From Francis Akinnodi, Ondo
The Vice-Chancellor, University of Medical Sciences, UNIMED, Ondo, Prof. Friday Okonofua, FAS, has said that the major challenges facing the education sector in Nigeria are lack of good leadership and improper utilisation of funds.
Speaking with newsmen in Ondo, Okonofua also recommended strategies for improving access to education in the country.
The Vice-Chancellor stressed the need for policies and strategic plans, accreditation of programmes, maintenance of regular academic calendar, strengthening of research and research policies in tertiary institutions, university-industry linkage, staff discipline, conflict resolution and work ethics, as well as university autonomy.
He said: “The problem of our education system is not entirely funding. Even when the funds are provided, the capacity to utilise them in a way that will advance education in this country is just not there. When you are the leader somewhere, do your best to ensure that you make a difference.
“Look at UNIMED, for example, the state government is doing a lot in terms of funding but they cannot do it alone, so we embark on fund raising drive to support the government and I can tell you, a lot of people are coming on board to support the first University of Medical Sciences that is training health workers in a multi-disciplinary way.
“We have people that we can point to as leaders who have actually changed the condition of their area. That is what every leader in the country should do. You cannot do everything, but the one that is within your capacity to do, do it well.”
Commenting on the merging of schools of Nursing and Midwifery in Akure with the university, he said the institution was established to train all health professionals and not only medical sciences saying when fully running, it will cover and run all health sciences professions successfully working in a holistic, amorous and multi-disciplinary atmosphere.
“Nursing is one of the critical areas of the health sector that is not equal in teams of human resources and also which programme is not well integrated in the academic curriculum.
“We know that nursing have been doing diploma courses in the past, but not long ago, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) decided that as from 2022 and 2023, they will reverse from being diploma to becoming graduate.
“And to actually actualise that, the Ondo State Government decided to merge the existing Schools of Nursing and Midwifery in Akure with the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo and as a result, we have established the facility of Nursing Science which comprise four departments making it a big training institution”, he added.
The vice-chancellor also dismissed the claim that Nigerian graduates are not employable. “I don’t think that is the case. However, we need to improve our economy to create jobs. We still depend on one product economy, which is not strong enough because we have many universities producing graduates yearly. We must improve the economy,” he said.
He thanked Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for his financial, moral and leadership support to the university describing him as a role model and a father to the institution, saying the school’s relationship with the host community remains cordial.
“I have worked in several communities but Ondo is the best; they are accommodating, peaceful and they never make demand. The Osemawe is one of the best traditional rulers in the country; highly knowledgeable, may be because he is a medical doctor, he understands our activities. The chiefs and indigenes have been donating to the school”.