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Nigeria’s education sector needs improved funding, books, journals, fellowships at higher level—Prof Okome

 ...encourages graduate students on purposeful study culture

 A Nigerian-born Professor of Political Science, African and Women Studies at the Brooklyn College, New York, Mojubaolu Okome, is advocating improvement in the quality of Nigerian Universities, particularly in funding, well-stocked libraries with relevant books and journals as well as access to fellowship programmes
for graduate students.

Prof. Okome who spoke on the side-lines of the fourth annual Lagos Studies Association(LSA) which held at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, said that contrary to insinuations,  Nigerians read and had at various times showcased excellent academic performances at international fora.

She, however, noted that the students at the University level studied under very harsh conditions where they lacked most basic learning materials like latest prescribed textbooks and journals.
Okome also said that most students may find it difficult to cover reading lists, considering the fact that they have to battle with the problems of unstable electricity supply, water shortages and having to work to earn money for school.   
She said: “I don’t believe that Nigerians don’t read. I think that circumstances in Nigeria are very difficult, thus making it harder for people to devote time to purely academic endeavours.
“First of all, there is the fact that you don’t have electricity supply all the time. Second, nowadays if you want to do research you need the internet, and being able to afford being connected all the time is an expensive venture. When you are connected, the connectivity may just keep fluctuating. I think we have to take that into consideration.
“If you are in North America, the issue of electricity, the infrastructure, travel, and the comfort of the location where you are doing your study are helpful to ease of education.”
She urged the government to see the present situation in the sector as one of crisis that needs immediate attention, as she recalled the quality of leaning materials and environment she studied in at the University of Ibadan back in 1979.
She said: “If we are serious about education we need to really work on this. It is not just the efforts of the individual now, but that of the government, in terms of policy and budget to education, and then our
educational institutions need to up their game.
“We need to begin to show that we are conscious that we are in a competitive international environment. I want to see Nigerian institutions of learning at the top, at least in Africa. I want my colleagues to give more in terms of preparing students to compete where ever they are in the world, which is  not just about money only.
“Structurally, the issues of books, journals should be sorted out. Then, I will advise that even within these constraints, people should invest in their personal development.”
Okome advised students on the need for self-development in spite of the problems.
She believes that graduate student especially, should set educational goals for themselves and strategically pursue same to achievement by cultivating a sound reading culture and taking opportunity of fellowships in other universities.


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