THE Federal government has promised to assist University of Nigeria to develop coal-powered and solar turbines to generate power for Nsukka campus of the university and its environs.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who made the promise during the 50th anniversary celebration and Founders’ Day lecture at Nsukka, said the Federal Government was committed to ensuring the provision of the enabling environment for Nigerian universities to contribute optimally to defining and shaping the society.
President Jonathan, who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, said the Ministers of Education, Science and Technology as well as Power and Mines and Steel would work with the University of Nigeria to develop coal-powered or solar turbines for use of the university and its host community as a pioneer project. President Jonathan believed the project would also offer practical research and learning experience to the faculty and students in the course of its execution.
He noted that there were several challenges in the Nigerian universities system in the next half century which required concerted action by all stakeholders of the educational system. These, he said, included how to make Nigerian universities attain world-class status through the development of relevant curricula and enabling learning environment.
Jonathan said the universities must play a central role in rebuilding Nigeria’s economy and in meeting society’s most crucial needs. He identified these as “an educated citizenry and a competent workforce”, which according to him, are necessary in order to strengthen our young democracy and our ability to compete in a global economy.
Sounding upbeat, the President said at this defining moment of the 50th anniversary of the nation and the University of Nigeria, “We will draw from what previous generations of Nigerians have done, and unleash the resolve of our people, unlock the potential of our country through its education system, and make sure that Nigeria remains a symbol of hope, of opportunity, and prosperity for all the world”.
President Jonathan added, “The University of Nigeria is a critical component of this change process and I am delighted to share this very memorable occasion with you. I believe that together, we will be able to truly reflect the motto of this university, “To Restore the Dignity of Man” in every aspect of our education system and national framework”.
Vice President Sambo commissioned on behalf of the president the N3.8b ICT Infrastructure programme of the University of Nigeria sponsored by Google Inc under its Africa University Access Programme in collaboration and partnership with several ICT firms including MTN Nigeria, Main One Limited, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft Corporation, BCX Networks, Wavion Inc, and Xirrus Limited of Israel.
According to Vice Chancellor Prof Bartho Okolo the project would enable the institution provide always-on wireless Internet access to all four campuses of the institution as well as enable it replace blackboards with electronic learning whiteboards under its Global Classroom project.
President Jonathan said the Federal Government would empower universities in Nigeria through various policy measures including allowing them to bid for the research component of public-sector jobs to assist them earn revenue as well as offer practical experience to students and faculty. Jonathan asked the Bureau of Public Procurement to work out the modalities to ensure that the universities are enabled to bid for such jobs.
The President said the Federal Government was concerned about the various vexing issues in the education sector including the poor performance nationwide of students in various examinations. He announced the establishment of the Presidential Commission on Education and Knowledge Economy to examine the various issues in the education sector in the light of local and global developments in the knowledge economy.
According to President Jonathan, ““We would be setting up the Presidential Commission for the Study of Issues in Education and the Knowledge Economy to examine critically the issues, causes, and requisite frameworks for ensuring better competitiveness of Nigerian Education including the much-neglected Technical and Vocational Education”.
Jonathan said the Presidential Commission on Education & Knowledge Economy would have a broad-based representation and membership from the public and private sectors, as well as across disciplines.