jerk up of NYSC monthly allowance,â€ Oludare said.
Besides, lecturers should be motivated in term of wages as there are local government councilors that earn more than university lecturers.
To Dr Dele Adeoti, a senior lecturer, LASU said we do not know the competence of Rufai, stressing that before her selection as Minister of Education, the authority should have looked into her antecedents to know if she had made mark in that sector before, either in her state or national level.
He said further that, the best action to have taking was to consult those stakeholders in the sector to get the best hand. However, he reiterated that, it is not going to be business as usual; hence, she should be focus and do the right things.