Lagos – Mr Andreas Blom, a Task Team Leader with the World Bank Academic Centre of Excellence, says Nigeria has strong Universities that do not enjoy international recognition.
Blom disclosed this at the Opening of the 7th Regional Project Workshop of Excellence (ACE) on Tuesday in Lagos.
The two-day workshop opened on May 16, to end on May 18.
ACE is a World Bank Project for African Universities with a focus on Agriculture, Health, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
According to Blom, the project is meant to give the nation’s tertiary institutions a facelift, so that they could become internationally-recognised.
“Nigeria is the biggest country in African and has ten centres out of the twenty-two centres in Africa.
“The country has strong universities but they are not well-recognised internationally.
“So the quality needs to be raised with the assistance of the ongoing programme,’’ he said.
Blom noted that Nigerians spent huge funds on education outside the country but said that all the funds could be harnessed locally, if the standard of education was improved.
“We need better universities; we need very good teachers’ curriculum and laboratories so that Nigerian talents can stay in Nigeria and work in country,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Prof Anthony Anwukah, Minister of State for Education, said the Federal Government was satisfied with the progress made so far on the ACE project.
Anwukah, however, commended the universities and the National Universities Commission for their cooperation toward the success of the programme.
“The Federal Government through the NUC, has allowed all Nigerian Universities, irrespective of proprietorship, to participate in the project,’’ he said.
The minister reiterated the Federal Government’s desire to continue to sustain the project beyond its initial life cycle.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors in 2014 approved US$150 million to finance 19 university-based Centers of Excellence in seven countries in West and Central Africa.
These competitively selected centres will receive funding for advanced specialised studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related disciplines, as well as in agriculture and health.
This landmark Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) project, which will equip young Africans with new scientific and technical skills, will be financed through IDA credits to the governments of Nigeria (US$70 million), Ghana (US$24 million), Senegal (US$16 million), Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Togo (US$8 million each).
The Gambia will also receive a US $2 million credit and a US$1 million grant to provide higher education, including short-term training, to students, faculty and civil servants through the 19 ACEs.
The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.
IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day.
Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 per cent of commitments going to Africa.