The former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission gave the advice at the 9th Convocation ceremony of Crawford University.
He said that half of the problems bedeviling Nigeria’s educational system would be solved if the country engages quality teachers and provide good welfare scheme for them.
Okebukola said that there should be a penalty for those either in the public or private organisations that treated teachers with disdain.
“We need to penalise, name and shame all employers, public and private, who treat teachers in Nigeria like `Libya slaves’.
“Until the day when these five strategies I will mention are implemented, Nigeria’s education system will continue to grope in the dark and national development will fall deep into an abysmal pit.
“Over the last eight years, studies have shown conclusively that the master key which opens the intricate door to quality education is the teacher; the success story is the quality training and welfare of teachers.
“Our findings published has shown that if we engage quality teachers and provide good welfare scheme for them, more than half of the problems facing the education system would have been solved,’’ he said.
Okebukola said that Nigeria could copy from countries such as Finland and Korea, which revived their economy by taking care of their education system.
“In countries like Finland and Korea, only the very best are admitted for teacher training and when they graduate, they are paid well and are the envy of other professionals.
“In Nigeria, the typical faculties of education of a university admit largely the dregs from the pool of UTME applicants. In 2017, application for courses in education and agriculture were the fewest.
“Most students want to read medicine, law engineering and what they consider as prestige courses. Those that studied education are like horses that are forced to the river to drink graduates as teachers.
“These set are severally shallow in the subject they are to teach. I was alarmed to hear that what a graduate teacher earns per month in some private secondary schools is about N20,000 and N15,000,’’ he said.
Okebukola said that the five cardinals to improve the education system were to revamp the curriculum, suspend all sandwich programmes, do teachers recruitment, implement teachers’ salary scale and punish those that maltreat teachers.
“Firstly, we need to completely revamp the curriculum of all teacher training institutions, including Nigeria Teachers’ Institute (NTI), all Colleges of Education and all Faculties of Education in our Universities.
“The curriculum should have severe reduction in the number of education courses and huge increase in the courses for the teaching subjects; this can be achieved in 2018.
“Second is to suspend all sandwich and distance-learning teachers training programmes since this is the hotbed for training mediocre teachers. The third is on teachers’ recruitment.
“Only properly trained and certificated teachers holding Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) should be recruited; lastly is to punish those that are treating teachers unfairly,’’ he said
The 9th Convocation of Crawford University has 230 graduates and 40 Postgraduates.
A breakdown shows that 152 graduated from the College of Business and Social Sciences, while 78 graduated from the College of Natural and Applied Sciences.
Twenty-two are awarded first class, 88 with Second Class Upper Division, 83 Second Class Lower Division, 35 Third Class and two passes.
The faith-based university is owned by the Apostolic Faith Church, West and Central Africa.