Should Church Universities be Free for Members?

By Nneka Okumazie

According to the National Universities Commission (NUC), Nigeria has 170 universities, with 79 private and 32 owned by church groups. But, of all, none are, known to be, working tirelessly on solving any major problem in Nigeria.

The solution a university can provide for electricity generation and distribution or to corruption, or unemployment, starvation, absolute poverty, sloppy healthcare, bad roads, disorganized housing, traffic, etc. is not the building or development.

Their solution can be design, modelling, studies, tiny experiments, various recommendations to one problem, or aspects of it, so whoever – public, private or foreign – is interested in projects in that area would see established paths, to build solutions.

Not the approach where many projects are like a gamble, and sometimes fail, or unsustainable – because no superfluity of independent studies or plans, or paths prior to development.

Yes, some universities have centres and advanced studies but none are – markedly – onto solutions to major problems in Nigeria.

How universities can help in solving problems of underdevelopment should be the noise, and move, not complain or excuses.

There are some solutions studies that will take a few thousand – if the group really knows what to do. Also, their publications can be relatable and positioned for usefulness.

There are some states or government areas that will be willing for some solutions – they can be the targets of the studies. And if there are none interested, the group can keep doing the studies – selflessly, making it accessible, so whoever does garbage project would be shamed for ignoring appropriate knowledge.

This should have been the standard expected of all universities, instead, misplaced agitation is against church universities and why they aren’t free.

People often cite missionary schools, but free missionary schools meant sponsors paid for it. Population or interest in education then was not as much as it presently is, and the society was probably more honest than now: because free can be abused and wrecked.

There would have been times the missionary schools went through budget constraints but had to maintain the tuition-free status, using additions or strategies from wherever else, but never disclosed.

It is super backward to compare missionary schools of the past to church universities.

If a university continuously works on studies on how to scrap poverty, they will find great solutions. If the solutions are used – externally – it would be more impactful to many, than just free tuition for one, or some, out of the explosive population of the nation.

Yes, church universities with scholarship for members should communicate it better. And maybe increase quotas. But their higher duty – to an extent – lies in the solution they can provide to society.

Any university can have any structure, beauty, order, facility, or star professor, but without contributions to how the country can move forward in great ways, the school offers incomplete education.

Nigeria had thought that graduates were not sound enough hence the need for more private universities, but with tens of universities and technology, more graduates are better.

The problem may not be quality of grammar, knowledge or exposure. It is probably that there’s no passion to solve the problems of the country.

There are many who go for training or learn something for the purpose of work and pay, which is close to what education is, across the country.

But another path is to learn – for competence, to focus solely on solutions to the problems of the country. There are great ideas possible on how to solve the problem of bed shortages at emergency wards of tertiary clinics.

There are great ideas possible on how to ease rush hour traffic. There are great ideas possible on how to improve electricity generation and distribution.

There are great ideas possible on how to increase income, increase purchasing power and to better the conditions of living – as angles to eradicating poverty.

These ideas can come from studies, models or designs as realistic recommendations; setting up paths for solution.

There are students who struggled to attend federal and state universities, but after graduation, no work. Unemployment is a bigger problem, possible for many, than whose church member’s child went to what university for free.

How can universities do thousands of studies on how to solve unemployment in Nigeria? How can these be useful and adaptable across sectors?

Yes, members of churches should have more opportunity to go to the schools that belong to the church, using different kinds of scholarships or loan models.

But should the church provide work too, afterwards, for all?

Nigeria is sometimes uncomfortable to many. There is no joy in gross darkness. There are pole problems, transformer outages, distribution imbalance, underwhelming generation, etc. Yes, it is expensive to do major electricity projects but studies on problems and solutions are possible, for cheap, across Universities.

All those who criticize church university for fees probably hate the church. They may also think true church growth is just underdevelopment, NO. It is about faith, hope and worship – in Spirit and in truth.

In the advanced countries cited to spite church growth in Nigeria, the fiercest knowledge of psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, etc. is yet to understand or solve most mind and behavioural problems. There are stories of the effects on many every day, with meds, therapy, etc. failing for some.

It is true that prayer points change elsewhere because of development, but in advanced countries, there is hate, wickedness, bitterness, envy, deceit, unknown intention, pride, greed, evil, desperation, intrusive thoughts, etc. An infrastructure does not solve any of these.

If anyone is on the receiving end of those, by someone more privileged, or say dominant, the person would wish they knew how to ask Jesus for help – in the ways He can answer.

Nigeria may be tending towards the ideal society of survival for the fittest. A phenomenon some learned about and run their lives by, but detrimental to the good of the society.

As population grows and opportunities thin, it is impossible to not have more competition on one thing, and many doing whatever it takes to get it. No university seems to be working on solutions for the future to prepare for more people pursuing less stuff.

Church universities can teach discipline, sound education and help to solve problems of the society. But if any university is free for all students and does nothing else to solve community problems that school may be waiting to fail.

It is always great to remember, for devout Christians, that Christ is the model of Christianity, not any Pastor, or church, or individual.

[Hebrews 12:2, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] Faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God.]

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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