By Dayo Adesulu
Former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC), and UNESCO consultant, Professor Peter Okebukola has said that the dividend of the ASUU strike will be huge in the universities.
Okebukola who disclosed this while speaking on the issues that would posibly shape the sector in 2019 said: ‘’The dividend of the ASUU strike will be huge injection of more funds into our universities.’’
According to him, the declaration of a state of emergency in the system will also cause states and the Federal Government to pay more attention to the sector, adding that 2019 will turn out to be one of the best years in funding education in Nigeria in recent times.
He pointed out that because of improved funding, there will be marked improvements in schools and universities in physical resourcing and welfare of staff in the universities will also be enhanced. These, he noted, will translate into improved productivity in the system and more likely than not, improvement in quality in the delivery of education at all levels.
Okebukola who was optimistic of transformation in the entire sector posited that this year will see to the attainment of not less than 60 per cent of the objectives of the Ministerial Strategic Plan 2016-2019.
Looking at the indices that surround his predictions, he said: “January 2019 will also witness the formal launch of the Rasheed Revitalisation Blueprint for Nigerian Universities and the active pursuit of its targets on access, quality, governance, research and innovation, curriculum renewal, ICT deployment and reduction in academic corruption.
“As shown by trends in election years, the 2019 general elections will impact positively on the education sector as the winners will strive to impress by trying to fulfil their election promises to the citizenry in the first year of assuming the reins of power or renewing their mandate.
“Thereafter, we cannot be too sure as our politicians are too quick to forget promises they make to the electorate.”
He maintained that this year will not see a significant drop in the number of out-of-school children in view of the recent rise in insurgent activities in the North-East, adding that the President is taking steps to address the challenge and our armed forces are gallantly winning the battle.
The seventh forecast is that more private universities will be licensed in 2019 (at least four) to further enhance the carrying capacity of the system. NUC will sharpen its quality assurance teeth in 2019 and implement codes of good practice in governance and quality delivery of conventional and open and distance learning systems.
On security and safety in schools, the former scribe said: “The National Policy on Safety and Security in Schools in Nigeria will mitigate the insecurity in the education sector.
“It is important to augment the services of uniformed security officers in our schools with other security measures such as establishment of vigilante groups and community neighborhood watch.
“The re-establishment of State Education Development Fund, SEDFund and other funds to create additional and sustainable funding source to improve education service delivery in post-basic schools for the achievement of 2030 Agenda.
“Reduction in incidence of sexual harassment in our schools especially in our universities brought about by the national searchlight on the phenomenon and the well-publicised sanctions on persons caught in the act.’’
Speaking in retrospect, he agreed that the education sector made some remarkable progress in 201 8.
His words: “Towards the close of the year, government at all levels declared a state of emergency on education. Government also reduced the cost of purchase of JAMB and NECO examination forms to the joy of candidates and their parents. In 2018, the model of public service accountability and transparency was also a feature of the Oloyede-led JAMB. JAMB emerged the gold standard in the use of public funds and the conduct of public examinations.
“On the downside, the issue of the large army of out-of-school children continued to linger; so also is the generally-poor performance of students in the senior school certificate examinations.”
He, however, added that a spate of strikes by academic staff unions in tertiary institutions dimmed the otherwise bright horizon when the year ended.