By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Sunday alerted that Federal Government is discouraging access to Public University Education in Nigeria by not doing anything to increase access to it.
ASUU Chairman at the University of Ibadan, Dr Deji Omole raised the alarm in Ibadan while reacting to a report in a national newspaper that about 197,050 qualified candidates were denied admission in just concluded admission into seven public varsities in Nigeria.
According to ASUU, “it is obvious that despite granting more licences to private universities in Nigeria, the choice destination of many Nigerian children are the public varsities that have been neglected for attention by the federal government.
Lamenting that only about 600,000 students managed into universities in Nigeria yearly out of average of 1.5million who purchase JAMB forms yearly, the union asked the Federal to increase its funding of the public Universities to give room for the admission of more students.
“If he federal government can employ more academic staff, increase funding for infrastructure to accommodate student and acquisition of up-to-date knowledge materials there is nothing stopping universities from increasing their yearly intakes. But varsities can’t increase their intake yet because when 12 or 15 academic staff are present in a department that needs 35 qualified staff, those present are already overburdened” he said.
Dr Omole added that “the few that are working are still owed earned academic earned allowances from 2011 to date” saying, ” so, instead of funding education, the government funds private hands. But those denied education access will become those government will pump money to fight insecurity in the future.”
ASUU pointed out that for instance, “there is nothing stopping the University of Ibadan from admitting up to 20,000 candidates if the government increased funding for its overstretched infrastructure, overlaboured lecturers and incondusive working environment”.
The union stressed further that the NEEDS assessment conducted by government had clearly shown that most public varsities lacked infrastructure that could make them deliver fully on their mandates of teaching, researching and community servicing, adding that it has become obvious that a parent who sends his wards to private university as a civil servant must either be into another business or engrossed in corrupt activities.
ASUU lamented that rather than increase budgetary allocation to education, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari that promised 15 percent in their manifestoes during campaign dragged it downwards to about 7percent instead of the minimum of 26percent suggested by UNESCO to government.
“When a government fails to take the right steps in the present, it will live to regret bad decisions in the future. This government has not done enough to give the children of the masses access to quality public education which they all enjoyed.”