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FG Hints at Alternative Funding For Tertiary Education to Address Academic Challenges

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The Federal Government has mulled the need to explore alternative means of funding for tertiary education in Nigeria amid academic disruption caused by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)

Investors King reported that academic activities in public universities in Nigeria were disrupted for about eight months. 

Speaking at a public event organised by the House of Representatives, the Minister for Works and Former Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola noted that alternative funding seems to be the only forward-looking way to fund tertiary education in Nigeria. 

While acknowledging that tertiary education needs collective funding from all levels of government, he however highlights areas where the universities and polytechnics could generate funds to include printing press and consultancy services. 

“University consultancy services, data provision, poll results, value data, and printing press are value proposals of alternatives for tertiary Institutions,” he said. 

Fashola also disapproved of the autonomy sought by lecturers in tertiary education. He noted that it is a big issue that needs to be addressed going forward. 

Also speaking at the event is the Director General of the budget office of the federation, Benjamin Akabueze. 

Akabueze who aligned himself with the position of the minister noted that the current system of funding can not feed the tertiary education sector. 

‘There has to be sustainable funding of tertiary education. We can’t continue with the current system because it is not working and not sustainable.” he stated. 

Nonetheless, the event also witnessed opposing opinions, particularly from Professor Uduak Ekpo. A professor of education at the University of Calabar

Ekpo disagrees with the earlier position established by both Fashola and Akabueze. He noted that if lecturers are saddled with the responsibility of funding, it will affect the quality of education and research. 

He concluded that the funding might still not be successful noting that lectures are better off in the classrooms or labs. 

On his part, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke bemoaned any idea to increase the fee paid by students in search of alternative funding. He noted that with the level of poverty and the state of the economy, many students will not be able to afford any increase.

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ASUU Strike: FG Moves to End Incessant University Strikes, to Review University Autonomy

The Federal Government has decided to review the laws that established public universities to prevent a re-recurrence. 

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Luong-Quoe-Vice-President-Yemi-Osinbajo - Investors King

The Federal Government on Monday announced it was working on reviewing the autonomy presently being enjoyed by public universities in Nigeria to put an end to intermittent strikes by tertiary institutions.

Speaking on Monday at an event organized by the National University Commission (NUC) in Abuja, the Vice President, Prof.Yemi Osinabajo stated that one of the major challenges affecting university education in Nigeria is the incessant strike actions by various unions in public universities.

Osinbajo, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, noted that the recent strike which lasted for more than eight months did a big blow to the university system.

He added that the Federal Government has decided to review the laws that established public universities to prevent a re-recurrence. 

He said,” The most recent strike actions by the university-based unions have necessitated a revisit on the issues and scope of university autonomy by the government”. 

“This will lead to a review of the university autonomy laws to appropriately address funding, including staff remuneration, institutional governance, and administration, as well as issues relating to internally generated revenue,” he added. 

Investors King could recall that earlier this year, specifically on February 14, 2022, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an industrial strike to press for certain demands which include better salaries and improved funding for the university education system. 

The academic union lamented that the federal government failed to implement an agreement that it entered with the union in 2009. 

Speaking further, the SGF noted that the university system has cumulatively lost over 50 months from 1999 to date as a result of strike actions by ASUU. A development he acknowledged to be worrisome. 

“I doubt if there is any country that has lost such amount of time to strikes in its university system. From the first strike in 1978 to date, all the issues have remained the same. The agitations have been primarily on funding, university autonomy, and remunerations.

“I need to stress here that government alone cannot fund education in the country. It is therefore imperative that a sustainable model of funding university education must be developed,” he said.

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University Lecturers Received Full Payment For November as FG Withhold 8 Months’ Salary Arrears

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babcock university

The Federal Government has paid full salary to university lecturers for the work done in November unlike in October when the lecturers were paid half salary. Some of the lecturers have confirmed that they have started receiving their November salary in full. 

In October, the lecturers were paid half salaries, which the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, explained was pro-rata payment for the days the lecturers worked after the strike was called off on October 14, 2022.

Investors King gathered that the Federal Government has not released the eight months’ salaries of the lecturers incurred during the protracted strike embarked upon by the academic union. 

A senior lecturer who spoke with Tribune News said “I received my November salary today (Wednesday) and I know some of our colleagues did the same. We expected that it would come together with arrears, but that wasn’t the case”. 

Meanwhile, University lecturers across branches have been protesting against the withholding of their eight months’ salary and the part payment paid to them for October. 

Reacting to the development, ASSU National President, Professor Victor Emmanuel Osodeke noted that the government reneged on the agreement the union had with the ministry of labour. 

Osodeke disclosed that the agreement which was supervised by the Speaker of the House of Representatives was that lecturers will be paid their eight-month arrears. 

He, therefore, stated that the national body of the union will meet soon to determine their next line of action claiming that the government is trying to turn university lecturers into casual workers. 

While speaking to the media at the State House, the Minister for Education, Malam Adamu Adamu rejected any insinuation that the government is trying to treat the university lecturers as casual staff. 

“The strike has been called off and the government has paid what is due to them”

“How can anybody make a university lecturer a casual worker? Do you know the meaning of casual worker? If you know the meaning of casual worker, it is impossible to make a university lecturer a casual worker,” he said. 

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Generation Z Turn to Online Learning to Sharpen Their Skills

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Generation Z

The transition from traditional to virtual and hybrid workplace environments has proven to be irreversible. Reports by Google data on Generation Z behavior indicate that a significant majority of this population has become accustomed to online-based learning through visually rich, technology-based, and socially interactive platforms.

Many Generation Z learners have expressed a high preference for virtual and blended learning over traditional programmes that usually require them to enroll and attend physical classrooms to attain certain qualifications.

Learning is ubiquitous and second nature to Generation Z employees. Markedly, the period spanning the last three years has seen an accelerated rate of employees enrolling for various L&D programs, most notably online courses, which offered the convenience and accessibility needed amidst health safety threats and inconveniences caused by the pandemic.

Anca Gosling, Aeroclass’s Director for Content Development, notes that Generation Z, colloquially known as “Gen Zers” or Zoomers, grow up immersed in technology, hence they value technology solutions, inclusivity, and construct their identities around self-reliant and pragmatic solutions. It is not surprising that Gen Z prefers ‘learning at the point of need’ using modern technologies, smartphones, or personal computers. At Aeroclass we use technology to anticipate and cater to the needs of the next generation to create a unique and personal learning experience.

In 2020, Gen Z learners interacted with digital learning content 50% more than in 2019. Most generation Z learners consider learning indispensable to build a flourishing career. Unlike traditional programs, virtual learning options provide a set of learning and development pros, from increasing internal mobility for individuals pursuing up-skilling and re-skilling courses to providing opportunities for leadership development, management development, and virtual onboarding.

A survey conducted by LinkedIn in 2021 reported that over 86% of Generation Z have enrolled in online courses to build hard and soft skills. Further, the report showed that this population spends 12% more of their private time on online-based learning platforms building skills than the average learner.

The past 2-3 years have offered significant lessons for many organizations – lots of unexpected challenges and considerable opportunities to capitalize on. In fact, the learning and development industry has moved to the forefront. It is now a matter of interest for many individuals, including those in employment and those looking to secure jobs in different sectors, including the aviation industry. Many employees and those seeking employment have recognized that learning is a “must-have” requirement to succeed. Therefore, they are exploring learning options that can provide the opportunity to further develop their careers and access C-suite level. This has led to a tectonic shift toward digital learning options where this generation of learners can access quality content and interact with a wide range of information pertinent to the challenges and complexities that characterize contemporary workplace environments.

Besides offering convenience and access to quality content, online learning increased robustness as a learning solution, providing superior coverage regarding instructional materials and reach. “Compared to classroom training, online learning offers a more inclusive option. Leave no one behind (LNOB) is the transformative promise of the United Nations (UN) 2023 Agenda for Sustainable Development and can be achieved only by empowering people through education. Technology is a powerful tool that allows people to access information that otherwise they would not be able to access.” explained Anca Gosling.

From an economic perspective, virtual training has presented a cost-effective alternative, enabling students to access L&D programmes at a lower budget than they would incur if they were to enroll in classroom-based courses. Two years ago, over 38% of individuals taking learning and development courses projected less spending on classroom-based learning, and 57% anticipated bigger budgets for online learning. In 2022, these figures have changed significantly, with current statistics indicating a high predisposition toward online learning. Today, 73% of learning and development professionals predict less spending on classroom training, while 79% have estimated higher budgets for online learning.

Furthermore, online learning offers a smart and innovative way for learners to evaluate themselves and quantify the learning outcomes from various programmes. Employees can use online-based engagement surveys to measure program effectiveness and assess their value in producing the desired learning outcomes and satisfaction.

Anca Gosling emphasizes that organizations must develop robust L&D programmes and infuse a continuous learning culture to build a future-proof workforce. Considering the complex business environment that we are currently facing, investing in employees will surely pay off. At the same time, organizations should consider aligning their learning strategy with the core business objectives.  This will increase retention, and motivation and ultimately the business will perform better. As Gen Z represents the dominant cohort of employees in the workplace, online-based training comes as a natural choice and a feasible solution for organizations to imbue a strong learning culture.

Research shows that the pandemic had a strong effect on Gen Zers. For those that are looking for a career change, perusing other opportunities or simply learning a new skill, online learning provides an effective way to develop skills that can connect them to their new career paths and offer the desired job. Besides, online training shifts learning from the static, one-off classroom courses to an impactful, flexible, and sustainable environment. Simply put, the sky is the limit!.

 

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