The Central Bank of Nigeria has made effort to restore the glory to the country’s ivory towers by ensuring their products are well-equipped to respond to the needs of the various sectors of the economy, particularly the financial services sub-sector, reports James Emejo
There is no gainsaying that the quality of education in Nigeria has deteriorated of the years.
Evidences to buttress the rot in the educational system are not far-fetched. Only recently, the country was stunned by a video which went viral on social media whereby a teacher couldn’t read basic instructions in Edo State.
Also, many students though in their senior secondary schools are unable to read and write. Even tertiary institution graduates are not left behind in the mess which had rocked the education system.
Most graduates of universities, colleges of education and polytechnics are currently unable to make good sentences let alone, have the requisite skills to be given gainful employment.
As a result, the scenario had cost the country so much in terms of employees productivity especially in the public sector where workers’ skill set is questionable with a lot of incompetence.
Government’s inadequate funding of educational institutions had been severely blamed among other things for the decay in the sector as its negative impact cut across all sectors of the economy.
Also, the inability of corporate institutions to find qualified graduates in their respective organisation could be traced to the rot in the educational system.
Although, the country had recorded breakthrough in the academic space in the past through the various universities, most of the ivory towers are currently basking in the euphoria of past glory when Nigeria was a country to reckon with in terms of the quality of graduates it turned out.
But today, companies find it difficult to engage graduates because of lack of requisite skills and knowledge in specific disciplines.
It was against this backdrop that the inauguration of the CBN-funded world class Excellence Centres in select universities across the country had been highly commended.
Late in January this year, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the N9 billion Centre of Excellence at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu Campus built solely by the CBN- emphasising his administration’s commitment to reverse the falling education standards in the face of dwindling resource.
The president had said government attached premium on education being the bedrock of societal development and lamented that facilities in universities and other institutions of higher learning had over the time dilapidated.
Nonetheless, he assured that, “Our administration is committed and determined to continue to reverse this situation even in the face of dwindling resources”.
Buhari, who commended the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, for the brilliant initiative to restore glory to education, further stressed that the commissioning of the centre was part of his administration’s determination to address the situation, adding that the centre represented a landmark for “our students as it provides them a conducive environment and well equipped facilities in their educational pursuit.”
The president said: “I want to note here that this administration places much premium on education as it is the bedrock of societal progress.
“The state of education in terms of outreach, quality and affordability is a direct bearing on our national aspirations and collective desire towards poverty reduction, securing the nation, narrowing the infrastructure gap and giving hope to our younger generation for a brighter future.”
Commending the apex bank, he said: “I wish at this juncture to commend the CBN for this gesture which goes beyond just providing this physical structure to include partnerships with the university administration especially in terms of funding support.”
He added that the immense challenges in the education sector called for the type of partnership between the CBN and the universities, adding that the initiative will not only benefit the CBN but the entire country.
Emefiele, however, explained that the initiative was part of the CBN’s determination to address the problem associated with dearth of skilled manpower which had undermined the country’s potential for growth.
He said the centre, which was the third to be so established had been designed to among other things, also curtail the pressure on foreign exchange occasioned by educational tourism as well as check the brain drain syndrome.
Emefiele said:“Basically it is the contribution of the CBN towards uplifting the standards of education in Nigeria.
“It is a centre of excellence mainly for postgraduate studies and finance and accountancy. We have these centres now in three places like University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and University of Ibadan.”
Elaborating on the project, the apex bank governor said: “Each of these projects costs nothing less than N9 billion. The second phase of this has about seven centres that is coming up and it is coming under the CBN endowment programme.
“The last administration in CBN did set up a N10 billion endowment programme about nine years ago. And as we speak, that endowment had grown to about N23 billion. “
The apex bank boss further noted: “The centre is an exclusive postgraduate centre that will have collaborative efforts with other universities like Harvard and Stanford University and all that.
“So, you can imagine the standards that will be provided here. It has 150 postgraduate accommodation, 500-seater auditorium as well as a teleconference centre where students can stay in a classroom and receive lectures and seminars from universities globally.”
He said: “It has an e-library and a conventional library. The classrooms are well-furnished and I can assure you that when people say that the government is not investing in education, we are trying to use this as an expression that government through the CBN under its intervention programmes is trying to do something to uplift the standards of education in Nigeria.”
Also, explaining the rationale for setting up the centre as well as its impact the economy, CBN Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, told THISDAY that the UNN Centre of Excellence promises a “very cosy atmosphere for learning and the learning is not the undergraduate learning.”
According to him: “This centre which has e-presence learning, a professor in Harvard or Princeton or Cambridge or Oxford can give lecture and interact with the students right from there.
“And it has two libraries, one elibrary and one conventional for research.
So if you like, this is a top line infrastructure for learning.”
Okorafor said: “We chose to go into this intervention because you realise that the quality of graduates and post graduate teaching and learning had dropped.
“Like we are stimulating agriculture and other sectors, that we also needed to set an example, set a standard here so people can come in.
“Because education is at the core of even our own (CBN) productivity as a monetary authority because people have been saying so many Nigerian graduates are unemployable.”
According to him, it is in reaction to that phenomenon that we have established this and this is our own modest way of saying that we cannot allow educational institutions to go on like that.
He further assured that the institution would not be allowed to rot away as the “maintenance will be done by us initially and gradually passed on to and we will make enough provision to ensure that this does not go bad.
“It is a centre for research and updating your learning, skills with the best you can get anywhere in the world.”
He added that the key subjects which would be given priority at the centre included economics, finance, accounting and statistics among other finance related disciplines.