The recent upgrade of Emmanuel Alayande College of Education (EACOED), Oyo, to a degree-awarding institution has increased the number of state-owned schools, raising fears of sustainability and adequate funding of these institutions.
The state’s former commissioner for education, Olasunkanmi Olaleye, said the decision was in line with the administration’s resolve to transform the sector to attain global standards.
He said the aim was to address the problem of inadequate teachers and how to produce competent educators with requisite pedagogical skills.
Alayande College of Education started as a Grade II Teacher’s College by the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.) in 1896. In 1976, the clamour for its upgrade to an NCE-awarding institution began. In October 1980, the state government acceded to the request by upgrading it to a campus of the then Oyo State College of Education, Ilesa. It became a full-fledged College of Education on October 1, 1985. It was later renamed Emmanuel Alayande College of Education during the administration of the late Lam Adesina.
The state also owns Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), First Technical University, Ibadan; The Polytechnic, Ibadan; Adeseun Ogundoyin Polytechnic, Eruwa; Oke-Ogun Polytechnic, Saki; College of Education, Lanlate, and Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igbo-Ora; as well as monotechnics, including College of Hygiene and Health Technology, Eleyele, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Ibadan.
In its 2021 budget, education got the sum of N56, 348, 375,635.55 out of N268 billion, which represented 21 per cent of the total budget. How far can this allocation go in meeting the needs of these institutions?
Oleleye said the upgrade would give Oyo indigenes access to qualitative university education.
Already, the commissioner said facilities for the smooth take-off of the university have been put in place and are only awaiting the nod of the National Universities Commission (NUC).
The commissioner said: “We are working on the takeoff of the school. The application has been submitted to NUC. We have directed the body working on it to do so. The school has virtually all the facilities a university needs to operate in terms of manpower and infrastructure. Already, the state government has approved the policy but we have to work with the federal agency as well.”
On funding, the commissioner said apart from monthly subvention, budgetary provision for capital projects will continue.
Besides, Olaleye said the school is currently running degree programmes in affiliation with another institution, adding that revenue from there and tuition by students would be used to run the school.
But stakeholders have expressed concern over the development. Considering its meagre resources, they expressed fears that the state may not be able to adequately fund the institution, coming few months after taking sole ownership of LAUTECH.
While some stakeholders argued that attention should have been on how to strengthen existing institutions through improved funding and massive infrastructural development, others believe the state is capable of adequately funding these schools.
An analyst and lecturer at the University of Ibadan (UI), Dr. Gani Adeniran, lauded Makinde for the gesture and expressed confidence in the ability of the government to fund the institution.
The academic said: “When there is the will, there will be away. Oyo State can finance the new university. I am sure that the host community will also lend support. Recall Ajayi Crowther University (ACU) Oyo, started from the College of Education. My concern really is, people may still want to have the College of Education as well as the university as it happened in Ogun State.
“The governor has done extremely well and judicious in the use of the state’s finances, with very little left for politicians to loot or squander. Let him continue, posterity will judge him very well.”
Also, a Professor of Educational Evaluation at the Institute of Education, UI, Adams Onuka, said Nigeria needs more universities to cater for its teeming youths. He maintained that if the government is ready to fund it, it is a lofty development.
Prof. Onuka said: “I don’t think it is anything extraordinary because I am not sure we really have sufficient teachers to cover our secondary and even primary schools. For instance, in South Korea, they have two universities of education that are meant for training only primary school teachers and they don’t even do post-graduate. If you want to do that, then you go to a conventional university.
“There is no doubt that we need more universities of education because as time goes on, a first degree will become the minimum requirement for teaching in basic education. If that is the case, there is no way that colleges will not become universities of education in the nearest future.”
Onuka said the problem with Nigerian universities is not because they are too many but established from a political perspective without due consideration for funding.
He noted that upgrading should go beyond the name to include facilities and teachers. “It could mean the recruitment of higher teachers. This is because you don’t just convert lecturers to professors because they have been there as chief lecturers. It means you need to “import” professors to mentor people. Besides, some have to be given conversion training to be able to teach in the university. I’m not sure if these were taken into consideration.
“When an institution is being upgraded, everything will be involved. The content in the university curriculum is different from what you have in the National Certificate of Education (NCE). There is nothing wrong with upgrading institutions if all the conditions are taken into consideration. In this case, governor Makinde has taken all into consideration and he’s prepared to adequately fund it so that the school will take off on a sound footing, otherwise, we will be creating more problems.”
For Dr. Christina Ojo of the Faculty of Education, University of Lagos (UNILAG), higher institutions cannot be too many.
Ojo pointed out that a state in the United States has about 50 tertiary institutions; so, adding one to the tertiary institutions in Oyo state is not an aberration.
Speaking on the benefits of the step, the university teacher said: “The school would be able to absorb the already qualified PhD holders without gainful and relevant employment. The newly upgraded college will be able to award degrees and the internally generated revenue that the Ekiti satellite campus of Alayande College has usurped would go to the rightful owner. We are gradually moving to a first degree as an entry point in all sectors. It is also a way of creating jobs for citizens.”
On funding, Ojo said the government can ensure that the institution generates funds to sustain itself and meet its needs while it provides 50 per cent of its required funds.
However, Prof. Adenike Ogunshe said the massive “politicisation” of education in the country, instead of proper 21st Century academic planning, has made tertiary education so deplorable and caricature of teaching and learning.
Ogunshe said to convert Alayande College to the University of Education does not seem holistically planned, as it should be.
“We are not only in the 21st Century but Post-COVID-19 era, where education and every other facet of life will never be the same again. Also, from an academic planning perspective, an announcement of upgrading to university should have been the last stage, after other necessary related factors, such as archival, structural, human -resources (staff and students), particularly capacity building, digitalised education, competitive curricular commensurate with international standards, enrolment structures, standard education research laboratories, quality control and quality assurance directorates, and funding among others have been concretised.
“Having a University of Education at this period means an institution that must meet or be close to 21st Century university. Considering global COVID-19 induced economic crash, and Nigeria being poverty capital of the world, proper and adequate funding of such an institution at this time would be quite expensive, especially with funding of other tertiary institutions in the country,” Ogunshe stated.
The university teacher added that the academic staff to administer such a young institution must be specially recruited and trained specially in some cases, which is also financially intensive.
All said and done, it remains to be seen how the Seyi Makinde-led administration will use the new University of Education to make a strong case and prove critics wrong.