The northern elite and education

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Education has been described as the greatest legacy any society can bequeath to its citizens. Human civilisation would not have attained such dizzying heights today without the benefits of education. For example, education does not only liberate individuals from the shackles of ignorance and superstition, but also empowers them to challenge long held orthodoxies with a view to giving reign to freedom of thought and action.
There is no gainsaying that the gap existing between the developed and developing countries is a function of qualitative education. While the developed countries have succeeded in making education an inalienable right of the citizens, those in the Third World still see it as the privilege of a reserved few. Even within societies, educational gaps still exist. Unfortunately, that situation is responsible for the lopsided nature of developments found in them and the deleterious consequences for the polity. Sadly, Nigeria remains one of the most educationally unequal societies in the world. This sad situation is being accentuated by the increasing gap between the North and the South.
Recent data by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) show that Nigeria has more than 10 million outof –school children. According to the agency, more than 65 percent of these live in the north. For long, Western education in that part of the country has been viewed with suspicion and even utter disdain. Rather, a culture that encourages the Almajiri syndrome has been allowed to flourish over the decades. These children are a common sight in many northern states. In the end, the bulk of them are left to fester at the margins of society throughout their lives for no fault of theirs. Most of the children recruited by Boko Haram insurgents are believed to belong to this group.
Matters are not helped by the fact that tertiary education in the South has been expanding at an exponential rate as a result of private-sector intervention. Gone are the days when governments had the monopoly of establishing universities and polytechnics. Today, many private universities are springing up in the South to avail those qualified the chances of gaining admission and pursuing their educational careers. The consequence is that some states in the South have been producing far more university graduates than the entire geopolitical North put together. This does not bode well for the country.
The northern elite must step in to stem the dwindling fortunes of education in the region. For long, governments in the region have been responsible for the few tertiary institutions there. That has posed handicaps to those seeking higher education. That is why we commend the efforts of former vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida for establishing private universities in the North. We call on others to emulate their example.

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