In our collection of letters from African writers, journalist Sola Odunfa displays on a controversial proposal to ban the youngsters of presidency officers and prime civil servants from finishing their schooling overseas.
Again within the 1980s, my daughter received a spot on the Obafemi Awolowo College, one of many prime state-funded establishments in Nigeria.
She launched into her research with a spring in her step, anticipating to emerge with a prestigious qualification 5 years later.
Quickly sufficient although, she would be taught the reality behind the trendy Nigerian saying: college college students can solely make sure of their matriculation date; they can not say when they are going to graduate.
Her research appeared to take ceaselessly. If the lecturers weren’t on strike, they have been planning to go on strike. One of many strikes – a nationwide motion – lasted virtually a 12 months.
Midway by way of the course, my daughter’s morale had collapsed and solely the mixed entreaties of our prolonged household may persuade her to proceed her schooling.
Disillusioned and annoyed, she finally graduated. The five-year-course was accomplished in seven, by way of no fault of her personal.
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If that sounds unhealthy, issues are even worse now.
Universities stay poorly funded and the lecturers’ union – recognized by its acronym ASUU – is extra militant than ever, routinely threatening to shut down universities in its battles with the federal government.
It’s at this time broadly thought to be probably the most strike-prone of Nigeria’s labour unions. It says the federal government hardly ever delivers on its guarantees.
In addition to searching for its members’ pursuits, the ASUU pushes for the federal government to extend funding in greater schooling.
Lately, some parliamentarians got here up with a proposal that, they mentioned, would do precisely that.
They proposed a ban on the youngsters of prime officers from travelling overseas to finish their research.
They argued that this might compel authorities officers – lots of whom ship their youngsters to overseas universities – to extend funding for the home schooling sector.
‘Local weather of decay’
In keeping with the lawmaker behind the proposal, some 75,000 Nigerians are presently finding out in international locations comparable to Ghana, Benin Republic, Egypt, the UK and US – a type of instructional tourism that represents a lack of N1tn ($2.7bn; £2.1bn) to the financial system.
It’s on this local weather of decay that personal universities have been flourishing in Nigeria.
Having outlawed educating unions, these establishments can assure a secure educational calendar.
However their charges are usually very excessive, and so the younger Nigerians going to check overseas embrace not simply the offspring of elites but in addition these whose mother and father wish to keep away from the state system however can not afford a personal schooling at residence.
For them, the overseas possibility may be extra economical, particularly if their youngsters take part-time jobs to offset the price.
The proposed ban didn’t get very far in parliament.
The controversy on the subject was suspended after the speaker dominated that it might contravene people’ proper to free motion.
And so, Nigerians proceed to ship their youngsters to check overseas.
In the meantime, the nation’s lecturers are again on strike – complaining in regards to the lack of funding for universities.