The last time I traveled to Ghana for a short holiday, I was able to visit a friend in one of the private universities located within the state capital. On reaching the main gate I was as confused as a dazed rat ran over by a motorcycle the reason you may want to guess, a wonderful edifice in the name of a gate with well tarred pedestrian walks and every other facility that makes the entrance into a higher institution stand out from the crowd.
I couldn’t continue to make myself a J.J.C as I looked around in awe admiring the edifice and immediately called Asamoah, my friend who came minutes later and drove me to his lodge in his four wheels. As we drove into the campus, the state and level of infrastructural development within the campus was a far cry from what is obtainable down here, well erected streetlights, nice and serene environment with a lush vegetation, a well-organized system of transport network within the campus, state of the art administrative blocks and lecture theaters, roads tarred to the core, while at night, the environment is nothing more than a paradise on earth.
As we drove around, I was lost in bewilderment as though I had gone into a trance because all what I saw was in sharp contrast with what is obtainable in our own dispensation and this indirectly moved me to ask the singular question that forms the crux of this piece. ARE NIGERIAN PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES SCAM CENTERS OR CITADELS OF LEARNING?
Just yesterday, the Nigerian university commission took the bold step and withdrew the operational licenses of 7 private universities because of aggravated issues that bother on proficiency, ability to compete, running of unaccredited courses or programs among other numerous administrative evils. This, for me, no doubt was a good step in the right direction even though my elder brother a medical student in one of the affected ‘institutions’ happens to be a victim of circumstance but we cannot continue to sacrifice capability or accountability on the altar of sympathy if we must take our democracy and educational sector to the next level
The sordid level of administration in many private universities today, is nothing more than corruption clothed in nice garments. For heaven sake, these universities charge exorbitant fees and levies from their students and at the end of the day, run programs and courses that are scarcely accredited by the university commission and where they are, cannot meet up with the standard when next the accrediting team pays an august visit.
From my little knowledge of economics, the primary aim of privatization is to install efficiency and where stake holders or people who feel they can bolster the responsibilities of running private universities are no longer able to keep the standard, they should table their inability to the proper authorities and if possible pursue a merger with other investors and not just denting or putting the fate of students whose parents have paid huge sums that run into millions in the line as this could amount to a crime.
Many proprietors of these institutions have taken it as a business venture and run it for the sole aim of making profit forgetting that the educational sector is no ground for a business venture. For crying out loud, how can a single person take the responsibility of owning over 4 different higher institutions that aren’t anything near standard? Instead of pulling together all his resources to invest just in one that will offer all that is needed in a university putting aside personal greed or selfish interest.
Despite the exorbitant fees and levies they charge, the state of facilities in most of these institutions is not in any way commiserate with the fees been charged. You find classrooms and lecture theaters begging for repairs, inadequate hostels and halls of residence where source of water and electricity is a far cry from what is obtainable in other climes and yet the administrators are bold enough to approach the media and boast of excellent facilities and the best environment for learning in their respective campuses. Probably because they are good at producing half-baked graduates and are always eager to dish out first class and second class upper class to their students as a way of compensation for the millions tendered during the duration of study thereby denting the future output of the nation indirectly few years from now.
The searchlight has been beamed and even more is underway. I woke up yesterday to hear that the N.U.C has just withdrawn the working licenses of 7 private universities and I won’t be surprised either if I wake up tomorrow to hear that even more has received the same hammer for anything worth doing is worth doing well and we cannot continue to sit and watch, while some greedy people continue to drag our nation into the mud and the presidency keeps taking all the deficit.