The inability of proprietors of private tertiary institutions to strike a balance between qualitative education and profit has made private universities out of reach of Nigerian middle class. YUSUF BABALOLA writes
The current state of the nation’s education sector has been a source of concern to every stakeholder especially the federal government that recently mulled an extra year of studies for graduates before proceeding on the mandatory National Youths Service Corp (NYSC).
The falling standard of tertiary education has also contributed to mass exodus of Nigerians to foreign universities while the children and wards of the poor are left to contend with a university system riddled with poor funding, lack of world class amenities and incessant strike actions.
To bridge the gap created by public universities, then came the birth of private universities but rather than solve the age long problems, it aggravated the problems confronting the nation’s education sector the more as exorbitant tuition fee that is above the reach of middle-class parents became the order.
The universities were unable to strike a balance between an affordable tuition fee and qualitative education.
But, despite the exorbitant tuitions charged to render qualitative tertiary education, there are still some private universities that have been able to strike balance between price, qualitative education and standard.
For instance, the Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), a non-profit private University, has been able to strike a balance between qualitative tertiary education and affordable fee for the Nigerian students and parents.
The institution, in order to encourage students to study agriculture, slashes tuition fee for students by half and also pays them N250, 000 on graduation day to start farming.
The institution founded by a lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), in 2009 has been ranked the second best private university in Nigeria and fourth best university in Nigeria.
The University Law programme has been described as the best in West Africa by the Immediate past Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie while the Engineering programme Is described by the immediate past president of the Nigerian Society of Engineers as the template for engineering education in Nigeria.
A former minister of health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan said the medical programme will be difficult for any other universities in Nigeria to equal.
ABUAD operates a collegiate system and has five major colleges. They are the College of Engineering, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, College of Sciences, College of Law and College of Social and Management Sciences.
The University in its eight years of existence has attracted over 8,000 students to her six colleges making it the fastest growing private university in Nigeria because of infrastructure, facilities, multi-system hospital for medical students and laboratories for engineering students.
ABUAD is about the first private university in Nigeria reputed to begin academic works in its permanent site.
However due to the requirement by the National University Commission that the school must possess a functioning teaching hospital and after having a failed memorandum of understanding with the federal government to make use of the Federal Medical Center (FMC) Ido-Ekiti, Ekiti State as its teaching hospital for a period of ten years beginning from October 2014, the school management decide to put up a world class multi- system hospital in the University campus.
Speaking with journalists after a tour of facilities in the institution recently, Chief Babalola said although the university is just eight years old, it has, within the period, received 100 per cent accreditation in all its 47 academic programmes.
“In the realm of medical education and quality medical care, we commissioned our ultra-modern 400-bed multi system hospital on October 20, last year. The hospital, which is built on 60 hectares of land, is equipped with most sophisticated and state-of-the-art hospital equipment that will enhance quality health care, teaching, training and research,” he said.
A partnership agreement was also held with Aster DM Healthcare of Dubai to operate and mange the multi-sysytem medical facilities in conjunction with Nigerian medical consultants.
According to the Provost of the multi-system hospital, Professor Rotimi Sanya, the facility is a quaternary hospital because it has facilities in place, which are not found in, near hospitals.
He described the hospital as currently the best equipped in the country and set to solve the brain drain issue with adequate preparation for any complex medical case. The hospital is also equipped with equipment that allows live streaming of medical procedures, which could be viewed by relatives of patients as well as by other resident doctors.
Experts have argued that the N50 billion health facilities that is the first of its kind in sub-Sahara Africa would help stem medical tourism in Nigeria. The hospital’s uniqueness lies not only in its edifice and serene environment, but also in the latest hi-tech diagnostic equipment and international consultants and doctors, who will work with their Nigerian counterparts to provide excellent teaching for the students, and research to provide solutions to most of the ailments that had hitherto defied medical solutions, as well as treat patients from all over the world at affordable costs.
Entering the hospital through the reception welcomes you to a different world of fully automated medical facility that leads to the Consulting Rooms, the Accident and Emergency (A&E) with 22 bed-space and two operating theatres, X-Ray room and staff lounge.
Other modern facilities available in the Hospital include Diagnostic Centre which has the following: CT SCAN, MRI, X-RAY, Ultrasound 2D, 3D, 4D, Modern Laboratory equipment (supplied and managed by the world-renowned Abbott Laboratory), Five Modular theatres, Pneumatic Tubes connecting 37 Floors, Medical Gas & Oxygen.
A patient begins to experience the wonders of modern technology. With the press of a button, whatever is needed, whether blood or drug, is supplied within minutes through Prematic tube.
The ABUAD Teaching Hospital is said to be the first to install the automated device that helps in medical transportation. It has 29 service centres that connect the Pharmacy, Laboratories, Five Modular theatres, and other operating theatres, Radio Frequency Cage, where the 2017 model of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was installed, and the wards.
The inter-operative teleconferencing technology five Modular theatres are amazing. They are not only being equipped with the best in the world, but they also have their uniqueness in the digital installations that allow medical students and patients’ relatives to watch the surgical operation as being performed, as well as interact with the surgeon, while dissecting the body without entering the theatre.
The innovative equipment used in the digital theatres will allow surgeons to have complete control over every aspect of the procedure.
Aside major wards, where each bed is connected with the oxygen, there are five-star rooms for wealthy patients, equipped with kitchenette and sophisticated gadget to provide maximum comfort while receiving treatment. Indeed, everything that is needed for the patient’s quick recovery is available.
On May 21, ABUAD will commission an 18m-fix dome planetarium. The first and only one in Africa with astronomical observatory and one of the largest fixed planetariums in the world. A university that began operation less than 10 years ago has taken effort to project into the future.
And as chief Babalola said, he founded ABUAD to revolutionize education in Nigeria and change Nigerian graduate from being unemployable and worthless.
“With what you have seen today while going around the University, we would like you to inform the public how we are revolutionising education in Nigeria.”
Chief Babalola also said he is setting an example for other proprietors that qualitative and functional education can be provided in Nigeria at affordable fee.
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