Despite optimism that 2020 will be a good year, the education sector in Nigeria appears to gear up for turbulence. FELIX KHANOBA writes on the many battles that will unsettle Federal Government in the sector.
FG/ASUU IPPIS Conundrum
The forceful introduction of the centralised payment scheme, Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in the nation’s university system will raise a massive dust in 2020. The Federal Government has already vowed to stop the salary of academics that fail to enlist on the scheme.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which is already at dagger-drawn with the Federal Government over the issue, said the scheme negates varsities autonomy and has also vowed not to have anything do with IPPIS.
Nigerians are fully aware that ASUU has a very potent weapon; strike, but will the union proceed with industrial action should government make good of its threat or will the latter shifts it ground? Only 2020 will tell.
Law School And NYSC: Will 2020 Be The Year Of NOUN?
When President Muhammadu Buhari signed the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) Amendment Act in 2018, the move was hailed in several quarters as the game changer in the nation’s higher education sub-sector.
The new Act changed the status of programmes run by the University from part-time to full-time and allows NOUN’s graduates to take part in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme and the Nigerian Law School for those that studied law.
But more than one year after the Act came into force, qualified graduates of NOUN have not be allowed to participate in NYSC while the gate of law school continued to be shut against those that studied law in the institution.
“By the Presidential assent, which has replaced the hitherto ‘correspondence’ in the Act to now ‘Full-Time programme’, which was the basis on which the Council of Legal Education refused to admit law graduates of the university to the Nigerian Law School, it is apparent the quagmires have been finally laid to rest and admission quota imminent,” Chairman of NOUN Law Graduates Forum, said last year while expressing hope that the law school will see reason to admit NOUN graduates.
Many believe that with the 2019 election year over and the urgent need to boost access to university education, the Federal Government may finally rein in the relevant government agencies to ensure that NOUN enjoys its new status to send graduates for NYSC and law school.
Out-Of-School Children’s Time Bomb
With over 10.1 million children currently out of school in the country, Nigeria is seating ‘comfortably’ on a time bomb that may soon explode if not addressed.
With high unemployment rate, kidnapping and insurgency ravelling the country, street children stand the risk of falling into wrong hands, thereby escalating the nation’s security woes.
Unstable government policies and the neglect of Almajiri programme and its over 110 schools constructed by the previous administration gave a major blow to efforts to boost enrolment across the country.
Though the Federal Government has rolled out a school feeding programme and other efforts in partnership with international agencies like United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) to woo children to school, stakeholders believe only a genuine seriousness on the part of state governments will create the desired impact in 2020.
JAMB And NIN
The decision of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to introduce the compulsory use of the National Identity Number (NIN) by prospective candidates in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) has not gone down well in some quarters.
While the JAMB’s registrar, Prof. Ish-aq Oloyede, said NIN will go a long way in drastically reducing examination malpractices, particularly impersonation, the absence of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) enrolment centres in several communities and the difficulty in obtaining the NIN have made many parents to kick against JAMB’s decision.
Oloyede, has, however offered to make provision for transportation from UTME registration centre to NIMC centres for prospective candidates that are yet to get NIN.
But to some would-be candidates who live in rural areas, such gesture may just be too little, too late.
Will non-possession of NIN by some prospective candidates cast a negative impact on the UTME registration process? Only time will tell.
War Against Fake Professors, Illegal Varsities
The move by the National Universities Commission to sanitise universities in the country is expected to gain momentum in 2020.
The Commission, which has closed down 58 illegal universities and degree mills operating in the country, recently uncovered over 100 fake professors.
It has promised to leave no stone unturned to ensure that academics that parade bogus qualification are shown the way out of the university system.