Gbajabiamila unveils plans for funding tertiary education through student loans

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By Racheal Oyelola

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Akeem Gbajabiamila, while delivering a lecture at the 52nd convocation at UNILAG, said the House of Representatives has begun work on a legislative framework for funding tertiary education through student loans.

He said, “The primary purpose of education is to improve the individual in mind and empower them to be beneficial to themselves and societies.

“However, when laws and implement directives relating to education are considered in our country, particularly tertiary education, our highest objective must be to deliver an education system capable of producing this archetype of an individual.”

While speaking, he said “considering the problems of education infrastructure, access to educational opportunities, quality of instruction, the welfare of teachers, lecturers and professors, we will do well to remember that all of these factors matters only to the extent that the necessary to build institutions that produce citizens who can advance the cause of Nigeria.

“Tertiary institutions in Nigeria need to develop a new understanding of the changing nature of work and the future of employment and allow this new understanding to inform the nature of instruction and the substance of the education they provide.

“Moreover, advancing our tertiary institutions into the 21st century demands that we do whatever is required in terms of changes to legislation, regulation and policy to achieve this sort of closer synergy between the private sector and our educational and training institutions.

“Meanwhile, there is an issue of how we finance tertiary education in Nigeria, there is an area of controversy, which is understandable in a country such as ours.

“As two things remain true, the first is is that building the kind of institution we need and desire will require significant investments and the second thing is the current approach is neither adequate nor sustainable as it heavily depends on subventions from the federal and state governments.

“Therefore, we must agree to use the instruments of policy and legislation to advance a new framework for funding tertiary education in our country.”

He noted that the new system should provide funding for all students who qualify so that the burden of school fees and living expenses can be referred and paid over a period.

“It must also ensure that the institutions themselves get paid for their services so that resources are available to operate effectively.

“Also, work has begun on a legislative framework for funding tertiary education through student loans and this effort will continue until we successfully design a system that suitably addresses our concerns and meet our needs.

“Conclusively, it will also be desirable for our tertiary education to promote entrepreneurship and vocational skills as a constant feature of all its courses as in the new world order, there will be always more businesses to establish than job to be found  so our education focus should better prepare Nigeria citizens to be entrepreneurs instead of being job seeker.”