By Angela Atabo
Future Pathways Development Initiative (FPDI), an NGO has co-opted students into proffering solutions to challenges in the tertiary education sector.
The Executive Director of FPDI, Mr Ayokunnu Ojerniyi made this known at the grand finale of the NGO’s first policy competition organised for university students titled: “Improving the Quality of Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria”.
Ojerniyi said the measure became imperative knowing that there were challenges in the sector, therefore, one of the ways to get answers was to organise the competition.
He said this was by engaging those in the system and using the students “who feel the pains much more than anyone’’.
He said that the goal of the policy competition was aimed at inspiring Nigerian youths to actively participate in the public policy processes.
He said that it was to also cultivate and collate the younger h population’s ideas for addressing some of Nigeria’s developmental concerns.
“We thought that it was good for us to engage our young people during the ASUU strike to share their ideas.
“So, we called for entries and we had about 520 groups of students responding by sending out policy memos, and we went through the process of screening those memos and we came out with the top 10 finalists.
“Some issues that stood out were that there was admission dearth, funding problem and that government alone cannot solve that problem.
“So, there were ideas on how we can solve the problem looking at the possibilities of student loans, education banks and so on.”
Ojerniyi said the idea was to see how funding for education could be improved because it was clear that the budget alone could not support the desired growth.
He said the students drew experiences and learning from developed world where top schools have empowerment funds for students.
He said organisation also looked at how the private sector, philanthropies and others could fund education.
He said the FPDI would publish the entries for the top 10 finalists and project it in a way that it could be easily accessed and understood by the public and policymakers with the goal to spark conversations.
Ojerniyi said the completion would hold annually to help in improving the quality of education, which would in turn affect employment because students would be more productive and be job creators rather than job seekers.
At the end of the competition, Mr Emmanuel Opatola and Yusuf Babatunde, came first with a cash prize of N250, 000 for “Team Quality and Sustainable Education”.
Mr Olamilekan Adebanjo and Mr Boluwatife Faturoti came second with a cash prize of N100, 000.
Miss Precious Adeleke came third with a cash prize of N50, 000. (NAN)