Founder of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado Ekiti, Aree Afe Babalola (SAN), has on Saturday enjoined politicians, especially governors and governorship aspirants ahead of the 2019 general elections, to stop deceiving the populace that if elected, they will provide free education for the people.
Babalola gave this warning while delivering the 2018 annual Dorcas Oke Hope Alive Initiative (DOHAI), lecture entitled “Adequate funding for education and the challenges of the African child”, held at Previous Cornerstone University, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Dignitaries present at the event included: Professor Bolanle Awe, Dr. Oluremi Atanda and DOHAI founder, Bishop Francis Wale Oke among others.
Babalola, who spoke through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of ABUAD, Professor Smandra Olarinde, declared that the government must make it clear that there is a limit to the amount of money it can provide for education in the midst of competing areas of need, hence, governors and those aspiring to be governors in the 2019 elections should desist from deceiving the people that they will provide free education when elected.
He added that time has come when African countries must face reality of its economic and financial circumstances to made its education sector more attractive and capable of fulfilling their national aspirations.
Babalola in his forty-page paper said, “The government must make it abundantly clear that there is a limit to the amount of money it can provide for education in the midst of competing areas of need.
“The politicians, particularly those aspiring to be governors should stop deceiving the populace that, if elected, they would provide free education. This is how we came about several state universities which are only universities in name and are not better than glorified secondary schools. You must have read reports on how students in a state university hire sheep pens for accommodation and the surrounding bush as toilets.
“Time has come when African countries must face the reality of its economic and financial circumstances and do what others elsewhere do to propel their universities to institutions of national relevance, capable of fulfilling their national aspiration.”
Babalola, while speaking further, added that years of economic mismanagement, failure of successive governments among others are other factors that have contributed to the dwindling state of education of African child.
He said, “Years of economic mismanagement have further compounded matters. As a result of these and more, governments have not been able to adequately fund education. Whether education can be funded without adversely affecting other crucial aspects of the economy continues to attract debate. But, worthy of note is the fact that even in the early years of free education before the advent of the problems associated with modern-day Nigeria, the government of the Western Region, in particular, is noted to have found it difficult to fund other important sectors of the economy.
“It is, therefore, no surprise that things are even more difficult now. Sometimes ago, it was reported that students in a secondary school in one of the states in the South West had been asked to donate two six-inch concrete blocks each”.
Babalola who hinted that various factors affected the status of education in Africa, however argued that all hope is not lost saying that African leaders and major stakeholders must rise to restore the lost glory of education.
He said, “It is evident that a combination of factors has affected the education of the African child. They are lack of true federalism among the states created at Berlin conference in 1884, failure of successive African governments to invest adequately in education, poor leadership, uncontrolled population, poor working conditions and environment in our universities.
“All hope is, however, not lost. We all as Africans, and major stakeholders and leaders in the education sector, have pivotal, sacred and indispensable roles to play in contributing our strategic opinions and efforts to reversing the current trend.”