This debate has been going on now for quite some time in some quarters, with the evolution of the Nigerian educational system to accommodate private companies and/or individuals to venture into the educational sector. Nigerians have been wondering which Higher Institution is better between the public universities and the private universities. There was a time when if a child does not attend a Federal or State University, but most especially Federal, the child is seen as a dull child who cannot get the cut-off mark that would earn him or her a spot in the admission list to a prestigious Federal University. Moreso, the parents make the child re-write JAMB examinations in order to get the desired cut-off mark to study in that prestigious University. There was nothing wrong then in writing JAMB examination twice or even three times. In those days, that was some 15-10 years ago there was pride in hard work and intelligence.
There was also a time in Nigeria where the graduates of State Universities were discriminated by the graduates of Federal Universities and this was all long ago. We can even say this was all once upon a time.
Now, the tempo has changed and the evolution of the Nigerian educational system can be viewed either as a bad thing or as a good thing. The Nigerian population has exploded and the Government was not fast enough to move with the tide of times. Hence, private individuals and companies and churches all teamed up to tap the opportunities in the educational sector. With the co-operation of the Government, Private Universities were born.
Madonna University can be said to be one of the first private university established in Nigeria. I remember when their tuition was N80,000 or so and that was a lot of money in those days and those days were a very long time ago.
Private Universities in Nigeria are known not for their excellence but exorbitant fees which increases by virtue of the discipline one studies. For professional courses such as law and medicine, the fees are way higher. Here is a list of some Private Universities’ fees as stated by Nigerian scholars just to give you an idea of what we are discussing here. And I believe this is just bare minimum as it must have gone higher than this:
Redeemer’s University- N571,000
Caleb University – N505,000
Achiever’s University – N420,000
Ajayi Crowder University- N500,000
Benson Idahosa University – N500,000
Afe Babalola University- N690,000
American University of Nigeria- N1,590,000
Igbinedion University – N643,000
Crawford University – N480,000
You will surely agree with me, that you can buy a car or a plot of land in some less developed city with these fees. Imagine paying this for a consecutive period of 4 years or 5 years for about 2 or 4 children. This does not include their pocket money or stipend, money for associations, library fees, clothes etc and whatever needs your child will concoct to extort money from you in order not to be left out in the fashion world of his or her peers.
What comes to one’s mind upon a glance at these fees is that only the rich and privileged can take their children to these schools. Again, these schools must be really top tier schools providing excellent education with the required practical skills being taught to make your child the best in his or her field. One would also think that the cut-off mark of these schools will be higher than Federal Universities since they are top-notch or ought to be top-notch. But the contrary is the case, they dish out grades like national cake and it appears students who go to Private Universities are students who are not smart enough or fortunate enough to get into the Federal and State Universities.
Imagine parents working hard all their lives to give their children the best education and yet after scraping and making serious sacrifice to raise the funds for tuition, their children end up with an inferior standard of education. Having only paper qualification to their names without the requisite skills and expertise.
The Federal and State Universities detested for strikes and snobbery end up in most cases providing better graduates who uphold the standard of their institution by making better grades or maintaining their grades in general places of learning such as the Nigerian law school.
What of the discrimination experienced by some Private Universities or even State Universities? For instance, some Banks and Companies have a list of Universities whose graduates are employable by them. It means if your University does not make that list no matter what grade you graduate with, you cannot be employed.
Have you also noticed that unlike State and Federal Universities, Private Universities hardly ever have students drop out of the institution because of carry overs/poor academic performance. They have what you call ‘summer school’ where students with carry overs pay extra and are taught for a few weeks and asked to rewrite the exam. In which case, those students do not have to re-seat for exams they failed with their juniors. Cool, right? Or does this just breed a culture of laziness for the students. As they know that failing a course is not a big deal since they could always rewrite it.
If you are having this debate in your mind on the choice of University to enrol your child, perharps you should take some of the points highlighted above and below into consideration before making an informed decision.
- Instil discipline and the virtues of hard work in your child, instil the desire for excellence in your child to avoid payments of exorbitant fees to Private Universities.
- Private University is not a guarantee of your child getting a good job upon graduation. Your child must work extra hard to prove his or herself in the real world as most companies look at graduates of Private Universities with disdain.
- The University your child attends does not make him or her to become the most successful or influential person in the world. It is determination, time and chance that can take your child to the city of influence and success.
- Remember your child will not appreciate your sacrifice and hard work to pay the exorbitant fees of Private Universities. They will always see it as your obligation to them.
- Federal and State Universities are plagued with strikes and your child might end up spending more years in school than is necessary.
- Most Universities in Nigeria do not encourage independent thoughts or actions from the students, they expect them to cram a hand out and pour out the contents in an exam hall, thereby reducing the standard of our education as it becomes a case of garbage in and garbage out.
- Most Private Universities are non-profit making institutions, so why the exorbitant fees?
- Research properly on the standard of the University you intend enrolling your child, so that your child does not become unemployable by virtue of the University he or she attended. Also so that your child does not end up being a graduate of an unaccredited course or school.
In deciding on the school, remember that not everyone has the means to enrol their children in Private Universities and not every child have the brains to attend the best Federal and State Universities in Nigeria.