The Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Ilorin, Prof. Solomon Adekunle Olorundare, has commended President Goodluck Jonathan on the disbursement of N200 billion revitalisation fund to public universities in the country.
Prof. Olorundare, who gave the commendation in an interview with Unilorin Bulletin last Tuesday (February 18, 2014), noted that the revitalisation fund would bring a lot of improvement to the infrastructure of Federal and State Universities across the country.
The Federal Government, last Monday (February 17, 2014), disbursed the funds to Vice Chancellors of public universities in line with the recent agreement between it and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Prof. Olorundare said, “We need to commend the government though it took a lot of pressure before it allowed that type of decision to be taken but the government took the decision and it has backed it up with appropriate action. We also need to commend the ASUU leadership because you know what would have happened if ASUU had kept quiet; this money would not have been promised, let alone released.”
The don noted that if the fund is wisely utilised, “we will see the effect not only on the infrastructure but on the way and manner people conduct their academic business” stressing that “if you have good infrastructure, very excellent learning environment, it will impact positively on both the lecturers and the students and all of our colleagues who do a lot of experimental research definitely will be happy.”
Prof. Olorundare pointed out that the government has the overall responsibility to ensure accountability by monitoring the utilisation of funds in the tertiary education sector. He, however, stressed the need to urgently address the lower levels of primary and secondary education, especially in the area of science, in order to promote the overall quality of education in the country.
The Dean said, “There is the need to go back to the primary and secondary school levels. Apart from the fact that most of the schools don’t have very good laboratories, those that have laboratories don’t have functioning equipment. How do you develop people who are going to go to the universities?”
“They usually say garbage in, garbage out. You cannot expect excellent science students unless it starts from where it ought to start. The teaching and learning of science at that level is still not what it ought to be. Apart from the fact that we lack adequate number of qualified teachers, you discover also that the facilities are still not there. Some of the state governments are trying but it is not just to build buildings, you have to ensure that the teachers who implement the curriculum there are not only properly trained but also their welfare are properly taken care of.”
Prof. Olorundare lamented that “there is so much talk on the part of the government and very little or no positive action to see that the primary school is given the place it deserves. Look at the Universal Basic Education (UBE), it is a lot of money; billions of naira are being spent by the Federal Government for primary education but you can’t really see the effect. The funds are not just properly utilised.”
The Professor of Science Education maintained that this situation portends great danger for the country because, according to him, “we are going to produce people who are scientifically illiterate and that is a big problem in future because you now produce politicians and leaders who go to the national level and take decisions that they don’t know anything about. They are just politicians and you need people who are well informed.”
The scholar, however, contradicted the argument that the revitalisation fund could check brain drain in the country, saying, “This money they have released cannot address anything about brain drain but they have to start somewhere. What the government is trying to do now is to build up trust again in the education sector by releasing money, let it be properly managed. When that is done, I think we can now be talking about bringing in people from outside.” (UNILORIN)