How many polytechnics will be transformed to universities before the state government realises quality education is not about numbers? 

Ondo State appears to have welcomed another big news and massive improvement in the existing structure of its academic institutions. The popular news became public knowledge when the Commissioner for Education in the State disclosed in the course of a media briefing the constitution of a committee, whose terms of reference include the assessment of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic and its readiness to transform to a university.

The future of our dear State is no longer safe if education is to be bastardised in this manner. How many polytechnics will be transformed to universities before the state realises quality education is not about numbers? 

Originally, the present day Rufus Giwa Polytechnic was previously known as The Polytechnic, Owo. It rose from the ashes of a 1979 eddict and military administration headed by outgoing Sunday Tuoyo and further blossomed during the era of Chief Micheal Adekunle Ajasin. Ajasin renamed the institution to the Ondo State Polytechnic in 1990. The further renaming of the institution after an Okeagbe-born businessman, Rufus Folusho Giwa, in the year 2003, was said to have sparked a massive protest in the state.

The prestigious legacy and collective heritage of the people of the state has assisted in churning products and unbeatable graduates, who have distinguished themselves in character and strictly practical learning. They have showed up with innovations and have penetrated every sector of the Nigerian system.

Apart from the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Ondo State boasts of three other tertiary institutions. They range from the premier Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko to the Olusegun Agagu University of Technology, Okitipupa, including the luxurious University of Medical Sciences in Ondo.

Though there is not much development yet, commercialization of universities all across Nigeria is on the rise, coupled with comatose infrastructural facilities, and substandard education. It is apparent that it is not a good time for a student to be in a university. 

Amidst all these, Governor Akeredolu, has consolidated the move to create more universities. But doing this was like talking from both sides of his mouth. Why will Akeredolu proceed to effect the transformation of the only Polytechnic in the State to a university when he had earlier lampooned his predecessor for politically facilitating the establishment of the University of Medical Sciences in his native Ondo town?

No doubt, the governor has not considered the effects of this transformation on the common citizens. The state is already struggling with education finance, and adding more burden to it is obviously not a way to go. Because a new university translates to increment in the number of Vice Chancellors to be paid, Registrars, Professors and so forth.

If the Governor could not see all this, it would seem like the state government is hypocritically leveraging on the directive of the federal government that mandated the conversion or merging of polytechnics with universities. Why are the policymakers not considering merging the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic with the Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba (AAUA) considering the proximity of both schools? Why can’t they make the polytechnic a college of technology teaching engineering courses in AAUA?

Akeredolu as the sitting governor must be sensitized on the far-reaching effects of this policy. It is evident that more universities does not translate to more education. In fact, when the state is overburdened with finance, having more universities might reduce education quality for the students. In the era of political hypocrisy, the state Governor should not fall victim to what he criticized.

Tunde Akingbondere, a Fellow at the Journalism for Liberty Fellowship, writes from Ondo State.

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