Heads of the Nigerian Universities under the aegis of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) have called for the elimination of strikes in the nation’s tertiary institutions to bring about academic stability and national development.
Chairman of the Association, Professor Debo Adeyewa, and the Vice-Chancellor, Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, Professor AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, stated this while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 32nd Annual Conference of the AVCNU on Monday, October 9, 2017.
Hosted by KWASU between October 8 and 12, the conference was with the theme, “21st Century University Education in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges.”
The duo described strikes as antithetical to educational and national development, noting that all hands must be on deck to address the challenges that lead to strikes.
Decrying the high level of youth unemployment and employability of university graduates, they expressed the need for Nigerian universities to proffer solutions to national problems and lead the way in national development.
Adeyewa said, “Strikes are no options. They should be totally eliminated. But the government must do its bit by providing the financial resources to take care of the needs of the universities. Countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore were in the same position that we were many years ago. But they made significant investments in education and that is why they are where they are today.”
Reflecting on the previous deliberations of the conference, the AVCNU chair recalled that the Keffi declaration recommended guidelines for the award of honorary degrees, just as the 29th edition of the conference held at Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado-Ekiti, tackled the challenges of plagiarism.
"We still have myriads of issues confronting tertiary education in this country and the best group of people equipped to discuss this is the Vice-Chancellors of our ivory towers. The best place to discuss these issues is KWASU, Malete," he declared.
"The entrepreneurship, quality assurance, relevance to sustainable development, including the challenge of climate change, leveraging on ICT and Open Education Resources and International collaboration in the Nigerian University System are issues all on the front burner," he stressed.
To Na’Allah, “We need to tell the truth to ourselves: If we are determined to have 21st Century University (Education in Nigeria), which is the theme of our conference, we must desist from the current scenario where universities are closed forever.
“We have to have the courage of insisting that our universities are not theatres for strikes. Instead, they are theatres for research.
“This conference will not succeed if, at the end of the day, we do not bring solution the various problems and find ways to collaborate to move the university system forward; and how we will collaborate with the government to stop incessant strikes and closures in our universities.”
Also speaking at the ceremony, Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed of Kwara State, represented by the Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Aminat Ahmed, said that tertiary institutions were globally recognised as assemblers of talent, and unmatched idea factories; where the passion, creativity, and idealism of great minds, young and old, could be applied to problem-solving and advancing societal and economic well-being.
The governor noted that in view of global changes, there was a need for graduates with the right skills and mindsets to compete in the high-tech global knowledge economy.
“Consequently, it falls on educational institutions such as universities to ensure graduates are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills to enhance their productivity and promote economic growth,” he said.