Dr. Ola Adebogun is an Educationist and Visitor to Caleb University, Imota, Lagos State. In an interview with some journalists, he shares perspectives on the nation’s education sector and equally described the overwhelming success the institution’s entrepreneurship education recorded in the creation of job providers rather than job seekers as a confirmation of the university’s commitment to high standard of education.
Ques: Assessing the standard of basic and secondary education in Nigeria. What is wrong with the nation’s education system?
Basic and secondary education in Nigeria is tottering. Whereas the federal government rightly put primary and secondary education in the confines of the government at the grassroots (State and Local Governments), basic and primary education have lacked critical attention as state and local governments battle over resource allocation in ways which leaves basic education and secondary education at near comatose. The private sector involvement in basic and secondary education has come to give the Nigerian child hope, albeit at a justifiable cost. Of course, it is said “if education is expensive, try ignorance”. The nation’s education system needs quality and structured attention as well as increased funding and quality control.
Ques: What do you think can be done by Government to improve the nation’s education system in order to meet global education standard?
Government needs to increase funding. Government needs to put structures in place to ensure quality assurance. Government needs to invest in human resource development; curriculum development and alignment. We need to set our priorities right as a nation. We need to put in place value-based education. Government needs to put in place policies to encourage innovation, creativity and personal development. From the scratch, government needs to put in place policies that will promote science and technology. The future of a nation depends largely on the quality of its educational development. This calls for national attention.
Ques: As Visitor to Caleb University what is Caleb doing to stem the tide of dwindling quality of graduates generally perceived to be lacking in required skills for industrial needs and relevant to overall national and regional developments?
Caleb University is putting in place value-based education or what the Koreans call mind education. We seek to regenerate the mind of young people on virtues as dignity of labour, innovation, creativity and problem-solving. We seek to connect town with gown in a way which our graduates will be industry-ready. Entrepreneurship education creates job providers rather than job seekers. Our graduates are being taught to be entrepreneurs and not white collar job seekers. We are connecting intellectuals in industry to interface with the academic to give the students balanced education; education that trains the head, hand and heart. We are networking with global industry and knowledge economy to impact the human society through quality graduate training. It is our plan that our graduates should have global competitive advantage. We deliberately provide them space for international linkages. For instance through the Korean based International Youth Forum, Caleb graduates are connected to their counterparts in over 90 countries across the globe. They have opportunity for global volunteer service and connectivity.
Ques: What is your assessment of the graduates of Caleb University in relation to existing facilities and high quality of staff in the institutions?
Caleb University is deliberate in its human resource drive. We head-hunt for industry leaders and world class Professors to create the much needed synergy and impact on the education landscape of Nigeria. We have recruited the top echelons of the professional bodies those who are industry leaders. The objective is to give the Caleb graduates the competitive edge in quality training and educational outcome. The Presidents of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN); the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CITN) and the Deputy President of the Chartered Institute of Administration (CIA) have been engaged as academic staff of Caleb University. We have recruited world class scholars, those who have proved their capabilities at such world class platforms as Full Bright Senior Scholars level and tested administrators who have led out in change management and drivers of successful education institutions. We have put in place structures as for instance the new Architecture building and the sports arena under construction.
Ques: What is you take on the clamour to include Private Universities in the various projects funded by ETF currently only in Public Universities?
It is amusing that Nigeria is still debating whether it should support research and development. If we all say that education is the bedrock of development, I wonder why we need to be debating whether TETFUND should support research and development everywhere and anywhere. If TETFUND supports a private university to achieve break-through research in malaria, lassa fever or ebola research, will the outcome be for such a private university or the collective use of humanity or Nigeria? While Nigeria and Nigerians are still debating whether money collected from private businesses can be used by all who are involved in manpower training for the nation, nations as far as the artic poles (eg Sweden, Norway etc.) support such universities in Nigeria to develop problem solving skills for issues relevant sometimes only to Nigeria.
Ques: Graduate Unemployment seems to be on the increase in the country. What are the causes and solution?
As we hear employers of labour say each time, some graduates come out of some universities in Nigeria as unemployable because standards have been compromised. That is an area of strength for Caleb University. Our programmes are not only nationally accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC), they receive quality affirmation by the professional bodies. As such our graduates are hot cakes for employers of labour.
Additionally, Nigeria lacks effective manpower planning. Graduate unemployment is rampant because there seems to be no data on the enrolment pattern and job creation by the relevant government agencies. The solution lies in proper national planning as well as quality assurance in the educational institutions. Nigeria must be able to determine the number of graduates it is billed to produce over a five-year plan period for instance, and the positioning of the economy to absorb the projected figure. It appears there is no such coordinated approach presently.
Ques: What does Caleb University do differently that made it to become institution to be reckoned with?
Caleb is faith based, which means we offer balanced education that combines morals with quality teaching and industry experience. As we say, there is no point training an Accountant that is an academic giant but a moral dwarf. Our students study in a serene atmosphere conducive for learning and connect global best practices. We insist on doing it right, always. Our core values are: Godliness, Innovation, Service, Integrity, Teamwork, Excellence and Creativity. You cannot be subsumed under these invaluable ethos and not be different from others outside there. To these, we give God all the glory and praise the core of hardworking staff that drive the vision.
Ques: In this era of youth restiveness, what is your advice to the Nigerian youth?
The Nigerian youth should embrace value based education. They should strive after doing it right and avoid the “get-rich-quick mentality” that prompts them to look for short-cuts. Every activity that will be beneficial has a process. Even there is order in heaven. The rush to get rich quick has resulted in compromising quality and lack of enduring institutions. Young people must be taught to follow due process to develop and advance in life. They must be taught how to get it right and avoid compromises. Above all they must have the fear of God.