NIGERIA: Why no worry about rankings failure?

I refer to your article regarding the Nigerian government's decision to allow polytechnics and colleges to award degrees (14 September 2008) and to the previous week's report on Indonesian universities' poor world ranking. Go through a list of university world ranking and you will not find a Nigerian university in the top 600. Of course, the Nigerian government, unlike its Indonesia counterpart, is unfazed about this as are our university administrators.

What appears constant about Nigerian universities is conflict and disruption. More degrees yes, but to what extent? Are Nigerian universities better off today than they were 25years back? How have they contributed to the body of knowledge and of solving the problems besetting mankind? More degrees - what are they worth?

It's a pity, but the ills of the Nigerian university system are symptomatic of the general malaise of the Nigerian society. At independence, there were great hopes but, shortly thereafter, our leaders dropped the ball on us simply because they lost focus.

They have failed to pull the country up by her shoe straps. They have failed to demonstrate selfless and committed leadership! Hence, in the words of the legendary writer Chinua Achebe, "things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold".

Will anyone tell me what is the goal of Nigeria's national educational policy and who is in charge? What are its priorities and objectives for the 21st century?

Suffice to say that the individual Nigerian student by dint of hard work and resilient abilities is able to compete with the best in the world, but the institutions are neither run for progress nor for the collective good of the society.

* Adenyi Bello was formerly on the staff of the University of Lagos in Nigeria. He is at present pursuing a doctoratal degree programme in the United States.