137th Inaugural :Nigeria’s Flawed Educational System Undermines National Development   ~Okorosaye-Orubite

Issues bordering on the glaring deficiencies of the Nigerian educational system and the role the sector could play in the accelerated development of the nation formed the main thrust of the 137th Inaugural Lecture delivered by Professor Anyamebo Okorosaye-Orubite of the Department of Educational Foundations in the Faculty of Education, last Thursday.
Delivering the lecture entitled: “Grant this our New Request,” at the Ebitimi Banigo Auditorium, Professor Okorosaye-Orubite, who is a well-known specialist in the History of Education, noted that “the people who are the agents and means of development can only perform the task after being prepared and produced by education.”
Professor Okorosaye-Orubite defined the education system as the “social institutions responsible for creating functional adults that can ensure the performance and efficiency of the nation’s other institutions, be they economic, social, political, psychological or environmental.”
He regretted that Nigeria was yet to actualise the social, economic, political, psychological and technological aspirations conceived at Independence by the nation’s founding fathers, despite its abundant resources, spirited policies and programmes by successive governments.
Quoting Professor Ayandele, he classified the evolution of the Nigerian elite class in four phases, namely; “…the pre-colonial epoch, the colonial period, the period starting roughly from 1951 to 1966, and 1966 to 1973. In these four eras, he (Ayandele) christened and described the educated/political elite as ‘Deluded Hybrids, Collaborators, Windsowers and New Nigerians,” respectively. He described them as “dysfunction agents who would push Nigeria towards Britain and thereby bring disaster upon their country…”
Professor Okorosaye-Orubite called for adequate funding programmes and schemes that would enhance and position education as a major driver of national development as was the case in other climes. He frowned at an untenable situation in which huge resources allocated to the educational sector were expended on settling unnecessary overhead costs of a bloated bureaucracy that perennially bogged down the system and diverted critically-needed funding away from quality research and teaching, which were the core mandates of a university.
The Inaugural Lecturer stressed the need for drastic reduction of corruption burden which depleted funds meant for national development that would improve the quality of life of the masses. Professor Okorosaye-Orubite also re-emphasised the need for functional partnerships between government and the private sector in the advancement of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to drive technological development. He further recommended the institution of an effective and proactive quality assurance mechanism at all levels of the educational system.
“The Nigerian educational system had been and is still producing grossly inadequate number of TVET graduates at all levels. This has denied the nation a favourable march towards technological advancement, despite the number of Polytechnics, Monotechnics and Universities of Science and Technologies that abound in the country,” he lamented.
Turning to the conceptual flaws in the evolution of the nation at Independence, the Inaugural Lecturer decried the levity with which Nigerians treated the National Anthem, recalling that “Nigerians in their supplication to the ‘God of all creation’ pleaded with Him to ‘Grant this one request’. Just one request! ‘A nation where no one is oppressed’!
“For no one to be oppressed, an egalitarian society must be in place. An egalitarian society can only be achieved when equality of educational opportunities in all its ramifications—access, quality, diversity and equity, is guaranteed. In the absence of such an educational system, oppression in the name of classes, religion and ethnicity with the attendant nepotistic tendencies prevailed and is still prevailing,” he pointed out.
Parodying a stanza from the National Anthem, Professor Okorosaye-Orubite explained that such backward-looking vision merely took the country far behind the biblical Babylon. He rearranged the lyrics of the Anthem by calling on the ‘God of all creation’ to ‘Grant this our new request/Help us to build a nation/With good education/And so with zeal and plenty/Nigeria must be blessed…’
The new request which was intrepidly vocalised by a musical group from the Department of Music, roused the audience to a standing ovation that ended Professor Okorosaye-Orubite’s five-star performance on the day.
In his remarks, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, observed that the title of the Lecture invoked a religious undertone and prayers for the good of the Nigerian state.
“When I made my opening remarks, I knew that today’s lecture was divine based on its title and content. The prophecies of the scholars he cited came to pass and so we join him in the prayer that Nigeria must be blessed. It is beyond debate that Professor Okorosaye-Orubite presented one of the finest Inaugural Lectures in this University. He presented the Lecture with such elocution and finesse that could compel the audience to listen to him even for two hours without batting an eyelid. I am impressed and I know that the audience was also impressed. He did not disappoint anyone of us. That is the true essence of scholarship,” the Vice-Chancellor said. 

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