Abuja - A former President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Oladipo Fashina, on Monday said that 54 per cent of Nigerians were illiterates.
Fashina spoke at the opening of National Education Summit with theme "Toward a System of Education for Liberation in Nigeria,’’ held in Abuja.
He said that only 15 per cent of Nigerians had managed to attain higher education since the country’s independence 54 years ago.
"The present crisis in education is an offshoot of the neo-liberal misdirection which Nigerian people did not choose.
"Our rulers still insist in the main that the solution to the crisis in education lies with flooding the country with private schools, universities and commercialised education to operate in acceptance with market rules.
"This explains why public expenditure on education has never gone anywhere near the UNESCO prescription that each country should expend at least 26 per cent of its national budget on education,’’ he said.
Fashina said that Nigerian education had also witnessed policy somersaults arising from inadequate conception of the philosophy, purpose and practice of education and class domination.
He noted that for effective national development in the education sector, it must be re-conceptualised in a manner that would make it capable of performing its transformative functions for the nation at large.
Fashina said that the summit would chart a new pathway for educational delivery capable of fostering the needed body of knowledge, skills, value and ethics in liberating education system, among others.
"We are expected to come up with viable proposals the acceptance and execution of which will bring about a re-engineering and liberation of the education sector.’’
The Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, commended the organisers of the summit, which he said was timely.
Shekarau, who was represented by Ann Harrison, the Deputy Director, Institution Services, said that the summit would not only identify mistakes but strengthen the sector.
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"The summit will also strengthen the pitfalls to avoid in the future and also come up with recommendations that will move the sector forward,’’ he said.
Prof. Biodun Jeyifo, an academic don at Harvard University, Cambridge U.S., who is also the Chairman of the summit condemned the educational module which Nigeria still adopts.
Jeyifo said that lack of proper implementation of the education policies were the reasons Nigerian universities produced graduates that were unemployable.
He noted that corruption and policy somersault were at the core factors limiting the education potentials of the country.
The summit was jointly organised by Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) National Association of Academic Technologists (NAATS).
Others are Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational, Associated Institutions (NASU) and including coalition of civil societies.