Of fake certificates and illegal campuses, by Jide Ayobolu

Education minister

The Federal Government has vowed to clamp down on illegal satellite campuses and affiliations with foreign unaccredited universities as well as carry out an evaluation of certificates obtained by some Nigerians from foreign universities.

Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, spoke recently in Abuja during the inauguration of the 34th National Standing Committee (NSC) on the evaluation of foreign qualifications.

He said there would be no hiding place for those operating illegal campuses in Nigeria claimed to be affiliated with non-existing foreign universities, stressing that the era of “Boys Quarter” degrees were over and for good.

He said this was in line with the present administration’s quest for ensuring that Nigerian students obtain foreign qualifications that are internationally competitive, and of high academic and moral excellence.

He said, the Standing Committee was constituted for the purpose of determining the Nigerian equivalent of certificates and degrees of foreign institutions, a statement, recently, in Abuja by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Mr Ben Bem Goong, said.

Adamu has accordingly directed the Committee to ensure that “the quality groundwork already laid for evaluation is progressively improved upon in such a manner that inspires national and international confidence.”

He expressed hope that the outcome of the Committee’s proceedings would improve the protocol of evaluating foreign education certificates and other related issues.

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Arch Sonny Echono, revealed that the Standing Committee was constituted in 1914 to evaluate the Nigerian equivalent of academic diplomas and degrees obtained from Eastern European countries.

He, however, lamented that the advent of distance learning and establishment of “numerous sub-standard tertiary institutions in the country have made the situation more complex.” Echono also explained that the government in its quest to make the evaluation process less cumbersome has dedicated an online portal to which applicants could now send their requests.

The Permanent Secretary disclosed the Ministry’s intention to improve on the portal’s functionality for optimum and seamless operations. He subsequently urged members of the Standing Committee to put in their best in ensuring that the menace of illegal foreign certificates is eradicated.

Speaking earlier, Dr Lydia Giginna, Director Education Support Service department of the Ministry expressed hope that full compliance with the new protocol will complement the Ministry’s efforts aimed at reducing the use of illegitimate and forged foreign degree certificates in the country.

The Terms of Reference, (ToR) for the National Standing Committee include; to deal with the broad principles of evaluation, fine-tune and improve the established criteria for the evaluation of foreign qualifications as well as decide the Nigerian equivalent of foreign educational qualifications.

Others are: “To objectively consider briefs on respective foreign countries’ education system presented by Desk Officers, with a view to deciding Nigerian equivalents to such country’s qualifications.

“To consider emerging challenges emanating from routine evaluations by Federal Ministry of Education’s Desk Officers and to serve as the appellate body to appraise representations from aggrieved individuals on emerging routine evaluation issues and; Carry out other assignments relevant to its mandate.”

Education is the best tool to bring a positive change in society, to develop a generation of responsible individuals and contribute to the development of good human beings. The fundamental purpose of education is to gain knowledge, understand the forms of proper conduct and acquire technical competency in specific subject(s). Education serves as the means to develop oneself physically, mentally and socially. Here’s how education makes a difference in one’s life.

The importance of education manifests itself in the need to cultivate youths to become mature individuals. Youth is the growing stage of their lives.

It is during these years that they develop from kids to become mature and responsible individuals. It is during this phase that they make career decisions and begin pursuing their goals.

Education should consist of training and development in their field(s) of interest. It should help the youths define their career objectives, decide what they want from life and enable them to achieve what they wish to.

Education to youths must aim at helping them build a skill set and work on the skills acquired to develop subject expertise. It should include courses that can help them develop a career. Education should open doors for new opportunities in different fields.

It should help the youths find avenues to pursue their interests. It should enable them to venture into new fields and explore new areas. Education must help them set reachable goals and realize them.

It is important that education to youths aims at developing social awareness in these adults-to-be. The training given to them should consist of environmental education and social values.

They should be made aware of the current social and environmental issues. They should be explained the steps they can take in dealing with the issues. Education should expose the youths even to the darker side of society; the problems that eclipse it, the prejudices that shackle it and the superstitions that blind it. Youths should be encouraged to come up with ideas and devise ways to better the society that they are part of.

Overpopulation, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, unprotected sex and teenage pregnancy are some areas of growing concern today. The reason – lack of sex education. Incomplete knowledge in this regard or wrong notions about sex breed psychological problems in teenagers. This underlines the importance of sex education to youths. Education should make the youths self-aware.

While instilling the good in youths, education should also give them the ability to reject the bad. It should enable them to choose good against bad. Education should empower them to take decisions and make choices – each time preferring right to wrong. Education should give them the strength to accept the mistakes made, mend them and most importantly – learn from them. Education should give them the courage to rise after every fall and turn every failure into a success.

The fundamental purpose of education is to create good human beings. Education is vital to the healthy growth and development of one’s personality. In producing human beings out of raw individuals lies the importance of education.

Education broadens our horizon and gives us a better understanding of the world around us and how things work. The world needs education since it is the basis of a civilized, structured society. Education helps people to think rationally and avoid illusions in life. It reduces social and economic disparity, allowing progress to be shared equally.

On an average, educated people have more meaningful and interesting jobs than those held by uneducated people. They are usually in a position to make decisions at work. This results in higher job satisfaction which leads to a better quality of life.

Educated people are found to have higher self-esteem. Their lives are mostly well-planned and have a definite direction. They have better problem-solving skills and are consequently better equipped to handle everyday decisions. Children of educated parents have access to better education facilities. These children have a higher cognitive development as compared to children of uneducated parents.

Educated people are better positioned to contribute positively to society, and even towards the environment, as they understand the implications of their choices and actions. In developing countries, education is viewed as means to alleviate poverty and engineer social change. It isn’t a magic pill for solving all the problems. But it can surely be a ladder to climb out of poverty, exclusion, ignorance, oppression, and war.

Education, as a discipline, is concerned with methods of teaching and learning in schools or school-like environments as opposed to various non-formal and informal means of socialization (e.g., rural development projects and education through parent-child relationships).

Education can be thought of as the transmission of the values and accumulated knowledge of a society.

In this sense, it is equivalent to what social scientists term socialization or enculturation. Children—whether conceived among New Guinea tribespeople, the Renaissance Florentines, or the middle classes of Manhattan—are born without culture.

Education is designed to guide them in learning a culture, molding their behaviour in the ways of adulthood, and directing them toward their eventual role in society. In the most primitive cultures, there is often little formal learning—little of what one would ordinarily call school or classes or teachers. Instead, the entire environment and all activities are frequently viewed as school and classes, and many or all adults act as teachers.

As societies grow more complex, however, the quantity of knowledge to be passed on from one generation to the next becomes more than any one person can know, and, hence, there must evolve more selective and efficient means of cultural transmission. The outcome is formal education—the school and the specialist called the teacher.

As society becomes ever more complex and schools become ever more institutionalized, educational experience becomes less directly related to daily life, less a matter of showing and learning in the context of the workaday world, and more abstracted from practice, more a matter of distilling, telling, and learning things out of context.

This concentration of learning in a formal atmosphere allows children to learn far more of their culture than they are able to do by merely observing and imitating. As society gradually attaches more and more importance to education, it also tries to formulate the overall objectives, content, organization, and strategies of education. Literature becomes laden with advice on the rearing of the younger generation. In short, they develop philosophies and theories of education.

In my opinion, “People without education are like weapons without bullets.” Right after our birth, we have, in one way or the other, been imparted education. It would be no exaggeration to think of education vis a vis people like petals of the same flower or like two sides of the same coin, one entirely relying upon the other. Education is exceedingly instrumental for the realization of one’s innate self, strength, natural fitness, and factual being. Education is so necessary and essential that its insufficiency or absence may lead one to choose an improper path of life.

One may turn back the pages of history and re-examine primitive societies and their barbaric lives. It is the best way to realize the need for education. Many ineffective, modern educational systems have proved successful in opening people’s eyes, but they have closed people’s minds.

It is very important to analyze needs and improvise the support system to ensure a better future for forthcoming generations. Its purpose should be to empower mind and soul, to achieve its full potential.

Jide Ayobolu is a Lagos-based public affairs analyst

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