Population growth undermines education funding – Minister

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The minister of state for education, Mr. Goodluck Opiah, has attributed the inability of the government to fund education adequately to increasing population.

Opia stated this on Tuesday at the National Summit on Tertiary Education Reform held in Abuja under the theme ‘Re-imagining Tertiary Education in Nigeria: Issues, challenges and solutions.’

The minister disclosed that there are 2015 universities, four inter-university centres, 219 polytechnics/monotechnics, 115 colleges of education, and 147 innovation/enterprise institutions in Nigeria.

A breakdown showed that there are 49 federal universities, 40 federal polytechnics, 27 colleges of education, 19 monotechnics, 25 vocational enterprise institutions, and seven innovation institutions under the purview of the federal ministry of education.

“Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TEFUND) had released over N2.3 trillion to the various institutions to create more infrastructure, support research and improve documentation but with the increasing population there was no much impact.

“As more universities were established to improve our access to the growing population, the dwindling economic realities made it difficult for government to sustain the adequate funding, to maintain the quality of teaching and learning, infrastructure as well as maintain the structures necessary for attracting global talents needed to sustain intellectualism.

“Several attempts to reform the funding structure by TEFUND (released) over N2.3 trillion to the various institutions to create more infrastructure, support research and improve documentation.

“However, the increasing population with its associated increased demands for tertiary education has made it difficult to satisfy the various demands for funding by government. Funding of tertiary education is undoubtedly, the underlined reason for their decline,” he said.

Opia added: “The image of Nigerian public universities has over the years most significantly distorted. We can remember with nostalgia how Nigerian universities used to citadel of learning and attracted scholars and student from all over the world.

“Federal government enacted the Universities autonomy act which amongst others made new provisions for autonomous, management and reorganization of university in Nigeria, provide for a governing council with freedom to exercise powers in good management, growth and development of the university. However in practice, administrative, political and financial autonomy…as government is responsible for almost 100 per cent funding of public universities.

“Disagreement between federal government and Unions led to a number of strike whose cumulative effect includes dysfunction of academic calendar, dwindling quality of teaching, learning and researching, dwindling trust in our tertiary education system, increasing appetite for education in other climes, reducing researching development”, he said.

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