In recent years, Nigeria has experienced several industrial actions within the higher education sector due to the underfunding of education in the country. University lecturers, organised under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), have consistently called for adequate funding and the revitalisation of public universities through strikes, some of which last nearly a year. The most recent strike occurred between February 14th, 2022, and October 14th, 2022.
To address challenges related to research, teaching, learning, and academic manpower production at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria, North West Nigeria, the MacArthur Foundation has bestowed a grant of $15,538,896. This announcement was made on Jan. 10 by the Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Kabiru Bala, and was subsequently confirmed by Dr. Kole Shettima, the Africa Director of the MacArthur Foundation, during the university’s Diamond Jubilee Public Lecture.
Acknowledging this support, Professor Bala stated, “I must put on public record that, other than our proprietor, the Federal Government of Nigeria, and its agencies like the TETFund (Tertiary Education Trust Fund), no individuals or organisations have provided more financial support to ABU from 1999 to 2010 than the MacArthur Foundation.”
The Vice-Chancellor further underscored the foundation’s past support, expressing gratitude for its contributions to the university’s ICT infrastructure and the establishment of essential centres such as Development Communication, Rural Finance, Veterinary and Public Health, and Reproductive Health.
During the lecture, Dr Shettima said the MacArthur Foundation, founded in 1970 in Chicago, United States of America (USA), is a global institute that has awarded about $792 billion to approximately 117 countries. The foundation entered Nigeria in 1994, focusing on initiatives around girls’ secondary education, human rights, and more. Its current work centres on accountability and anti-corruption and is slated to conclude in December 2024.
During his speech, Dr Shettima highlighted the challenges facing the academic and other sectors in Nigeria, particularly brain drain.
He urged the government and other stakeholders to take more responsibility in funding universities, particularly in transparency and accountability, which he emphasised are essential for the future development of the universities.
The chairman of the occasion, Alhaji Munir Ja’afaru, made the same appeal, calling upon the government to prioritise funding for ABU, Zaria, and other institutions facing similar challenges. He stated, “Education is the bedrock of any nation’s progress, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that those institutions have the necessary resources to flourish.” He further urged the alumni community and members of the university staff to safeguard the institution from collapse, ensuring that future generations have access to qualitative and quantitative education.
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