National Universities Commission (NUC) has began the collection of data to assess the readiness of all universities for a possible resumption date for academic activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Executive secretary of the Commission, Abubakar Adamu Rasheed disclosed this Tuesday in Abuja while briefing newsmen on the ongoing contributions of Nigerian universities to national response to COVID-19.
Represented by deputy executive secretary, Academics, Dr Suleiman Ramon Yusuf, the NUC boss stated that efforts are also ongoing in finding solution to Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike and reopening of universities.
He noted that the Commission is already working with universities in terms of what kind of preparation should be put in place before reopening, adding that once that is done universities not under ASUU watch can go back to classes.
He said; “We have a template to vice Chancellors of all universities requesting them to suggest to us what kind of protocols and strategies are they putting in place in the various institutions. We are collecting some of the responses which have already started coming in and at the end of the day the picture should emerge about the extent to which our universities are prepared to reopen for academic activities.”
Speaking on the various contributions being made by Nigerian universities, Rasheed said over thirty two Universities in the country have so far involved in researches that are aimed at mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stated that a compendium put together by the Commission showed Nigerian universities are making contribution, stressing that University of Jos which is leading in herbal and natural product development could do more if federal government release more funds to such institutions for research purposes.
According to him, “As in many other parts of the world, the pandemic has challenged our knowledge system, which has proved inadequate and insufficiently robust enough to respond to the challenges. Only few institutions have been able to utilize open and distance learning system to keep students engaged while the pandemic lasted and only few laboratories continued with research and development activities.
“Nonetheless, the few who engaged in research and innovation work have demonstrated the need for a well-funded and robustly organized national research and innovation system to catalyse the national response.
“The performance of the African Centers of Excellence, particularly the Center for the Genomics of Infectious Diseases at the Redeemer’s University, Ede in Sequencing SARS-CoV-2 virus, the collaborative development of vaccines with the University of Cambridge and as a pioneer national testing and screening centre and the other ACES in ABU, BUK, UNILAG, UNIBEN, UNIPORT and UNIJOS that also served as national testing and screening centres have proved that world-class Research and Development work is possible in Nigeria.
“Furthermore, they demonstrate how the Nigerian University System can be readily effective and relevant to national development if research is valued and adequately funded and the institutions provided with resources to motivate researchers and innovators, including students,” he added.