Ekweremadu Wants 26% Budgetary Allocation To Education Sector

Source: EMMA UCHE, THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, October 23, (THEWILL) - The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has canvassed increased funding for the education sector as a prerequisite for revamping the educational system and accelerating Nigeria’s quest for national development.

Senator Ekweremadu made the call at the 17th and 18th Convocation ceremony of the University of Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State over the weekend where he also bagged an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.

Ekweremadu who said Nigeria could hardly make the desired developmental leaps so long as tertiary and other levels of education remained underfunded said that in the contemporary knowledge-driven world economy, only nations which put their educational sector on strong footing stood any chances of achieving or sustaining socio-economic prosperity.

“We need education that optimises the ingenuity of our people and galvanises our collective resources for national development”, he said, stressing that Nigeria remained in dire need of that calibre of education that would provide practical answers to her numerous challenges as a nation and transform her students from future armies of job-seeking graduates to job creators.

The Deputy President of Senate said quality, free and compulsory basic education had become imperative because unless the supply chain of the tertiary educational system, namely primary and secondary education, churn out pupils who are well prepared for independent and vocational life as well as higher academic pursuits, the tertiary institutions themselves would continue to roll out graduates who are ill-equipped for the challenges of personal survival and national development.

Senator Ekweremadu described as a national embarrassment a situation where many Nigerian students receive free super quality education in several countries around the world such as in the Nordic region, yet they could not boast of the same in their fatherland.

He said the nation could afford free or at least a highly affordable quality tertiary education if concerted steps were taken to cut down on waste, plug the holes of corruption, and get the nation’s priorities right.

“If we cannot do more, let us at least begin by ensuring that education gets at least 26% of our budgets, being the benchmark set by UNESCO for nations willing to take educational development beyond the rhetoric”, he stressed.

Ekweremadu who further called on the organised private sector and public spirited individuals to support government in funding education as they would in turn benefit in the form of highly trained manpower, also canvassed a return to competitive learning as one of the pathways to academic excellence among the students, employability of the nation’s graduates, and crime reduction among students.

To this end, therefore, the Deputy President of the Senate instituted the Senator Ike Ekweremadu Overall Best Graduating Student Award and the Senator Ike Ekweremadu Best Graduating Law Student Award in the University of Uyo with cash rewards of N500,000 (Five hundred thousand naira) and N300,000 (Three hundred thousand naira), respectively.

Earlier in his address, the Chancellor of the University and Emir of Fika, Alhaji Muhammed Idrissa called for the entrenchment of entrepreneurial skills and overhaul of educational curriculum from archaic colonial systems to one that addresses the changing needs in national development agenda and in the global arena. This, he said, would translate to the requisite national transformation and development.

Also speaking at the event, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Comfort Ekpo said the University had made tremendous strides in quality education, but described paucity of funds as a major setback in raising the requisite infrastructure for conducive atmosphere for knowledge acquisition in the 21st century. She therefore called on governments and the private sector to step up funding for the education sector.

The convocation which was graced by the cream of the Nigerian society including the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark who led over 82 Senators, Ministers and many other top government functionaries and members of the diplomatic corps, also saw the Chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma and the Managing Director and Country Chairman of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, Dr. Mutiu Sunmonu conferred with honorary doctorate degrees.