As more religious bodies establish universities in Nigeria, a minister of education, Prof. Babs Fafunwa, has cautioned against using these institutions to promote religious intolerance and disunity.
Fafunwa told the News Agency of Nigeria [NAN] in Lagos, today that though the establishment of private universities should be encouraged, those founded by religious groups should teach religious tolerance and promote national cohesion.
He stressed the need for privately established tertiary institutions in the country to adhere strictly to the regulations of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and to faithfully contribute to the nation's educational development.
"They should be able to do what they were established to do. If they were established as universities, they should be seen to be that; but if they are interested in promoting their religious teachings, they should go for theology schools.
"My worry is that many of these universities may be for business purposes," Fafunwa said, adding that,at the moment, there were about 150 applications by individuals and groups for the establishment of private universities.
"We must control the quality and quantity of these universities for the sake of our children's futures," he emphasized.
In his comments on the issue also yesterday in Lagos, Chief Babs Animasaun, national president of Parents/ Teacher Association of Nigeria [NAPTAN] urged the NUC to adequately regulate the activities of private universities.
"We expect the NUC to provide conditions that will limit religion and profit maximization in private universities to prevent abuse.
"We need more universities indeed since only 10 per cent of qualified candidates secure admission at the moment. But, these institutions must be credible, focused, well funded and with qualified staff," Animasaun stressed.
He urged the private universities to offer scholarships to deserving students and to provide affordable education to Nigerians irrespective of religious beliefs so as to meaninfully contribute to the nation's growth.