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FLIP-FLOP POLICIES ON EDUCATION

By NBF News
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The recent decision by the Federal Government to scrap specialized universities and monotechnics in the country is uncalled for and would not in any way advance our scientific and technological growth.

Rather, it has again brought to the fore the policy inconsistency of the Federal Ministry of Education in recent times. Perhaps, the new move has taken such policy shifts to a ridiculous height.

According to the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruquyyatu Rufa'i, the affected institutions include all universities of agriculture, universities of technology, colleges of agriculture, marine and fisheries.

Also, the minister explained that the affected institutions had been ordered to diversify and expand their operations while at the same time maintain their specialty and focus. President Goodluck Jonathan was, however, recently quoted that the institutions were not being scrapped. This further reinforces the policy confusion in the education sector.

No matter what government intends to achieve, we decry frequent policy somersaults in the nation's education sector. Such unnecessary changes since 1999 till date have not appreciably contributed to the development of the sector.

In fact, there is nothing wrong with operating of specialized universities, and by extension, monotechnics. The universities of agriculture and their technology counterparts were established to train manpower in these areas to satisfy specific needs. And we still need the specialized professionals that these institutions produce.

Nigeria as at now cannot claim that these institutions have served the purpose for their establishment, and therefore no longer necessary. Rather, the reverse is actually the case as we still lag behind in agriculture and technology. In America, where we tend to copy most of our policies, they are still running specialized universities as well as the conventional ones.

Instead of scrapping these institutions, let them be made to excel in the areas of core competence for which they were established. The question of making the universities to be conventional does not arise at all.

Nigeria currently has many conventional universities. Making the specialized universities to toe the same line would greatly vitiate the purpose for which they were established in the first place.

Similarly, the monotechnics were established to specialize in an area of need, which the country still needs in its quest for technological growth and advancement. They should not be scrapped just for the sake of change.

India and other countries that have joined the scientific and technological orbit of the world did so through specialized universities. Today, India earns much of its foreign exchange from software export. Yet, the country got the technological breakthrough via specialized education in science and technology. Nigeria can do likewise.

The Minister of Education should drop the idea of scrapping of specialized universities and monotechnics considering the fact that the nation has not achieved the objectives for which these institutions were established. The recourse by ministers in the education ministry to undo what their predecessors in office had done is unhealthy to our overall development.

These unwarranted changes rather than uplift the education sector are seriously undermining its progress. We condemn in its entirety this attempt to further degrade our education system through policy change. It is a bad and retrogressive idea. It does not bode well for the sector or the institutions concerned. In all, let government consolidate the specialized universities and monotechnics. That is the only way the country can really make technological progress.