For Nigerian Universities to live up to their roles of shaping the society, they must be able to identify social problems, work towards providing solutions and meet the needs of the people.
Also, government and well meaning wealthy Nigerians should show more interest in the universities through regular grants and endowments to universities in order to enable them live up to the name- citadel of learning.
This were part of the submissions of Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi at the second Convocation lecture of Osun State University, Osogbo.
The Governor who delivered a lecture on “Repositioning Nigerian Universities within a Dynamic Global University System: Challenges and Prospects” at the University’s auditorium on Monday, stressed the need to re-invent a University system that constantly relates research to local and global needs.
Fayemi who was an Academic before assuming office as Governor of Ekiti State in 2010, said the different departments in Nigerian Universities should be able to turn their theoretical knowledge to practical experience which would be able to meet the needs of the people.
“We need to address such questions as how to ensure that our engineering departments are able to pull resources to end our power generation, distribution and supply problem. Our scholars in the engineering departments both at home and abroad, have the capacity for this. Therefore, how can we empower them to become social problem-solvers rather than mere repeaters of theories in the classrooms?”, he said.
While stressing that scholars must not shy away from the development process, the Governor said the University system must challenge the tyranny of value-neutral knowledge in the process of ensuring a linkage between the town and the gown.
Fayemi who restated his resolve to return to Ekiti State University as a visiting lecturer added that Nigerians must take deliberate steps to reverse the tendency that often results in our academics abandoning scholarship and teaching once they go into politics, business and administration.
While lamenting the loss of best practices that once made Nigeria’s earlier Universities globally competitive , the academic cum politician said the country must “re-invent the University idea and re-build the foundations of our contemporary universities.
Proffering solutions to the decay in the Nigerian University system, Governor Fayemi linked the decay to inadequate financing of Universities; saying government alone cannot bear the absolute cost of higher education.
Fayemi called on individuals and organisations to show full commitment to the creation of “A more egalitarian society” through regular grants and endowments to Universities, saying that if these funds are properly invested in creating research-oriented Universities, Nigeria would in no time regain its repute of producing world-class scientists. He announced a donation of N5million to the Osun State University in demonstration of his campaign for a better support for the university system by well meaning Nigerians.
The Governor added that that the creation of private Universities is a welcome development but emphasised that their proprietors should not see these varsities as “investments” which are determined by market value but as a public trust.
While suggesting the creation of new technologically-friendly environment by investing in new technologies, the Governor said this would enable students to have access to materials and resources from any University in the world as well as help reduce deforestation for paper production since most research materials can now be accessed through the internet.
Fayemi also suggested a review of the University curriculum; adding that there is an urgent need for constant change and diversification of areas and focal points of teaching.
He explained that many courses which are still in the University curriculum are no longer relevant to the contemporary issues and challenges.
In his words: “Some of our Professors have been teaching the same thing for about three decades now. For instance, how many of our communications departments now offer courses in the latest cutting-edge ICTs and their relationship with modern society? Up till recent years, some Political Science departments still had “Political of Communist State in Eastern Europe” in their syllabus! What new technologies and new discoveries drive the curriculum in our Agricultural Science faculties?”.
Deputy Governor of Osun State, Otunba Grace Titlayo Laoye-Tomori, also suggested an exchange programme between Nigerian varsities and their counterparts abroad; saying that this would help improve learning of best practices.
Laoye-Tomori added that the future of the younger generation cannot be compromised hence the efforts of the government of Osun to revamp the education sector.
At the public lecture were the Deputy Governor of Osun State, Otunba Grace Titlayo Laoye-Tomori, Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Dr Adewale Omirin, members of the Executive Councils of Ekiti and Osun State, the Vice Chancellor of Ekiti State University, Professor Patrick Aina, academics and students.
Last modified: July 23, 2012