By Desmond Ejibas
Rivers state Head of Service, Rufus Godwins, has urged Federal Government to reduce the number of universities in the country to enhance quality and performance.
Godwins made the call at a public lecture organised by the `Claude Ake Chair of Political Economy’, in collaboration with the University of Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
The theme of the discourse was ‘Shattered Towers and Tattered Gowns: Redefining the Nigeria University System.’
Godwins said the nation’s universities lagged behind when compared to its counterparts in other parts of the world due to poor funding; poor policy implementation and quality of teaching.
“If we are determined as a nation to tackle the menace of secret cults, sexual scandals and other vices prevalent in our university system, then we will be good for it.
“Also, why have 152 universities and none of them is ranked within the top 600 universities in the world or ranked among the best 10 universities in Africa,’’ he said.
The HoS said the nation would compete favourable with its counterparts if it reduced the number of universities to a more manageable figure while improve funding.
“The quality of the university system of any nation determines the product of that university. It is this product that feeds into the larger society and the leadership cadre.
“So, if we have a university system that cannot be trusted in producing the right caliber manpower who can lead the nation, then the society will be worst for it.
“We need to fix our university system and get the universities involved in dreaming dreams about our country,” he said.
Godwin said the nation’s universities had long secluded itself from current realities in the nation and was no longer contributing to development of the society.
He attributed the decline to poor management of the universities by authorities.
Also speaking, the Chair Occupant of the Claude Ake Chair of Political Economy, Prof. Eme Ekekwe, said that lack of proper policies affected growth of the educational sector.
He said the lecture was organised to stimulate thinking on ways to improve systems and processes in the nation’s system of learning.
“We want to discuss how we can make the products of our educational system reach and serve the community. This is because education in isolation does not benefit society.
“So, our work, products and ideas should be such that they can be translated into things that the community, society and country can use,” he said.
Nigeria currently has 152 public and private universities according to figures released by the National Universities Commission (NUC).