S INCE the late 1980s, the educational sector in Nigeria has suffered setbacks in a number of areas. Implementation of policies is a major issue in a country where most Nigerians prefer university education. Universities are constantly being inundated with admission requests they cannot meet. The number of candidates who apply annually exceeds by far the spaces available. For instance, over 1.5 million candidates apply annually for admission into universities nationwide, but only about 500,000 are admitted. Some of these unsuccessful applicants become frustrated and sometimes, resort to crimes, while those whose parents are well-to-do send them abroad to study.
With over hundred recognised federal, state and private universities across the country, millions of Nigerian youths who are desirous of university education find it difficult to access higher education.
The issue has been attributed to the low carrying capacity of the universities. About 96per cent of the candidates who sit for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) chose universities as their preferred institutions; 1.69per cent chose colleges of education, while 1.9per cent settle for polytechnics as their preferred institutions. The situation has given rise to the decision by wealthy Nigerian parents to send their children abroad to study.
Today, thousands of Nigerian students are in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Ghana, among other countries. However, the ongoing forex crisis at home is bringing about a new reality whereby parents now find it difficult to send money to their wards.
Of great concern is that most of these students cannot work legally in their host countries, since they only hold student visas, and thus, they are forced to do menial jobs for survival.
It is also being reported that some parents have started bringing their children home due to the economic situation in the country since they can no longer continue to sponsor their education abroad.
While not blaming parents who send their children abroad to study, I want the government to do everything possible to standardise education in the country. The government is really trying by establishing more universities, but our population is so huge, and every year, candidates surpass the spaces available. What the government should do is just to ensure that online education is strengthened.
The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and other universities operating distant learning centres should be technologically developed to admit more Nigerian students.
- Fidelis Okon,