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ࡱ> %` )tbjbjٕ .)lt</+/-/-/-/-/-/-/$b0h2Q/)))Q/f/...)V+/.)+/... Lm+.+/|/0/.^3?-6^3.^3..o"[%Q/Q/u. /))))D System Performance and Sustainability of Higher Education in Nigeria Tokunbo Simbowale Osinubi Department of Economics, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. E-mail:  HYPERLINK "mailto:tokunbosinubi@yahoo.co.uk" tokunbosinubi@yahoo.co.uk Introduction General opinion about Nigerias education system in recent times is that it has not been performingat the standard expected of it. Indeed, the complaint is that the performance is on the decline. Ekaete (2001), in his address to the Convocation of the University of Uyo, Nigeria, pointed out that a major decline is the nations education system. Failure to achieve its basic objectives will obviously impact adversely on all other indices, he suggested. It will hinder the Nations march towards prosperity, progress and stability. There is no question about the importance of education to national development. At issue however are the policy thrusts of government, the management of resources within the educational sector, and the attitude of the participants in the sector (administrators, staff and students). Particularly troubling is the fact that, despite massive funds injected into education (albeit inadequate), the latter does not seem to have benefited much. Or at least has not responded in a way that would show it has received positive impetus from increased funding. The objective of this article is therefore, to take a fresh look at the issues involved, to identify and analyse the main factors working against positive system performance and to make suggestions on system adaptability with a view to ensuring sustainability and averting total collapse. It concentrates on the higher educational system in Nigeria. Growth of Higher Education in Nigeria No analyses of higher education in Nigeria could be undertaken without placing in perspective its historical development. The Nigerian University system, after the establishment of one University College in Ibadan in 1948, followed 14 years later by the establishment of four additional universities, underwent a rate of growth, which could only be described as unusual. Between 1962 and 1998, the number of Universities in Nigeria grew from 5 to 37. Students enrolment rose from 3,545 students to approximately 350,000. Similar rates of growth occurred elsewhere in higher education. The Federal Government of Nigeria, to show the high value it placed on education and particularly higher education, committed massive funds to the education sector. However, the model of development chosen was very wasteful and contributed partly to the decline recently undergone by higher education. A large proportion of the funds were spent on developing new campuses. Apart from the cost of opening up these isolated locations and the costs of construction, large sums were spent on providing municipal facilities and services. This strategy of development involved building new towns with a larger proportion of funds committed to their physical development and a relatively smaller proportion devoted to academic infrastructure. The upkeep of municipal plants is expensive and is often undertaken by depriving academic programmes of much needed funds. The gradual decline of academic work and especially the quality of higher education has followed in the wake of the neglect of libraries, laboratories, teaching equipment and other resources which at the outset allowed universities to uphold high academic standards. Higher Education: In Decline and in Bad Odour? The decline of the higher education system and bad odour in which it is held cannot be blamed wholly on the lack of funds for academic work. Other contributing factors include the quality of the student outflow from secondary education from which higher education draws its basic human resources. Quality of output cannot be debated without tackling quality of input. Furthermore, the rapid expansion of higher education paid more attention to quantity than quality. Nor is this limited to students. Many academic and senior administrative staff recruited to run the institutions are no longer as qualified or as devoted to duty as those who oversaw the first generation universities, polytechnics and colleges prior to the era of expansion. Growth in higher education was based largely on political consideration rather than on of virtually raidinginst itutions of higher education in search of persons to be appointed to political posts in government. This has had the effect of depriving institutions of indispensable, and experienced, human resources, all too often in short supply and produced at great cost. Such a practice has secondary effects as well. Those left behind find their work-loads spiraling beyond their capacity to cope with the demands of a growing student population. Furthermore, teachers at all levels are poorly paid. With their salaries often months in arrears, they are forced to seek ways of earning additional income to support their families. Indeed, it is precisely this poor remuneration that makes government employment so attractive to the staff of these institutions who, in lobbying for political positions, weaken the standing, credibility and viability of the entire higher education system. Poor social conditions in higher education have negative effects on the general state of higher education. Motivation of students is not what it used to be. Unlike the prospects that were theirs in the days gone by, todays graduates of universities and polytechnics have little chance of securing suit able jobs at the end of their studies, given the parlous state of the economy. What incentive is there for students to apply themselves seriously to their studies? Moreover, political instability and its disruptive impact on the educational system is not conducive to upholding high standards. Students and staff were often involved in social and political agitation to the detriment of academic work. Academic staff find unionizing necessary if they are to get a living wage and a reasonable working environment. Thus, valuable time and energy are devoted to securing these conditions with the consequent neglect of academic obligations. Once strikes end, students are rushed through their academic programmes so they can graduate and receive certificates and diplomas. For their part, students are no longer inclined to exert themselves, still less to obtain high-quality education or to achieve academic and professional excellence. The government, for its part, looks upon the higher education system as a sea of troubles and no longer deserving of the high regard accorded it in the past. There is little love lost between higher education and government. David-West (1998), in his lecture commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the University of Ibadan (Nigeria), pointed out that higher education and particularly the university were not insulated from the political upheavals that had convulsed the nation. He went on to dwell nostalgically on a period of bloom in Nigerias university system in these terms; In the period of bloom, we had real academic excellence, real international respect. Academic standards were high and never compromised. The staffstudent ratio was high. There was discipline. There was self-esteem. The social life was polished. Devotion and dedication to scholarship was high. There were no academic-contractors. No academic stragglers. No squatters (academic frauds). Promotions were on merit. Degrees or Diplomas were deserved. David-West (1998) called attention to the need to take full cognisance of the lurking demon of decadence, a prelude to collapse. In education, and very certainly in Higher Education, the effects of neglect are not immediately felt, still less rapidly appreciated. However, once these effects become obvious, much damage has already been wrought. Agreed, the Nigerian nation recognizes the importance education has on national development. But, it is not clear whether the level of resources committed or the way in which they are applied quite match our desire for education. Furthermore, content of education is very often different from the appearance of education, a feature that is very important in determining the direction and quality of development. Given the arguments just made, evidently the higher education system is not currently performingto the standard expected by society. It is in danger of becoming obsolete and irrelevant. System collapse may be imminent. What are the factors that account for this sorry state of affairs? What has to be done to avoid the threat of system collapse? Structural Inadequacies Nigerias educational system is structured so as to facilitate transition from one level to the next. This is alright as long as each level performs its role adequately. It is, therefore, essential that each subsystem, primary and secondary, performs to specification. Failure at one level translates into undue pressure on the next as those graduating from it move upwards. Carmen (1996) in his study compared the education system to a train, travelling along a single track bound for a single destination. At certain points along the way, it ejects some of its passengers without stopping! Evidence abounds to show that, at virtually every level, the system has performed rather poorly. We will focus our searchlight on articulation with higher education, that is, the link point between secondary and tertiary levels. According to the government report National Policy on Education in Nigeria (1998), the secondary level has failed to offer a curriculum sufficiently diversified to cater to the differences in talents, opportunities and future roles of Nigerias young people. It has failed to provide trained manpower in the applied science, technology and commerce at sub-professional grades. It lacks the capacity to provide technical knowledge and vocational skills that are required for agricultural, industrial, commercial and economic development. The secondary education sub-system is simply not equipped to perform these functions adequately. Poor staffing and poor facilities constitute a major impediment to system performance. Students are prepared for academic work only, that is, book learning. Even this is not well done, as performance levels revealed by the West African Examination Council indicate. Graduates of senior secondary education are generally ill-prepared for the requirements of the tertiary sector. Particularly, troubling is that pupils from the lower levels of the school system are increasingly of lower quality (Adesola, 1998). The quality of output at the higher level can only improve provided the quality of incoming students improves. Efforts to hold the deteriorating performance of higher education at bay must include improvements to education at the lower levels. Part of the problem with staffing arises from the current status of teachers. Poor remuneration and poor condition of services, compounded by the low esteem of the teaching profession especially at the primary and post-primary levels, are a severe disincentive. In the past, the best among graduates were recruited to the teaching profession. Today, only those who cannot secure other employment accept posts in teaching and even then they stay in the teaching profession biding their time until a better job comes their way. For such persons, the teaching profession is just a stepping-stone, a temporary tent, to be abandoned at the slightest opportunity. There is no job commitment. Despite the clarion call of the National Policy on Education (1998) that education shall continue to be central in national development plans and that education is the important instrument of change, those who do the job, teachers, are treated as foot mats to be trampled on. Such treatment of teachers can only result in poor staffing in educational institutions. This in turn is reflected in the quality of their students. Dissonance Dissonance between policy statement and practice is not limited to the treatment of teachers. Students are also the butt of inconsistencies in the educational system. The National Policy on Education (1998) states that the transition from junior secondary to senior secondary education should be based on differences in academic ability, aptitude and vocational interest. In reality, the technical and vocational streams are perceived as dumping grounds for academic failures referred to as dropouts. Such tracks and streams are, most assuredly, not destinations of choice. Facilities for evaluating aptitude and vocational interest are generally non-existent. Very few students benefit from guidance and counselling facilities. Both perception and practice reflect negatively on the quality of intake into polytechnics and colleges of education considered second-rate compared to the university. Such a perception is reinforced by the lower rating of students from polytechnics and colleges of education. Even where starting salary is the same as for university first-degree graduates, the limit on how far they can rise in the occupational hierarchy acts as a disincentive and brings further pressure to bear on the university system. Abdullahi (1982) commented on the relationship between the universities and other components of the higher education sector. As the acquisition of paper qualifications often alluded to elsewhere as the Paper Qualification Syndrome or PQS by Carmen (1996) commands undue importance in Nigeria; the pressure on the university system is bound to continue to be severe unless measures are taken to alleviate it. There is further evidence of this condition. Comet Newspaper (2001) reported a representative of teachers in one of Nigerias polytechnics as decrying a situation when, after 5 years of study for the Higher National Diploma (HND), graduates were compelled to spend 3 years more to obtain a first degree from the University. The impression is common-place that university education is the only way to get ahead in society, a view that compounds the problems of the university by exacerbating overload and system malfunction. Policy of Mass Education Both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Policy on Education emphasize the fundamental obligation to ensure equality of educational opportunities to all Nigerians. The provision of free and compulsory education at the primary level and free education at the secondary level are non-negotiable minimum conditions. Providing free education at the university level, however, is subject to debate. Is it desirable? How far it is compatible with the sustainability of the higher education system? Various approaches to providing mass education especially at the tertiary level will be analysed later in the section dealing with policy recommendations. Suffice it to say here that the stricture on publicly funded federal universities not to charge tuition fees prevents them from realizing their potential and stands at the root of some of the problems, which confront universities today. General Malaise in Society The civil war, the era of military rule and the general feeling of injustice and insecurity have been, literally, deeply demoralizing to society in general. The educational system is not immune to this. Moral decadence is the rule rather than the exemption. Adesola (1998) has commented on the presence of formal decadence in Nigerian society. Citing recent events in Nigeria, which revealed one former Head of State and his bodyguards engaged in removing large sums of public money while essential services, including education, were starved of basic funds, Adesola (1998) went further and suggested that government had been hijacked by armed robbers. Recent disclosures about the level of corruption in government and society are indeed astounding. Little wonder that students and staff in our higher educational institutions are involved in examination malpractice and other acts of moral dubiousness. Higher education, as the apex of the education system in its entirety, must, however, accept some responsibility. Indeed, most of those playing the system are products of higher education. Looking to the Future: System Performance The purpose of higher education clearly extends beyond the trinity of teaching, research and service taken at their face value. It involves the education of the individual to understand society, achieve academic and technical competence in selected fields, to explore cultural interests and enhance cultural skills; advancing human capability in society at large through creating and disseminating new ideas and new technology; training talent and enhancing information, understanding and cultural appreciation of the public at large. And, finally, by supporting intellectual and artistic creativity and evaluating society critically for self-renewal through individual thought and persuasion. Adalemo (1997) argued that universities have to submit to the scrutiny of the society that funds them especially by accountingfor the efficient performance of the higher education system. The higher education system must be clear about what the society expects of it. Arguably, however, Nigerian society has made this known, through the policy on education document. Often, however, formally stated requirements are rendered unclear and opaque by later statements and directives issued by government and its agents. Thus, in the area of research for instance, it is not clear how far society is aware of the limitations and constraints that face institutions of higher education especially in resources and facilities available to them. The universities, for instance, are best placed to undertake basic research. The polytechnics could, with some effort, undertake applied research. Society, however, looks to concrete results and often criticizes the educational system for producing intangible results. This is a case of misplaced expectation, which leads on to evaluating system performance upon unrealistic premises. More realistically, the intangible results of the universitys efforts could be handled by other intermediary bodies or institutes whose products are taken up and applied to the productive process by industrial and commercial establishments. The current situation in Nigeria is one in which such a chain or network linking university to incubator bodies and incubator bodies to industry is either not available, incomplete or nonfunctional. Many research results, therefore, lie on shelves gathering dust. It is not the duty of universities, however, to transform these into saleable products. Even as producers of high-level human resources, universities are not entirely to blame for the quality of what they produce. Earlier, it was pointed out that poor intake quality makes it difficult for institutions to improve in any appreciable way what they receive, given the inadequate resources at their disposal. If and when the mechanism of incentives in the economy emphasizes performance-on-job rather than the academic attainment, students will come alive to the need to acquire usable skills. More to the point, higher education institutions will be properly evaluated on the basis of the quality of human resources they certify. Sustainability of Higher Education Sustainability has been discussed many times over. It has been stated quite clearly that government cannot provide all the resources that higher education needs to carry out its roles adequately. Universities particularly have been directed to find ways of raising funds to supplement what government is able to provide. Yet, government has forbidden institutions to charge tuition fees. It has also limited the amount chargeable on university-provided accommodation. Certainly, government is trying its best in the face of competing demands from other sectors to provide funds for education. Because of the policy of equal access, it has adopted the mass approach to education. This puts great pressure on government resources. Every sub-sector of the education system complains of inadequacy of the resources available and all of them are almost totally dependent on government. Maintaining the physical facilities of universities alone requires very substantial sums of money. In a situation in which resources are scarce, avoiding over-commitment is a reasonable policy. That the Federal Government has assumed responsibility for practically all levels of education merely adds to government over-load and over-extension. Evidently, the situation deserves reviewing. Primary education is too important to be left to the vagaries of local government administration especially when it is characterized by incompetence and inadequate performance in its duties. It is the foundation of the educational system and unless the foundation is well laid, the super-structure may be endangered. Secondary education is equally important. To revert to the analogy of the train running on a single track and dropping off its passengers along the route without stopping, secondary education should equip its inmates with necessary skills to make a living and contribute meaningfully to society. Only a few, destined for leadership positions, should move on to the tertiary level. It should not be absolutely necessary to go to the university simply to earn a living. With such a scenario, to concentrate government resources on the needs of primary and secondary education and make them tuition free, appears reasonable. Tertiary level education should not be tuition free. It consumes a considerable proportion of resources that otherwise could be freed primary and secondary levels, and thus allow them to prepare students adequately for working life as well as for further education where needed. This view is unpopular. Yet, insistence on free education at all levels merely ensures that what we have is poor quality education at all levels. If we value high-quality education, we need to rethink the issue of free tuition at the tertiary level. Only on this condition can we ensure the sustainability of higher education. Summary and Conclusions This review of Nigerias education system from a development perspective leads us to the conclusion that collapse is imminent. Urgent action is required to avert disaster. Structural inadequacies threaten the ability of the system to perform. Neglect suffered by higher education is probably due to the fact that the effect of such neglect is not immediately observable or felt by society. Dissonance between policy statement and practice also plays its part in threatening quality. Emphasis on paper qualifications and the general malaise in society likewise contribute to the lowering of standards. Looking beyond these immediate problems and charting a way forward, some suggestions are advanced. There is advantage to be had from the development of communications and information technology. Distance education is a recognized means of coping with the rising demand for higher education while ensuring good quality and improving current standards. The potential of classrooms without walls and overcoming the constraints of distance are indeed very encouraging. Distance education should be adopted in complement to the conventional system. The existing physical infrastructure, which will anyway have to be maintained, should be utilized more effectively to support both modes of conventional and distance education. Care should be taken not to prevent individual institutions from developing specialist programmes, while sharing of resources should be encouraged. Finally, government should allow higher educational institutions to charge tuition fees and realistic accommodation fees in order to ensure sustainability. Such an initiative would make valuable resources available for use at the lower levels of the education system. Improvements in achievement levels among those moving on from the primary and secondary levels would thus feed into the tertiary level. It would improve quality throughout the entire system. Were these suggestions to be given serious consideration as a constructive and sustainable response to the crisis in Nigerian higher educational, the imminent threat of collapse may be averted. References Abdullahi, A. (1982) Structural Relationship between University System and Other Forms of Higher Education, in Adamu Baiki (ed.) Higher Education and Development, Benin City. Adalemo, I.A. (1987) The University of Lagos: Prospects and Challenges for the Future, in A.B. Aderibigbe, and T.G.O. Gbadamosi (eds.) A History of the University of Lagos, 19621987, Lagos: University of Lagos Press. Adalemo, I.A. and Baba, J.M. (eds.) (1993) Nigeria, Giant in the Tropics: A compendium, Lagos:Gabunmo Press. Adalemo, I.A. et al. (1997) Higher Education in Nigeria, Report of the University of the Lagos Emergency Committee on Higher Education Submitted to the Vice-Chancellor, February Typescript. Adeniyi, E.O. and Ritilola, S.O. (eds.) (1985) Leadership and National Development, Ibadan: NISER. Adesola, A. (1998) Nigeria: Universities and a Nation in Crisis, Distinguished Alumni Lecture Universities of Lagos. Ajeyalemi, D. (ed.). (1990) Science Education and Technology Education in Africa, Yaba, Lagos:University of Lagos Press. Agunbiade, S. (2000) Distance Education (Editorial) in Education Today, Quarterly Journal of the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja. Angrist, S.W. and Loren, G.H. (1967) Order and Chaos Laws of Energy and Entropy, Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books Ltd. Axelrod, J. et al (eds.) (1968a) Search for Relevance, The Campus in Crisis, American Higher Education, Association for Higher Education, Jossey Bass Inc.: San Francisco, CA. Axelrod, J. et al (eds.) (1968b) Stress and Campus Response, Current Issues in Higher Education. American Association for Higher Education, San Francisco: Jossey-Boss Inc. Baikie, A. (ed.) (1982) Higher Education and Development in the Context of the Nigerian Constitution, The report of the Fifth Annual Seminar of the Committee of vice-hancellors of Nigerian Universities. University of Benin, Benin City. Carnegie Corporation (1994) Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, A Digest of Reports of the CCHE, New York: McGraw Hill for Carnegie Corporation. Carmen, R. (1996) Autonomous Development, London, Zed Books. The Comet (2001) Yaba College of Technology teachers kick against Foreign Rector, The Comet Newspapers, Sunday, 17th June, p. 3. David-West, T (1998) The Nigerian Academia: The Bloom, the Gloom, and the Doom, 50th Anniversary lecture, University of Ibadan Alumni Association, Lagos Branch, 26th October. Dhanarajan, G. (2000) Distance and open education: an overview, Education Today, Quarterly Journal of the Federal Ministry of Education, 3 December. Ekaete, U.J. (2001) Policy focus and value system in higher education, The Guardian, Lagos, June 18, pp. 5859. Fatunde, T (2000) UNESCOs initiative on distance education, The Guardian, Lagos, p. 47. Federal Ministry of Education (2000) Distance education, Education Today, a Quarterly Journal of the federal Ministry of Education, Abuja. 8 (3): December Special Edition. Federal Republic of Nigeria (1998) Annual Abstract of Statistics, 3rd edn Lagos: NERDS Press. Ogunleye, A.O. (1998) Science Education in Nigeria: Historical Development, Curriculum Reforms and Research, Lagos: Sunshine International Publishers Ltd. Toffler, A. 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ࡱ> %` )tbjbjٕ .)lt</+/-/-/-/-/-/-/$b0h2Q/)))Q/f/...)V+/.)+/... Lm+.+/|/0/.^3?-6^3.^3..o"[%Q/Q/u. /))))D System Performance and Sustainability of Higher Education in Nigeria Tokunbo Simbowale Osinubi Department of Economics, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. E-mail:  HYPERLINK "mailto:tokunbosinubi@yahoo.co.uk" tokunbosinubi@yahoo.co.uk Introduction General opinion about Nigerias education system in recent times is that it has not been performingat the standard expected of it. Indeed, the complaint is that the performance is on the decline. Ekaete (2001), in his address to the Convocation of the University of Uyo, Nigeria, pointed out that a major decline is the nations education system. Failure to achieve its basic objectives will obviously impact adversely on all other indices, he suggested. It will hinder the Nations march towards prosperity, progress and stability. There is no question about the importance of education to national development. At issue however are the policy thrusts of government, the management of resources within the educational sector, and the attitude of the participants in the sector (administrators, staff and students). Particularly troubling is the fact that, despite massive funds injected into education (albeit inadequate), the latter does not seem to have benefited much. Or at least has not responded in a way that would show it has received positive impetus from increased funding. The objective of this article is therefore, to take a fresh look at the issues involved, to identify and analyse the main factors working against positive system performance and to make suggestions on system adaptability with a view to ensuring sustainability and averting total collapse. It concentrates on the higher educational system in Nigeria. Growth of Higher Education in Nigeria No analyses of higher education in Nigeria could be undertaken without placing in perspective its historical development. The Nigerian University system, after the establishment of one University College in Ibadan in 1948, followed 14 years later by the establishment of four additional universities, underwent a rate of growth, which could only be described as unusual. Between 1962 and 1998, the number of Universities in Nigeria grew from 5 to 37. Students enrolment rose from 3,545 students to approximately 350,000. Similar rates of growth occurred elsewhere in higher education. The Federal Government of Nigeria, to show the high value it placed on education and particularly higher education, committed massive funds to the education sector. However, the model of development chosen was very wasteful and contributed partly to the decline recently undergone by higher education. A large proportion of the funds were spent on developing new campuses. Apart from the cost of opening up these isolated locations and the costs of construction, large sums were spent on providing municipal facilities and services. This strategy of development involved building new towns with a larger proportion of funds committed to their physical development and a relatively smaller proportion devoted to academic infrastructure. The upkeep of municipal plants is expensive and is often undertaken by depriving academic programmes of much needed funds. The gradual decline of academic work and especially the quality of higher education has followed in the wake of the neglect of libraries, laboratories, teaching equipment and other resources which at the outset allowed universities to uphold high academic standards. Higher Education: In Decline and in Bad Odour? The decline of the higher education system and bad odour in which it is held cannot be blamed wholly on the lack of funds for academic work. Other contributing factors include the quality of the student outflow from secondary education from which higher education draws its basic human resources. Quality of output cannot be debated without tackling quality of input. Furthermore, the rapid expansion of higher education paid more attention to quantity than quality. Nor is this limited to students. Many academic and senior administrative staff recruited to run the institutions are no longer as qualified or as devoted to duty as those who oversaw the first generation universities, polytechnics and colleges prior to the era of expansion. Growth in higher education was based largely on political consideration rather than on of virtually raidinginst itutions of higher education in search of persons to be appointed to political posts in government. This has had the effect of depriving institutions of indispensable, and experienced, human resources, all too often in short supply and produced at great cost. Such a practice has secondary effects as well. Those left behind find their work-loads spiraling beyond their capacity to cope with the demands of a growing student population. Furthermore, teachers at all levels are poorly paid. With their salaries often months in arrears, they are forced to seek ways of earning additional income to support their families. Indeed, it is precisely this poor remuneration that makes government employment so attractive to the staff of these institutions who, in lobbying for political positions, weaken the standing, credibility and viability of the entire higher education system. Poor social conditions in higher education have negative effects on the general state of higher education. Motivation of students is not what it used to be. Unlike the prospects that were theirs in the days gone by, todays graduates of universities and polytechnics have little chance of securing suit able jobs at the end of their studies, given the parlous state of the economy. What incentive is there for students to apply themselves seriously to their studies? Moreover, political instability and its disruptive impact on the educational system is not conducive to upholding high standards. Students and staff were often involved in social and political agitation to the detriment of academic work. Academic staff find unionizing necessary if they are to get a living wage and a reasonable working environment. Thus, valuable time and energy are devoted to securing these conditions with the consequent neglect of academic obligations. Once strikes end, students are rushed through their academic programmes so they can graduate and receive certificates and diplomas. For their part, students are no longer inclined to exert themselves, still less to obtain high-quality education or to achieve academic and professional excellence. The government, for its part, looks upon the higher education system as a sea of troubles and no longer deserving of the high regard accorded it in the past. There is little love lost between higher education and government. David-West (1998), in his lecture commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the University of Ibadan (Nigeria), pointed out that higher education and particularly the university were not insulated from the political upheavals that had convulsed the nation. He went on to dwell nostalgically on a period of bloom in Nigerias university system in these terms; In the period of bloom, we had real academic excellence, real international respect. Academic standards were high and never compromised. The staffstudent ratio was high. There was discipline. There was self-esteem. The social life was polished. Devotion and dedication to scholarship was high. There were no academic-contractors. No academic stragglers. No squatters (academic frauds). Promotions were on merit. Degrees or Diplomas were deserved. David-West (1998) called attention to the need to take full cognisance of the lurking demon of decadence, a prelude to collapse. In education, and very certainly in Higher Education, the effects of neglect are not immediately felt, still less rapidly appreciated. However, once these effects become obvious, much damage has already been wrought. Agreed, the Nigerian nation recognizes the importance education has on national development. But, it is not clear whether the level of resources committed or the way in which they are applied quite match our desire for education. Furthermore, content of education is very often different from the appearance of education, a feature that is very important in determining the direction and quality of development. Given the arguments just made, evidently the higher education system is not currently performingto the standard expected by society. It is in danger of becoming obsolete and irrelevant. System collapse may be imminent. What are the factors that account for this sorry state of affairs? What has to be done to avoid the threat of system collapse? Structural Inadequacies Nigerias educational system is structured so as to facilitate transition from one level to the next. This is alright as long as each level performs its role adequately. It is, therefore, essential that each subsystem, primary and secondary, performs to specification. Failure at one level translates into undue pressure on the next as those graduating from it move upwards. Carmen (1996) in his study compared the education system to a train, travelling along a single track bound for a single destination. At certain points along the way, it ejects some of its passengers without stopping! Evidence abounds to show that, at virtually every level, the system has performed rather poorly. We will focus our searchlight on articulation with higher education, that is, the link point between secondary and tertiary levels. According to the government report National Policy on Education in Nigeria (1998), the secondary level has failed to offer a curriculum sufficiently diversified to cater to the differences in talents, opportunities and future roles of Nigerias young people. It has failed to provide trained manpower in the applied science, technology and commerce at sub-professional grades. It lacks the capacity to provide technical knowledge and vocational skills that are required for agricultural, industrial, commercial and economic development. The secondary education sub-system is simply not equipped to perform these functions adequately. Poor staffing and poor facilities constitute a major impediment to system performance. Students are prepared for academic work only, that is, book learning. Even this is not well done, as performance levels revealed by the West African Examination Council indicate. Graduates of senior secondary education are generally ill-prepared for the requirements of the tertiary sector. Particularly, troubling is that pupils from the lower levels of the school system are increasingly of lower quality (Adesola, 1998). The quality of output at the higher level can only improve provided the quality of incoming students improves. Efforts to hold the deteriorating performance of higher education at bay must include improvements to education at the lower levels. Part of the problem with staffing arises from the current status of teachers. Poor remuneration and poor condition of services, compounded by the low esteem of the teaching profession especially at the primary and post-primary levels, are a severe disincentive. In the past, the best among graduates were recruited to the teaching profession. Today, only those who cannot secure other employment accept posts in teaching and even then they stay in the teaching profession biding their time until a better job comes their way. For such persons, the teaching profession is just a stepping-stone, a temporary tent, to be abandoned at the slightest opportunity. There is no job commitment. Despite the clarion call of the National Policy on Education (1998) that education shall continue to be central in national development plans and that education is the important instrument of change, those who do the job, teachers, are treated as foot mats to be trampled on. Such treatment of teachers can only result in poor staffing in educational institutions. This in turn is reflected in the quality of their students. Dissonance Dissonance between policy statement and practice is not limited to the treatment of teachers. Students are also the butt of inconsistencies in the educational system. The National Policy on Education (1998) states that the transition from junior secondary to senior secondary education should be based on differences in academic ability, aptitude and vocational interest. In reality, the technical and vocational streams are perceived as dumping grounds for academic failures referred to as dropouts. Such tracks and streams are, most assuredly, not destinations of choice. Facilities for evaluating aptitude and vocational interest are generally non-existent. Very few students benefit from guidance and counselling facilities. Both perception and practice reflect negatively on the quality of intake into polytechnics and colleges of education considered second-rate compared to the university. Such a perception is reinforced by the lower rating of students from polytechnics and colleges of education. Even where starting salary is the same as for university first-degree graduates, the limit on how far they can rise in the occupational hierarchy acts as a disincentive and brings further pressure to bear on the university system. Abdullahi (1982) commented on the relationship between the universities and other components of the higher education sector. As the acquisition of paper qualifications often alluded to elsewhere as the Paper Qualification Syndrome or PQS by Carmen (1996) commands undue importance in Nigeria; the pressure on the university system is bound to continue to be severe unless measures are taken to alleviate it. There is further evidence of this condition. Comet Newspaper (2001) reported a representative of teachers in one of Nigerias polytechnics as decrying a situation when, after 5 years of study for the Higher National Diploma (HND), graduates were compelled to spend 3 years more to obtain a first degree from the University. The impression is common-place that university education is the only way to get ahead in society, a view that compounds the problems of the university by exacerbating overload and system malfunction. Policy of Mass Education Both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Policy on Education emphasize the fundamental obligation to ensure equality of educational opportunities to all Nigerians. The provision of free and compulsory education at the primary level and free education at the secondary level are non-negotiable minimum conditions. Providing free education at the university level, however, is subject to debate. Is it desirable? How far it is compatible with the sustainability of the higher education system? Various approaches to providing mass education especially at the tertiary level will be analysed later in the section dealing with policy recommendations. Suffice it to say here that the stricture on publicly funded federal universities not to charge tuition fees prevents them from realizing their potential and stands at the root of some of the problems, which confront universities today. General Malaise in Society The civil war, the era of military rule and the general feeling of injustice and insecurity have been, literally, deeply demoralizing to society in general. The educational system is not immune to this. Moral decadence is the rule rather than the exemption. Adesola (1998) has commented on the presence of formal decadence in Nigerian society. Citing recent events in Nigeria, which revealed one former Head of State and his bodyguards engaged in removing large sums of public money while essential services, including education, were starved of basic funds, Adesola (1998) went further and suggested that government had been hijacked by armed robbers. Recent disclosures about the level of corruption in government and society are indeed astounding. Little wonder that students and staff in our higher educational institutions are involved in examination malpractice and other acts of moral dubiousness. Higher education, as the apex of the education system in its entirety, must, however, accept some responsibility. Indeed, most of those playing the system are products of higher education. Looking to the Future: System Performance The purpose of higher education clearly extends beyond the trinity of teaching, research and service taken at their face value. It involves the education of the individual to understand society, achieve academic and technical competence in selected fields, to explore cultural interests and enhance cultural skills; advancing human capability in society at large through creating and disseminating new ideas and new technology; training talent and enhancing information, understanding and cultural appreciation of the public at large. And, finally, by supporting intellectual and artistic creativity and evaluating society critically for self-renewal through individual thought and persuasion. Adalemo (1997) argued that universities have to submit to the scrutiny of the society that funds them especially by accountingfor the efficient performance of the higher education system. The higher education system must be clear about what the society expects of it. Arguably, however, Nigerian society has made this known, through the policy on education document. Often, however, formally stated requirements are rendered unclear and opaque by later statements and directives issued by government and its agents. Thus, in the area of research for instance, it is not clear how far society is aware of the limitations and constraints that face institutions of higher education especially in resources and facilities available to them. The universities, for instance, are best placed to undertake basic research. The polytechnics could, with some effort, undertake applied research. Society, however, looks to concrete results and often criticizes the educational system for producing intangible results. This is a case of misplaced expectation, which leads on to evaluating system performance upon unrealistic premises. More realistically, the intangible results of the universitys efforts could be handled by other intermediary bodies or institutes whose products are taken up and applied to the productive process by industrial and commercial establishments. The current situation in Nigeria is one in which such a chain or network linking university to incubator bodies and incubator bodies to industry is either not available, incomplete or nonfunctional. Many research results, therefore, lie on shelves gathering dust. It is not the duty of universities, however, to transform these into saleable products. Even as producers of high-level human resources, universities are not entirely to blame for the quality of what they produce. Earlier, it was pointed out that poor intake quality makes it difficult for institutions to improve in any appreciable way what they receive, given the inadequate resources at their disposal. If and when the mechanism of incentives in the economy emphasizes performance-on-job rather than the academic attainment, students will come alive to the need to acquire usable skills. More to the point, higher education institutions will be properly evaluated on the basis of the quality of human resources they certify. Sustainability of Higher Education Sustainability has been discussed many times over. It has been stated quite clearly that government cannot provide all the resources that higher education needs to carry out its roles adequately. Universities particularly have been directed to find ways of raising funds to supplement what government is able to provide. Yet, government has forbidden institutions to charge tuition fees. It has also limited the amount chargeable on university-provided accommodation. Certainly, government is trying its best in the face of competing demands from other sectors to provide funds for education. Because of the policy of equal access, it has adopted the mass approach to education. This puts great pressure on government resources. Every sub-sector of the education system complains of inadequacy of the resources available and all of them are almost totally dependent on government. Maintaining the physical facilities of universities alone requires very substantial sums of money. In a situation in which resources are scarce, avoiding over-commitment is a reasonable policy. That the Federal Government has assumed responsibility for practically all levels of education merely adds to government over-load and over-extension. Evidently, the situation deserves reviewing. Primary education is too important to be left to the vagaries of local government administration especially when it is characterized by incompetence and inadequate performance in its duties. It is the foundation of the educational system and unless the foundation is well laid, the super-structure may be endangered. Secondary education is equally important. To revert to the analogy of the train running on a single track and dropping off its passengers along the route without stopping, secondary education should equip its inmates with necessary skills to make a living and contribute meaningfully to society. Only a few, destined for leadership positions, should move on to the tertiary level. It should not be absolutely necessary to go to the university simply to earn a living. With such a scenario, to concentrate government resources on the needs of primary and secondary education and make them tuition free, appears reasonable. Tertiary level education should not be tuition free. It consumes a considerable proportion of resources that otherwise could be freed primary and secondary levels, and thus allow them to prepare students adequately for working life as well as for further education where needed. This view is unpopular. Yet, insistence on free education at all levels merely ensures that what we have is poor quality education at all levels. If we value high-quality education, we need to rethink the issue of free tuition at the tertiary level. Only on this condition can we ensure the sustainability of higher education. Summary and Conclusions This review of Nigerias education system from a development perspective leads us to the conclusion that collapse is imminent. Urgent action is required to avert disaster. Structural inadequacies threaten the ability of the system to perform. Neglect suffered by higher education is probably due to the fact that the effect of such neglect is not immediately observable or felt by society. Dissonance between policy statement and practice also plays its part in threatening quality. Emphasis on paper qualifications and the general malaise in society likewise contribute to the lowering of standards. Looking beyond these immediate problems and charting a way forward, some suggestions are advanced. There is advantage to be had from the development of communications and information technology. Distance education is a recognized means of coping with the rising demand for higher education while ensuring good quality and improving current standards. The potential of classrooms without walls and overcoming the constraints of distance are indeed very encouraging. Distance education should be adopted in complement to the conventional system. The existing physical infrastructure, which will anyway have to be maintained, should be utilized more effectively to support both modes of conventional and distance education. Care should be taken not to prevent individual institutions from developing specialist programmes, while sharing of resources should be encouraged. Finally, government should allow higher educational institutions to charge tuition fees and realistic accommodation fees in order to ensure sustainability. Such an initiative would make valuable resources available for use at the lower levels of the education system. Improvements in achievement levels among those moving on from the primary and secondary levels would thus feed into the tertiary level. It would improve quality throughout the entire system. Were these suggestions to be given serious consideration as a constructive and sustainable response to the crisis in Nigerian higher educational, the imminent threat of collapse may be averted. References Abdullahi, A. (1982) Structural Relationship between University System and Other Forms of Higher Education, in Adamu Baiki (ed.) Higher Education and Development, Benin City. Adalemo, I.A. (1987) The University of Lagos: Prospects and Challenges for the Future, in A.B. Aderibigbe, and T.G.O. Gbadamosi (eds.) A History of the University of Lagos, 19621987, Lagos: University of Lagos Press. Adalemo, I.A. and Baba, J.M. (eds.) (1993) Nigeria, Giant in the Tropics: A compendium, Lagos:Gabunmo Press. Adalemo, I.A. et al. (1997) Higher Education in Nigeria, Report of the University of the Lagos Emergency Committee on Higher Education Submitted to the Vice-Chancellor, February Typescript. Adeniyi, E.O. and Ritilola, S.O. (eds.) (1985) Leadership and National Development, Ibadan: NISER. Adesola, A. (1998) Nigeria: Universities and a Nation in Crisis, Distinguished Alumni Lecture Universities of Lagos. Ajeyalemi, D. (ed.). (1990) Science Education and Technology Education in Africa, Yaba, Lagos:University of Lagos Press. Agunbiade, S. (2000) Distance Education (Editorial) in Education Today, Quarterly Journal of the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja. Angrist, S.W. and Loren, G.H. (1967) Order and Chaos Laws of Energy and Entropy, Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books Ltd. Axelrod, J. et al (eds.) (1968a) Search for Relevance, The Campus in Crisis, American Higher Education, Association for Higher Education, Jossey Bass Inc.: San Francisco, CA. Axelrod, J. et al (eds.) (1968b) Stress and Campus Response, Current Issues in Higher Education. American Association for Higher Education, San Francisco: Jossey-Boss Inc. Baikie, A. (ed.) (1982) Higher Education and Development in the Context of the Nigerian Constitution, The report of the Fifth Annual Seminar of the Committee of vice-hancellors of Nigerian Universities. University of Benin, Benin City. Carnegie Corporation (1994) Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, A Digest of Reports of the CCHE, New York: McGraw Hill for Carnegie Corporation. Carmen, R. (1996) Autonomous Development, London, Zed Books. The Comet (2001) Yaba College of Technology teachers kick against Foreign Rector, The Comet Newspapers, Sunday, 17th June, p. 3. David-West, T (1998) The Nigerian Academia: The Bloom, the Gloom, and the Doom, 50th Anniversary lecture, University of Ibadan Alumni Association, Lagos Branch, 26th October. Dhanarajan, G. (2000) Distance and open education: an overview, Education Today, Quarterly Journal of the Federal Ministry of Education, 3 December. Ekaete, U.J. (2001) Policy focus and value system in higher education, The Guardian, Lagos, June 18, pp. 5859. Fatunde, T (2000) UNESCOs initiative on distance education, The Guardian, Lagos, p. 47. Federal Ministry of Education (2000) Distance education, Education Today, a Quarterly Journal of the federal Ministry of Education, Abuja. 8 (3): December Special Edition. Federal Republic of Nigeria (1998) Annual Abstract of Statistics, 3rd edn Lagos: NERDS Press. Ogunleye, A.O. (1998) Science Education in Nigeria: Historical Development, Curriculum Reforms and Research, Lagos: Sunshine International Publishers Ltd. Toffler, A. 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