The January 2012 report of Webometrics, a world tertiary education ranking institutions organisation, has shown that only three institutions in Nigeria made the list of first 100 best universities in Africa and none in the first 1,600 in the world. Michael Oche takes a look at the ranking.
It is no news that Nigerian education sector is on a downward slide, but more worrisome is that current trend has shown that while Nigeria has continued to pretend to be the giant of Africa, other countries are outpacing the country in the education sector.
The recent ranking by Webometrics has continued to generate mixed feelings, but one thing that is obvious is that the nation’s education sector is losing its pedigree and can no longer continue to claim to be amongst the best in the continent.
A breakdown of the ranking shows that: The University of Benin ranked 1,639th on the global scale, the 18th in Africa and the first in Nigeria, followed by the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State as the second in Nigeria and the 2,266th in the world.
The University of Ibadan, the third in the African first 100, was the 2,515th in the world and 53rd in Africa, while the University of Nigeria, Nsukka is 3,228th, Obafemi Awolowo University-3,263rd and the University of Lagos is 3, 486th, were the fourth fifth and sixth, respectively, in Nigeria.
Others were the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Ilorin-4,302nd, University of Jos 5,681st, Auchi Polytechnic- 254th and the National Open University of Nigeria- 6,576th, which came seventh, eighth, nineth, 10th and 11th, respectively on the African list. The Auchi Polytechnic, being the 24th in Africa retained its position as the best polytechnic in Nigeria.
Topping the world list were the Havard University, which maintained its first position followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley, that came second, third, fourth and fifth respectively.
The University of Cape Town dropped to second position in Africa. The report showed a significant drop in the quality of Nigeria’s tertiary education, compared to the previous rankings.
For instance, in the 2011 report, eight institutions in Nigeria made the African best 100 list. They included University of Ilorin (20th), University of Jos (42nd), University of Nigeria, Nsukka (54th), University of Lagos (58th), Obafemi Awolowo University (63rd), Ahmadu Bello University (69th), National Open University of Nigeria (86th) and the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (95th).
The first five in Africa were the Mauritius Institute of Education, Mauritius (387th in the world), University of Cape Town, South Africa (532th), Rhodes University, South Africa (573rd), Cairo University, Egypt (687th) and the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa (819th). The effect of such ranking means that Nigerian universities continue to lose credibility on the international front.
Last December, Medical graduates from nine universities in Nigeria were blacklisted from practising in the UK. Following a decision by the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) to ban the higher institutions, the graduates will no longer be able to obtain licenses to practice in the United Kingdom.
The affected graduates are those who graduated after December 10, 2010 from Ambrose Ali University, Ebonyi State University, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, University of Jos, University of Nigeria and the University of Port Harcourt.
It also applies to those who graduated on or after April 1, 2010 from Igbinedion University College of Health Sciences and the University of Benin. The schools were axed because they no longer meet the required standards for practise in the UK. Even locally, the certificates being produced by Nigerian graduates are being suspected by local employers.
In 2008, the then governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Charles Soludo made a fuss when he claimed that seventy one per cent of the nation’s graduates are unemployable.
In what could be described as a damning verdict on our tertiary education, Soludo said “71 per cent of Nigerian graduates, like bad cherries, won’t be picked by any employer of labour because they are not fit for anything even if they were the only ones that put themselves forward for an employment test”.
The occasion was the convocation lecture at the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, in 2008. In his paper entitled “The unfinished business with the banking revolution in Nigeria”, he said “If a company administers a test on 100 graduates from Nigeria higher institutions, 71 of them will not be suitable for the job”.
The Nigerian graduates according to him, are not only insufficient to provide the high level skills needed to tackle the challenges of post-recapitalisation operation in the banking sector and globalisation but also “they are not employable in the new economy”.
The consequence of this is that Nigerians who could afford the bills send their kids abroad and to other African countries to study. Recently, the Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi Lamido claimed there are about 71,000 Nigerian students in Ghana paying about one billion US dollars annually (about N160 billion) as tuition fees.
That is in Ghana alone. Remember Nigerian students are all over the world, – think of the number in the South Africa, the UK, the US, countries of the former Soviet Union, Canada, etc. But for those who might express optimism, the 2012 budget for the education sector by the federal government comes short of anything that will make a significant difference.
According to a breakdown of the N4.7 trillion budget proposal, the security sector is to guzzle N922 billion, amounting to more than the combined allocations of 12 federal ministries. This is distantly trailed by allocations for education which is N400 billion.
A further critical examination of the 2012 budget proposal showed clearly that the education sector got a paltry 8% of the total budget.
Retrospectively, in 1999 and 2001, 16.77 per cent and 4.08 per cent of the country’s budget was appropriated for the sector respectively and in 2011, it received 10.24 per cent. Now in 2012 it is below an uninspiring 8%, a far cry from the 2011 appropriation.
Last year more than one million applicants who applied for JAMB could not get admitted because of their carrying capacity.
The first 10 universities with the highest number of applications in the 2011 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), according to data released by the JAMB, include University of Lagos had a total of 99, 195, with only 9,507 admission quota. A total of 89,160 applied to Ahmed Bello University, Zaria, but the institution can only absorb 6,068 candidates.
University of Nigeria Nsukka has a carrying capacity of 5970 with a total of 88, 177 to contend with. Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka has about 4, 373 carrying capacity with a total of 84,719 jostling for admission into the institution.
An educationist, Mustapha Bello told LEADERSHIP that there is no way the current standard of education in Nigeria can deliver the quality education most Nigerians yearn for. He said the point is, most Nigerians yearn for quality education but are not prepared to work for it.
He said, “Our education system has numerous gaps mainly in the implementation, and at every level – kindergarten, nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary. We usually do not have problems with policy formulations; our problem has always been with the implementation. I will mention just a few obvious gaps.
These include: basic infrastructures and resources – unsuitable school buildings and inadequate facilities, resulting in poor learning environment; poor quality and insufficient number of teaching staff at all levels; inconsistency in implementation of plans, and slothfulness in following through approved education policies; insufficient funding and a penchant for misusing approved funding.
All these factors combined with the incessant Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strikes have made matters worse. Last February, the federal government announced the establishment of nine new federal universities which was to take off last September, but several months after, the universities have not yet had structures or buildings to commence lectures. Experts say they hope that government pays more attention to the education sector.