The governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, on Monday, promised to spend at least 10 per cent of the state’s annual budget on the education sector.
Mr Makinde, who made the pledge on Monday in Ibadan at the opening of the 34th Conference of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, also said his administration would increase it annually until it matches the UNESCO standards.
The governor called on the universities and the people of the state to serve as watchdogs by holding his administration accountable.
He said his doors were open to suggestions that would improve the standard of education in the state, adding that he needed partnerships and synergies, especially in the area of quality control.
Mr Makinde expressed his resolve to revisit a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) signed between the state government and the Faculty of Education of the University of Ibadan about 10 years ago.
He said the purpose of the MoU was to strengthen the inspection of curriculum delivery in public primary and secondary schools in the state.
“The plan is to see members of the faculty conduct independent inspection of teachers in the discharge of their duties.
“This is expected to improve quality assurance in public schools in the state,” the governor said.
Mr Makinde noted that the quality of education in the state when he came into office was low, while the quality assurance monitoring mechanism was weak.
He also said out-of-school children were over 400,000, adding that he stopped payment of school fees in primary and secondary schools to encourage more children to go back to school.
Mr Makinde noted that the school fees were the major barrier that kept huge number of children from schools.
While noting that the quality of graduates produced by universities could be much better, Mr Makinde said that the quality of their products was commensurate with the resources at their disposal.
“We cannot be feeding universities with substandard raw materials and expect them to miraculously manufacture high quality finished products.
“If we want better products, we have to up the ante and feed our universities with higher quality materials,” he said.
Earlier, Idowu Olayinka, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, said that Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) candidates subscribed to public universities by 94 per cent.
He said private universities accounted for six per cent due to the fact that fees in public universities were cheaper.
“The private universities which do not receive financial support from government tend to be costlier and largely undersubscribed,” Mr Olayinka, a professor, said.
According to the vice-chancellor, the Nigerian university system currently has 174 universities, comprising 43 for federal, 52 for state and 79 for private.
He added that that the nature of each university’s problems differ depending largely on the mode of ownership.
“The public universities are characterised by unstable academic calendar largely on account of incessant disagreements between staff unions, management and proprietor.
“This has made our public universities largely unattractive to foreign students.
“Just last week, most of the federal universities experienced a week-long warning strike from the Joint Action Congress of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU).
“As we are aware, the two major issues in contention comprised the ownership/management of the university staff schools and payment of earned allowances,” the vice-chancellor added.
He expressed the association’s optimism that the outstanding issues would be resolved in earnest so that the academic calendar would not be disrupted further with an indefinite strike by the two unions.
The vice chancellor further expressed the hope that the conference would afford the participants an opportunity to share ideas on how to cooperate and collaborate for greater efficiency on their various campuses.
The theme of the conference is “Prioritising Quality Assurance: Teaching, Research And Professional Conduct.”