The Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr. Wale Babalakin, has said the education sector needs N2 trillion funding annually to produce well-trained graduates, who can compete favourably with their counterparts abroad.
He said the current complaint about unemployment in the country would become history if the quality of education improves and meets international standards.
The senior lawyer spoke yesterday while delivering the 20th Anniversary Lecture of the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, titled “Technical Education and the Industry: Bridging the Gap for National Development”.
Babalakin, who was the guest lecturer, said it was sad that no multinational company in Nigeria was headed by a Nigerian, as was the case in the past, and put the blame on poor education and the bad attitude of Nigerians to work.
Explaining that the solution to many of Nigeria’s problems was quality education, he said the government alone cannot fund education and multiple sources of funding were required.
The lawyer further explained that it was important for the government to increase its budget for education and urged the private sector to also contribute to education funding.
He said quality education must never be compromised and all hands must be on deck to achieve it.
Calling for the establishment ofan Education Bank that would give loans to indigent students, Babalakin said such loans would cover tuition fees and provide for the students’ upkeep, adding that a conducive environment needs to be provided for students to bring out the best in them.
Based on the assertion by the National Universities Commission (NUC) that it would cost $3,000 per course annually to adequately train an undergraduate, Babalakin said, for example, the Education Bank can give N1 million loan to undergraduates annually with N700,000 earmarked for fees and N300,000 for the student’s feeding and upkeep.
He said the loans would be repaid at no more than 5 percent interest rate and would be payable within 6 years when the student starts working, with no more than 10 percent of his/her salary going to loan repayment. The businessman said the sums paid as school fees would also be channeled towards improving tertiary institutions.
Allaying fears that the graduates may not get jobs, Babalakin said: “We don’t have jobs because our graduates are not well trained and do not have the right attitude to work. When employers have confidence in the quality of education, they will be open to employing Nigerians and stop bringing in expatriates.”
The lawyer called for the transfer of technology from expatriates to Nigerians in order to build the capacity of the country’s human capital, adding that “If today, the biggest construction company in Nigeria is Julius Berger, it is an indictment on every Nigerian who has any affiliation with technology.”
He advocated for a proper reward system, noting that except in the case of minimum wage, workers should be rewarded based on their performance as against blanket payment for everyone.