How rational is call for banning public officials’ children from studying abroad?
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As the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) mulls another strike, following government’s refusal to honour its agreement with the union, ASUU President Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke has called for the enactment of a law banning public officials’ children from attending schools abroad. However, students views differ on the issue, report ELIZABETH FADEYI(MAPOLY) ZAINAB AHMAD(BUK) IFUNANYA OSAKWE (UNIBEN) and GIFT ADAH (UNICAL).
The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, has called for the enactment of a law banning children of public officials from studying abroad. This, he said, would bring the desired change to the education sector.
In an interview, he decried the perennial underfunding of the sector which has continued to be the bane of education in the country.
“Today, the only problem we have is education; once you kill your education system, your country is gone, which is what we have today. The money they use to award contracts for railways and others is more than what we are asking for. Education is the key and number one. There was a Prime Minister in Britain, who said his number one priority was education, number two was education, number three was education. But for our leaders, education does not seem to matter to them. You know why? It is because their children are not in Nigerian universities.
“If we can have a law that says that once you are in government or you take a government appointment, your children must school in Nigeria, the system will change,” he said
However, students have expressed divergent views on banning children of public officials from studying in foreign countries.
Ibrahim Isma’ila of Bayero University Kano (BUK) said it was a good proposal, but doubts if ASUU would get the needed support to make it a reality.
“It’s a good move but I think it’s not feasible in a country like Nigeria where the people that will ensure the law holds are in favour of sending their children abroad. These officials don’t care about the quality of education in the country because they have foreign schools as alternative for their children. They forget that there are people in dire need of education in the country. ASUU can emphasise on the law, but, with time, it will die down as a result of lack of support from the people above,” he said.
Akinyemi Olabisi, a 400-Level student of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), said: “If this can happen, I can bet there would no longer be anything called ASUU strike or any other strike in our tertiary institutions. And I’m sure we will have lots of international students coming to study here. Public officials wouldn’t want their wards to stay at home for six months because of strike. They wouldn’t want their children to learn in an environment with poor facilities.”
For Hannah Ashiwel, a 200-Level Biochemistry student of University of Calabar (UNICAL), enacting such law would make government improve the standard and quality of education in the country. She, however, doubts if such law would see the light of the day.
“It’s actually a nice idea because public officials would be forced to try and improve the education standard of the country by investing heavily in the country rather than investing outside. This would bring the needed development to the country.
“But, as it stands, I don’t think it’s feasible because the people who are supposed to work on such are actually the ones guilty of the act,” she said.
Roseline Emmanuel, a student of History at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), said it would go a long way in making the educational system more effective as public officials would be focused on developing tertiary institutions.
“If these public officials’ children are stopped from studying abroad, I believe it would make them concentrate on developing tertiary institutions.
“Most of these politicians do not allow their children to study in Nigeria, instead, they are sent out of the country to study. This is not fair to us that cannot afford studying abroad.
“If our tertiary institutions are built on high standards and well-equipped, their children will study here,” she said.
Femi David, an HND 2 Marketing student of Federal Polytechnic Ilaro, said: “They are never ready to receive the consequences of their actions. Maybe it’s until when they start turning down their wards from foreign universities,then they would realise that it’s high time they invested in education.
‘’Which one of them can allow his children to be delayed at home for over a year because the government refuses to pay lecturers?”
Samuel Abiola, a 300-Level Law student of University of Ibadan (UI) said:”I agree with the ASUU President on this. When children of public officials are banned from going abroad to school, I think the educational system in Nigeria would really get better. They wouldn’t just act anyhow when it comes to education because their children would be affected by it too. But, in a situation where their children are abroad receiving better and quality education, they are less concerned about what happens to the education sector here. Hence, they tend to turn a blind eye to lecturers’ demands and would be so comfortable watching students stay out of school for a whole year without taking any action.”
But for Lawal Abdulwahab a student of BUK, everybody has a right to get education wherever he/she deems fit.
” I think every body has his/her right to how they want to gain education, that’s the fundamental thing about life. But if you take our country as a case study, I think the ASUU President is right; if their wards actually study in the country, they would focus on how to revamp our education sector. They won’t allow ASUU strike to continue,” he said.
John Samuel, an HND 2 Banking and Finance student at The Polytechnic Ibadan, said: “Government can actually do better. Education is going down the drain in this country . Students are no longer keen to study. That’s is the rate at which they have spoilt the sector. And that’s why none of their children can be seen studying here in Nigeria. Asking them to ban their wards from going abroad to study is impossible and can never work out.”
Adaghe Deborah, another student of UNIBEN does not think there should be a law stating where the children of public officials should receive education because some courses are not yet accredited in the country’s universities.
” I don’t think there should be any law stating where a public servant’s child or ward should receive his/her education. First there are some courses that are not accredited in Nigerian universities. Another reason is that everybody wants the best for his/her children and being an international student is the best for them, they should go ahead. They should not be treated less or different in giving their children the best they desire,” she said.
A student who pleaded anonymity said: “It is a dead-on-arrival proposal.
“All those to enact the law were at a time or the other in public service or intend to continue after their term.
“They cannot ban themselves from the benefit of sending their wards abroad when they know full well that we don’t have a good system.
“That is when they would tell us it is a free will/choice, therefore it is not debatable.”
Joy Samuel, a 200-Level of University of Lagos student, does not believe that would change the fortunes of education in the country.
“The problem is the bad and corrupt leadership. Without fixing that, the government will continue to owe lecturers.
‘’I don’t think banning public officials’ children from schooling abroad will change anything. Government should prioritise lecturers’ welfare,” she said.
Abimbola Hassan, another student of The Polytechnic Ibadan, said: “The education sector is already in shambles , and of course they are aware of it , so they can never agree to turning such to law because they know what awaits their children. They know education here is nothing to write home about, they are just turning deaf ears to the cry of students and lecturers. They know full well that the country’s education is poor, so they won’t want their children to fall victim of their mistakes.”
Rauf Habeeb, a 200-Level Mass Communication student of UNILAG, said: “Even if they stop them from travelling abroad, of which I know it wouldn’t be possible, would any of them send their children to a public university they fail to restructure? Knowing what they have done to the education sector in country, they would rather send their children to private universities. Which of them would watch their children not go to school for almost a year ? I don’t think it is ever going to happen.”
Ojo Iyanuoluwa, a 300-Level student of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), said no public official would allow his ward to study in the country as a result of incessant ASUU strike .
Her words: “In institutions here, a four-year course would turn to five or six years, no thanks to strike . Do you think they would allow their children attend such institutions? It is never going to happen. The system they refused to structure well, the same system that is poor ? They won’t ever agree to that.”
Oduyele Peace, an ND 2 Accounting student of Yaba College of Technology, said: “Since they are taking their wards abroad to school over there , they must have seen how well structured their education is, why can’t they emulate them and do the same thing here?
‘’Asking them to even stop their wards from studying abroad might actually be too much to ask from them. They should just make sure they emulate the high standards there and improve education in the country.They should stop owing lecturers, structure our education so well that it can attract international students.”