Delta Government has said that the three proposed universities, that would bridge the gap in the educational needs of the state, would take-off in the 2021/2022 academic session.
Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, Commissioner for Higher Education, told journalists, on Wednesday, in Asaba, that the universities would provide quality education for the people, pointing out that the exigencies of the times made the state government to transform three existing higher institutions, to universities.
“Federal Government, by a deliberate policy, has gradually phased out the HND diplomas,’’ the commissioner said, adding that this created the urgent need to upgrade one of the colleges to university of education, given the poor attraction of students to Colleges of Education, in spite of government’s expenditures to sustain the institutions.
He recalled that the state government, on Tuesday, transmitted an Executive bill to the House of Assembly, seeking to upgrade the College of Education, Agbor, to a University of Education.
“Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro, to become a University of Science and Technology, while Delta State University, Anwai Campus, Asaba, to be upgraded to a University of Science and Agriculture.
“We are hoping that for 2021/ 2022 academic session, we shall take off the new universities and gradually phase out programmes that are in the existing institutions.
“It will make for efficient, effective and qualitative delivery of service and funds management,’’ Muoboghare said.
He noted that upgrading the institutions would provide opportunities for qualified Delta youths seeking university admission, but were edged out due to quota system and limited available spaces.
“In 2019/2020 academic session, over 25,000 candidates took Delta State University, Abraka, as first choice.
“Out of this number, over 22,000 candidates qualified and applied for and wrote the post UTME examination, but only 4,854 could find space, leaving the remaining 21,042 candidates stranded and almost hopeless.
“These are the ones, who, in an attempt to avoid staying idle at home, find themselves in various expensive sub-degree programmes in the universities, polytechnics and college of education.
“So, we need to provide for qualified and ambitious children and this we are doing through the establishment of new universities, by upgrading three existing tertiary institutions to full-fledged universities,’’ he said.
The commissioner expressed worry that given the over 500 public secondary schools, and a greater number of private ones, turning out Senior Secondary School graduates annually thereby raising the number of admission seekers, could become a recipe for crime.
On funding, he said, no government in the world could fund education 100 per cent, but that the state policy was aimed at making the institutions to gradually become self-sustaining.
“The state government currently funds the monthly wage bills of N457.5 million for the three states colleges of education; Agbor, Mosogar and Warri with a total staff strength of 1,895 and student population of only 2,888,’’ Muoboghare said.
He said that the monthly wage bill for the three state’s polytechnics; Ozoro, Ogwashi-Uku and Oghara was N342.2 million, while that of Delta State University, Anwai Campus, was N52.3 million.
“The Federal Government, by a deliberate policy, is phasing out HND programmes from its institutions, meaning that the three polytechnics and the School of Marine Technology, Burutu, would be left with the production of only graduates of ND programmes.
“We decided that one of the polytechnics be upgraded to university to absorb those who will graduate from the Polytechnics, since HND is gradually being phased out.
“We have three Colleges of Education established for the NCE programme, as at then, each of the institutions can boost of 5,000 students.
“Our children are no longer interested in NCE programmes, so, we decided to upgrade one of the colleges of education to university to absorb those from the other two NCE awarding institutions,’’ Muoboghare said.
The Commissioner of Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, said that the passage of the bills to upgrade the three institutions into universities was a milestone in the state’s development trajectory.
According to him, the universities would offer opportunities to the people of the state, and to Nigerians seeking admission into any of the institutions.
He added that the government, society and individuals had a role to play in funding education in the state. (NAN).