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Rot In Education: How Govt Can Address Decay, By Prof Akinpelu

Nigeria Student Forum / Educational News / Rot In Education: How Govt Can Address Decay, By Prof Akinpelu

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Prof Biodun Akinpelu is the Director, Centre for General Nigerian Studies, Lagos State University (LASU). In this interview, he spoke on the state of education, teacher registration, fake professors and other issues including the current situation in LASU.

Stakeholders are of the view that the nation’s education system is sick, do you agree?

I can’t say I don’t agree. When I look at the quality of education we received from primary school to university level that brought us to this stage we are today, we will know that something is wrong, something is missing. By the time I finished from the university, they have already retained me as a lecturer. Today there is no serious monitoring system again, so many things are wrong in the university system. In the general education sector, there is just do it anyhow format, there is no concise monitoring system to what is delivered to the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The National Universities Commission (NUC) and other regulator can still do better. I have gone to many universities on accreditation, resource assessment, I observed that they are areas where NUC should put down its feet, particularly when it comes to employment of staff into the universities. The quality will be affected and the life span of the university lecturers including secondary school teachers, because a situation where a teacher is teaching 3, 4 to 5 subjects in secondary school. When we were there it was not like we had a teacher for a subject, so it was a better policy that time, purely implemented by professionals. Today, education has become everybody’s assignment. Anybody can become the Minister of Education and it is sad that it is affecting our quality, our productivity as a nation, and we may not know.

How can we arrest the drift?

I believe we should come to reality in terms of effective monitoring, you cannot monitor if you don’t know what is happening there. You can’t monitor if you don’t know what is going on there, so the government should look into details, apart from funding. Funding is a major issue, education is not well funded, they know the percentage they give to education. It is just a budget, it is a projection, by the time they are implementing, they can’t implement the entire thing they budget for. Funding is a major problem for education in Nigeria. Education has to be properly funded and effectively monitored to make sure that what is budgeted for is what we are actually spending money on. It is sad to see classrooms collapsing and there is nothing anybody could do. Look at the population of children in schools now; we want everybody to send their children to school. Why do we have private schools? It is because public education is in crisis. During my time, there were no private schools. My primary school where I finished from in Iwo, Osun State, produced more than 15 professors. Go there today, it is terrible, you will feel sorry for the children that are there. If I collect my salary I could almost spend it on them because what is going on there is a sorry state. So qualified teachers must be employed. We have inspectorates, they should be allowed to do their jobs and do it effectively. But before they do that, they should close down all these private schools. I set up a private school for my wife who read Education English. I saw the quality of what I was seeing in town is not the quality of what I have in my own brain. I had to take my children to my own school, and to the glory of God, my children passed through my school and they will finish their university education. But how many people can do that? How many people can afford it? I even closed down my own school at Ilogbo, so I could tell people to go to public schools. Things are getting better there, but by the time I followed it up, I saw that there are areas where they don’t have staff. I want the government to look into the provision of quality education that will be accessible to all. Pupils should not travel seven kilometres before they could get to a secondary school.

December 31, 2019, was the deadline for teachers to register with TRCN. Two million teachers registered when we have about six to seven million teachers, what is your view?

I am a registered teacher myself. I registered with TRCN and I mobilised all my lecturers in LASU in the Faculty of Education to register and they did. I equally mobilised other lecturers to go and register for BDGE so that they can register for TRCN, but the government is not serious about it. It is not just about giving a deadline, there should be consequences for not registering. I was expecting something like if you don’t register you can no longer practice then we have started.

Recently, the government was asked to stop approving new universities in the next 10 years, because the ones approved are not doing well, do you share his view?

I share his view and I have observed that during accreditation, we go to universities where we just share staff. People will come from another university, just to fill up the gap. Let us stop licensing new ones, let us equip the ones we have on the ground, let make sure there are truly quality universities that can stand on their own. Let us enforce funding for those universities that are federal, state and private universities. Private universities should be well funded to attract students, not just looking for someone that will come on sabbatical. I went to a university where a dean is also the head of a department. I said this is an abnormality, we don’t run a university like this. You are the dean and also the HOD of your department and I noticed that they do not have any senior staff. He is the only professor in that faculty and you are running up to PhD level, this is abnormal. Existing universities should be looked into to ensure quality. We don’t need new universities again. NUC shocked the nation, with the discovery of over 100 fake professors, the system allowed it. I was shocked to be very frank, even those that set up universities of their own, became professors in their own universities. I got my PhD 27 years ago and I know how long it took me before I became a professor. For someone to have money and set up a university and become a professor in that university; where is the Senate that conferred it on the owner? Many things are wrong and I blame NUC for dragging the issue far too long. I was wondering how NUC would have allowed that for too long, to the extent that we can identify over 100 fake professors. It is sad. I want to believe that we can only retain quality when the system itself is qualitative.

Are you satisfied with the current situation in LASU?

I am highly satisfied I cannot deceive you, am very satisfied. I am part of this place and have been here for the past 24 years now. We have never had it so good, infrastructure development, quite unique all within four years, staff growth and development, quite impressive. Our staffs are now winning grants, it has never happened like this before. The situation here now is that people are being recognised.

In the last three years, LASU has experienced peace, can it be described as peace of the graveyard?

It is not a peace of the graveyard, because I know the quality of staff we have, morally we have issues. I have sanctioned lecturers myself in my office, I will invite them, they will bring the students and I will invite the lecturers. You will see lecturers prostrating, because they know I will make a write-up on it, and I will follow it up even to the governor’s office, that we don’t want this. Morally, quite a number of us are bankrupt. All these young lecturers are messing our students up, we cannot continue this way.

What has been your contribution to your area of study in LASU?

Those I taught in other universities are professors, so that is the major contribution. With the help of educational technology, l resolved problems in General Nigerian Studies (GNS). I resolved all the problems they had as far back as 2015 and 2016. Then GNS was a centre of crisis, the real centre of crisis, the failure rate was extremely high, you will think they are here to gain B.Sc GNS, and there is nothing like that. More than 75 per cent of those who wrote GNS would fail, I was wondering what we were teaching. By the time I took up this assignment in 2016, my first major focus was on what they were teaching. How did they set their questions? What was the quality of the test items we were using? I discovered that our lecturers were doing very well. But the questions we were using to test their knowledge were not ideal. The marking system was faulty, and that was enhancing the failure rate in GNS. Every student, about 16,000, complained about GNS, that they cannot fail, but they scored zero. The current administration set up a panel, and I headed the panel. By the time we scrutinised the situation, we discovered that students did not fail. But they were using obsolete equipment to grade and to access their performance. The machines used for marking were faulty and recording the wrong scores for them. I had to initiate direct manual grading first for over 16,000 students. By the time I finished, I had less than 50 students that failed, so students were correct. Today, I have introduced digital grading/examination through CBT. I introduced CBT for all GNS courses with effect from 2017 and it became the main thing.

Can you recall a student answer script that either shocked you or impressed you?

Yes, I can recall a student answer script that shocked me. It shocked me in the sense that how was the student admitted into the university. I wondered, if the student could write a single sentence correctly, it happened about five or six years ago. Before I came to this office, the girl could not write anything correctly and she was in 400 Level. She could not graduate because I put down my foot that she could not write any sentence correctly. I thanked God for some of my colleagues who brought out her scripts and they saw that it was the same problem, so I had to advise her to leave.

Are you still a member of ASUU?

By the grace of God, I am a member of ASUU. I was paying my dues until we stopped it in LASU. We had to stop it because those people we put there as our executives were operating another group not known to us. They were not working on our dictates, they were not listening to any advice they were running the place as if it was their personal property. That is not the essence of ASUU. ASUU national doesn’t operate that way. My children decided never to become lecturers because of what I passed through; if you have to be a senior lecturer for 13 years on a status. But this administration opened up the whole landscape that people can be promoted without looking at faces, without knowing people. They don’t need to know where you come from. When you deserve to be promoted, you will be promoted, you will be invited for an interview. If you don’t perform well at the interview, you will be denied. They will get experts from other universities to interview you just to ensure quality. Many people were frustrated before but today, people are happy. People were dealt with, a number of them were sent away and LASU has peace.

Who is Professor Biodun


Biodun Akinpelu is professor of Educational Technology. I studied in Nigeria, my first degree was at Ife and I was retained as a lecturer in 1983. I studied for my masters at the University of Ibadan in Educational Technology. I moved again to the University of Ilorin for my PhD. I was at the Federal Ministry of Education while I was doing my PhD. By the time I finished, I moved to LASU in 1996 in the Faculty of Education. I have been the PGDE coordinator, assistant coordinator of sandwich, HOD of Science and Technology Education, PhD coordinator of the Department of Science and Technology Education. I produced the first PhD holder in LASU who went ahead to win the Babs Fafunwa award as the best PhD in Nigeria. I have produced five PhD holders in LASU, four professors that I taught. It gives me joy that they are making progress. The first book I wrote in 2014, The Centenary Epoch, Legacy and Memories of the Nigeria State, was presented to the former President Goodluck Jonathan on May 7, 2014. The second book is “Can Nigeria Survive Another Century?”

Source: https://www.sunnewsonline.com/rot-in-education-2/

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