Posted by Theresa Moses, Ilorin | 23 October 2015 | 3,340 times
Lack of quality education has been identified as the cause of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
Speaking yesterday at the 31st Convocation Lecture of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), renowned Professor of African and African American Studies, Jacob K. Olupona, disclosed that one of the major observations of those running the Federal Government’s de-radicalisation programme for former Boko Haram members is that the terrorist group “clearly took advantage of the fact that these people lacked quality education.”
Prof. Olupona said in his lecture titled ‘Educational Reform and Nation Building in Nigeria’: “Whether it was simple religious knowledge and awareness or more nuanced logic and reasoning skills, the government workers have explained that once they manage to give former Boko Haram members these tools (albeit with a great amount of work against significant resistance), these young people are easily able to see the group for what it is. Allow me to read a direct quote from of one of the proramme’s particiants: ‘I shed tears when I realised I had ruined my life. All my younger brothers are married with children but I’m not married and have no child. So now I’m looking at how to start life afresh’.”
Prof. Olupona, who currently serves on the Adekunle Ajasin University Council, Ondo State, asked: “Would it not have been easier to provide this education beforehand so he would not ruin his life, so he could contribute to the nation, and so a group like Boko Harm would not gain as much support and wreak as much havoc as it has on our fellow citizens?”
Continuing, he said: “I would argue that we will pay for our children’s education now or we will pay for it later. While paying for it now may entail hard work and sacrifice, the price will be much higher if we allow the situation to escalate. Better to buy an ounce of prevention now than a pound of cure in the future.”
Prof. Olupona stressed that Nigeria’s public educational system is in dire need of reform, as is the country’s perspective on education.
“This is clearly a moment of great change in the Nigerian State, a time when true nation building can take place. With the election of President Buhari and his passing the recent milestone of 100 days in office, it is clear the electoral process and the political process have both undergone a great deal of change, and indeed are still changing. What I do hope to propose today is that a similar change takes place with respect to our understanding of the importance of education to our nation building enterprise,” he said.
Illustrating how educational reform can serve as an essential nation-building tool in Nigeria, he said: “When considering the type of educational reform that is necessary, it is important to remember that in Nigeria, access to a good education is a constitutional right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it. We must search for a new model focused on financial literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, and entrepreneurship, amongst the other skills that our growing economy demands.”
Professor Olupona, a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, also touched on entrepreneurship as a skill, noting that “private universities the world over are including entrepreneurship in their curricula.”
According to him, “In some ways this is the response to the crisis in liberal arts education, where graduates are taught how to think, but struggle with tangible skills directly applicable to their work environment. I believe that teaching entrepreneurship and cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit is necessary for Nigerian graduates if we are to continue with our economic transformation. Graduates should be able to translate the iniquitous ‘Nigerian hustle’ into productive development for our country.”
•Photo by Theresa Moses shows UNILORIN Chancellor, His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, CFR, Emir of Katsina, with Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abdulganiyu Ambali . . . yesterday at one of the activities marking the institution’s 31st Convocation.
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