Showing posts with label universities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label universities. Show all posts

Thursday, February 24, 2011

President Goodluck Jonathan and the Diaspora Vice Chancellors

President Jonathan, the New Style of Academic Leadership by Aluko, Okogbaa and Farouk needs Bold, Full and Open Autonomy to control change.

Sir, the soon to come Academic Leadership approach to the new federal universities will enormously gain from an Executive order-type autonomy in order for it to fully evidence excellent practices, sustained outcomes and well defined changes in university educational system in Nigeria.

Sir, as an academic yourself, you have seen firsthand the lamentable nature of Nigerian higher institutions in spite of millions of money that have been poured into the system.

Sir, you will agree that in the last fifteen years the existing academic leadership in many of these higher institutions have had very little impact on the overall health of our universities, and this is partly because of some members of the leadership being all about self-interest rather focusing on matters of national interest.

Mr. President, as you rightly know, every great development started as an idea, as such to adequately tackle the many human and capital challenges the country currently face, you have looked beyond the old ways of ‘doing things’ in Nigeria. A great move indeed!

Sir, you have done this by taking a very bold and unpopular step which in the words of Mohammed farouk, the new Vice Chancellor of the federal University in Kashere, Gombe, include bringing in those who “will apply their knowledge, skills, expertise, and experiences” to better the nation.

Sir, I can assure you that compared to what exist currently, Bolaji Aluko of Howard University in Washington Dc; O. Geoffrey Okogbaa of the University of South Florida, and Mohammed K. Farouk of the Florida International University will come in with a collective culture in academic leadership and embark on your vision in a way that is marked with aggressive drive and a spirit of mobilization.

But the question Sir, is under what platform and mantle of leadership will they do their respective work? Because for them to bring in meaningful, fundamental and important progressive changes to higher education, they must be protected against the expectations and attitudes of the outmoded mindset that are pervasive within the Nigerian University education system.

There is no attempt here to disparage the work of the officials of the National Universities Commission as they try to function within the present institutional environment that surrounds them in a taxing society like Nigeria.

Mr. President, if you want these new appointees to turn around higher institutional learning in our society; beginning with the ones they will be leading, the long standing academic machinery will need to be ready for fresh, state of the art and cutting-edge approach to university management.Sir, you will agree with me that there could be both overt and covert resistance from the systems currently in place, and this is expected being the way life is.

Sir, I can assure you these Diaspora appointees will strategically, stubbornly, drastically and professionally push against unstable academic environments, unhealthy facilities, and non-functional library system. But again they will need your direct help!

Sir, through a special executive order your new appointees will have more freedom to erect and implement the type of higher learning in your shared vision with them.

The special autonomy which could come in form of writing and full understanding by all stakeholders will in no way diminish the powers, and functions already being exercised by those in charge of academic systems.

It is important that many of us in academic and administrative leadership in the Diaspora salute the Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Julius Okojie who has continuously worked to raise the academic standards of universities in spite of the societal challenges in Nigeria. Many of us applaud him for his ongoing collaborative and cooperative spirit with the new VCs as they embark on their respective works.

With a greater level of independence, the new VCs will have the chance and control to assist in erecting new machinery in academic leadership that is at par with the 21st century educational system.

If given a special protection from how things are done currently, it is very likely that the learning and teaching environment in their respective pioneering institutions will by every reasonable way shut out and shut down many Nigerian university education problems.

These new appointees will set a far reaching criteria that will steadily enhance faculty/staff quality and development in various areas not limited to mandated completion of trainings in the areas of Sexual Harassment prevention, employment discrimination prevention and student education privacy.

The new Diasporan VCs, using their experiences and highly integrated perspectives will amplify an environment for collaboration with faculty and staff, thereby reducing any room for outdated equipment/laboratories and the almost lifeless infrastructures that currently exist.

They will fully ensure that quality delivery systems and benchmarks for teaching and working are current throughout in their respective universities as that is the only way to enhance a stable learning environment.

They will respectively exert efforts and time on showcasing the new federal universities by providing leadership and a well-defined path to corporate funding, applied research, laboratory development, equitable equipment, modern libraries, and they will promote learner-centered education.

They will aggressively create learning and teaching environments and see to the faculty/staff welfare, and they will create institutional environment that could be unattractive to the never-ending strikes, and the problems of cultism.

They will provide leadership in regards to making sure that each of the new universities has active and workable websites. They will bring in cutting-edge research that focus on solving our local and other home-grown problems.

They will attract lectures of international standards and proactively provide competent instructional technologies, thereby helping to achieve online, blended, and hybrid education which will connect well with face-to-face instructions.

They will aggressively provide leadership in the area of quality assurance in regards to institutional effectiveness, and work aggressively to efficiently and strategically stabilize electrical Power in their respective universities.

They will ensure quality production and establishment of journals, publications and lectures in their respective universities to enhance applied and scientific research.

They will provide strategic ways to protect administrators, faculty and staff from governmental abuse as it relates to the long standing manner of grossly dismissing and firing lecturers, staff, or even Vice-chancellors without any mark of courtesy and due process.

They will provide university environments and facilities which are attractive to international students, and see that an environment exists for functional basic medical and mental health care services.

They will help provide stress and physical examinations and recreational facilities within the new universities as well as provide student activity centers that meet international standards.

They will make sure that university websites are current and updated in order to allow for quick access to our current global economy.
They will be able to easily collaborate with the continental African universities and other institutions in order to build new cultures within our public institutions and private economies.

They will institute functional and quality leadership programs for public, government and corporate officials, thereby shrinking the urge for officials to travel to ‘Oyibo’ lands or European-American lands for ‘course’.

They should be allowed to create security or police type systems in order to fully respond to safety issues as they relate to the problems of strikes, kidnapping and cultism.

They will use their Diaspora experiences to secure external grants which could provide stipends for faculty to develop indigenous research and these monies could help to facilitate faculty collaborations with students for scholarly and applied projects.

They will help attract highly successful but settled diasporan Nigerians who are likely to appear at home and contribute to lectures, journals, books, and indigenous based studies which are akin to the needs of our systems and people.

They will create openings for Nigerian graduates to alternative vocations which could push them towards private corporations, thereby reducing the dependency on white-collar or government office jobs.

In the same vein they will work on harnessing business and entrepreneurial opportunities for their respective graduates.
They will provide leadership that will help create social networks through digital communication for our students thereby providing affordable access to our cyber world.

Mr. President, I would like to believe that your objective is to shape the educational history and culture in Nigeria, but the right person in the right place at the right time is all that is needed to bring in best practices across our higher institutions.

Please be assured that many of us in the Diaspora are fully confident that each of your new appointees will usher in the type of academic leadership and management style our society greatly deserves at this time. Goodluck to you Sir!

~ By John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D., DABPS; FACFE; is a Licensed Clinical/Forensic Psychologist; Diplomate of American Board of Psychological Specialties; Fellow of American College of Forensic Examiners (For Psy); Former Interim Associate Dean and an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Broward College - North Campus, Florida.

Hot Topic on Education: We don’t need new varsities – Reps

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nigeria: Where they do not read books

Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with over 150 million people of different ethnic groups of which the majorities are Hausas, Igbos and Yorubas.

Nigeria: Where they do not read books

Do you know that more Nigerians in Nigeria are no longer excited about reading and even writing?

Do you know that majority of the members of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) do not buy or read the books written by fellow members?

Do you know that majority of the Nigerian publishers of magazines do not buy or read the magazines published by other Nigerian publishers?

Do you know that none of the authors who won the much coveted Nigeria LNG Prize or other local prizes has become bestselling authors in Nigeria?

Do you know that Nigerians spend millions of dollars monthly on sms and most of the SMS/TXT messages are unprofitable gossip?

Do you know that poverty is not the cause of poor reading culture in Nigeria but intellectual illiteracy and intellectual hypocrisy?

Do you know that majority of youths in Nigeria do not know who is Ben Okri, the youngest winner of the Booker Prize in in 1991 at 32?

Ben Okri

I have seen the book gathering dust abandoned in-between files and other items on the table. The book has not been read for months. I have read my own copy immediately the author gave it to me and I reviewed it on Bookalleria, a literary blog. Bookalleria is one of the few Nigerian literary websites owned by writers who love books, but most of the Nigerian writers hardly visit them. They would rather visit the social gossip blogs or frequent their Facebook that does not have any feature for their writings. Majority of Nigerian writers should be blogging and not wasting quality time posting tissues of the issues of their minutiae on Facebook.

Nigerians now prefer to browse more on the Internet.

Blogging is another form of writing and sharpening the craft of writing as the blog offers more space to express your feeling, thoughts and share them with the rest of the world. Molara Wood, Myne White and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are Nigerian writers with active blogs and a visit to any of these blogs is worth it, because they are filled with refreshing prose, poetry and drama written and posted by the authors and with interactive conversations with their readers. Unfortunately millions of Nigerians on Facebook and Twitter are ignorant of these blogs and have been missing the most original writings of these writers.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Over 800, 000 copies of the books of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have been sold so far and translated into many languages, but less than 50, 000 copies of the bestselling books have been sold in her native Nigeria the most populous country in Africa with a population of over 150 million and over 20 million are graduates of tertiary institutions. Why have these millions failed to read the books of one of the most bestselling Nigerian writers? Intellectual laziness is common in Nigeria.

Majority of Nigerians do more talking than reading books.

Majority of the literate population only read the compulsory textbooks required to pass their compulsory examinations to acquire the paper qualifications they need to get their dream jobs. After getting these qualifications, they abandon their textbooks and rush into the rat race to catch up with the Joneses of their society.

The next publications they read are the daily newspapers, social gossip magazines and porn magazines. Then they go on Facebook to post the tidbits of their daily routines of their perishable pursuits. They spend hours chatting on the phone, gossiping and spreading rumours on the street, at home and in the workplace.

Many Nigerians love reading newspapers and society magazines and they are often seen crowding news vendors on the street.

Nigerians spend billions of naira on phone calls and text messages, so they cannot claim that they cannot afford to buy the few books written and published by Nigerian authors.

The increasing population of illiterates in Nigeria is caused the intellectual laziness of the majority who do not read books. Because how can people become literate when they hate to read and if they do not read, how can they write? So, the population of those who cannot read and write keeps on increasing daily. And how can they learn when they do not read? How much will they learn from sharing the badly written updates on their walls on Facebook or viewing TV comedies, reality shows or music videos that do not teach them how to read or write, but programmed to entertain more than to educate.

Nigerian pupils and students read for their studies and to pass examinations for the qualifications they need to get their dream jobs and to catch up with the Joneses in their rat race.

We are now embarrassed by appalling reports of mass failures recorded in the secondary school examinations and cases of graduates of tertiary schools who cannot write essays and are not better than graduates of high schools. One scholar said most of the universities are glorified secondary schools.

How can we revive the reading culture in Nigeria?

I remember the late 1970s and 1980s when hundreds of thousands of young and old people discussed and shared thrilling stories from the novels in the popular Macmillan’s Pacesetter series, Longman Drumbeat and Heinemann African Writers series.

“There were no GSM phones then,” said a friend.
“Mobile phones have not stopped American and Europeans from buying and reading over 600, 000 copies of the Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun written by our own Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,” I said.

I also mentioned that millions of copies of the phenomenal Harry Potter novels of J. K. Rowling have been sold in developed countries where mobile phones and social network sites are not excuses for not reading books!

“Millions of Nigerians copy Western haute couture, music and surfing social network sites, but fail to copy their reading culture,” I said.
My friend was speechless.

Using computers should not stop Nigerians from reading books.

The intellectual disorientation of our youths can be corrected by using the same media of mobile phones and social network sites to make them change their negative attitude to reading. We can use hype to motivate and stimulate their intellectual traits and gradually they will appreciate reading as they see the awesome benefits of a vibrant reading culture.

If over 13, 000 copies of the novels of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie can be sold in Nigeria, and then more thousands can be sold when others are motivated and stimulated to join those who are enjoying the passion of reading her books and they will soon be adding more books on their reading list.

Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books.
~ Harper Lee, author of "To Kill A Mockingbird" on May 7, 2006

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Your GPA Does not Determine Your Brilliance

Your GPA does not determine your brilliance

Every Nigerian knows that it is not easy to go to a federal or state University in Nigeria.

This topic just popped into my brain just because a couple of days ago, the degree results were released, those who passed, passed, and those who failed, failed. Those who graduated with a first class rejoiced, while those who didn’t do too well sulked…!

The thing here is that the fact that you made a 4.95 GPA doesn’t mean that you’re the most brainiest person in the school environment…it simply means that you simply have the greater ability of cramming what you read and giving it back to the lecturer during the examinations instead of reading to your understanding.

I think that I have come to realize that the reason why most students in “Nigeria” graduate with a lower grade other than the first class thingy is not because they don’t know how to read or cram! Let’s be honest with ourselves here, most of us bribed our way through the University. While others toiled day and night, yet they come out with nothing. And you begin to ask yourself why???

One of my lecturers who was among those that compiled the final year results complained that there was a case of mass failure in the last graduating set. He said among thousands of students, none graduated with a first class from the department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages! And those who managed to graduate with a second class upper narrowly escaped graduating with a second class lower grade! I was dumbfounded because I was cock sure that we had some real brilliant students in that department. My lecturer now asked a question that I think some of us have an answer to….he said, “is the problem with the lecturers or the students?”

I actually did think that the problem was with the lecturer because most of them come to class, speak a lot of jargons and leave, expecting a student with no prior knowledge of the course to actually grab what he/she is saying. And when you end up asking questions, they bark at you as if you don’t have a right to ask a question on something you obviously do not understand.

Let’s be honest here, that fact that BOY A graduates with a whooping first class doesn’t mean that he is better than BOY B who graduated with a third class or a pass!
I know of a guy who graduated with a clean first class, but guess what? He doesn’t know how to write an informal letter!!! Will you now tell me that he is better than his neighbor who graduated with a pass who knows all the elements of grammar both in the spoken and written form?

In Nigeria, we place so much importance on GPs that we actually fail to see what a youth has to offer to his country! We fail to give them the opportunity to display those thoughts and ideas that they have been nursing since their childhood years…rather we judge them based on a piece of paper (which obviously doesn’t end up determining one’s level of success in life).

Take a good look at Wole Soyinka! one of Nigeria’s finest literary writers. What did he graduate with when he was in the University of Ibadan, Oyo State? A THIRD CLASS! Yes! But he left the shores of Nigeria to study abroad and he came back with a first class certificate. Why? Their learning system is much more favorable than ours.
It’s no longer news that students bribe their way through to first class by having amorous relationship with their lecturers, both male and female while others simply pay their way through the university. At the end of 4 or 5 years, these students graduate with first class and second class upper honors while those who spent endless hours in the library, foregoing their social lives and burnt the midnight oil end up with the second class or pass! Yet they call it an educational system. At the end of their stay, the school offers them a readymade position in the departments or faculties to become lecturers while those who graduated with a lower degree end up on the streets hustling for their lives.

Then you begin to wonder how they want to reform or rebrand the educational system of the country.

Your GPA doesn’t determine your brilliance!
Feel free to prove me otherwise.

~ By Queen "Cynosure" Ebong

Thursday, July 2, 2009

MacArthur Foundation Grants $7.6 Million To 9 Universities in 7 Countries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; CONTACT: Amy Martin, 202-745-5118


Chicago, IL, June 30, 2009 – Supporting rigorous professional training for future leaders in the field of sustainable development, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today grants totaling $7.6 million to nine universities in seven countries to establish new Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) programs.

The Foundation has committed $15 million to seed the creation of such programs at up to 15 universities worldwide over the next three years. With MacArthur support, Columbia University is creating the first MDP Program, which will launch this fall.

MDP programs are designed to provide graduate students with training beyond the typical focus on classroom study of economics and management found in most development studies. The program’s core curriculum combines classroom study in a range of disciplines, including agriculture, policy, health, engineering, management, environmental science, education, and nutrition with field training experiences.

“Through our work around the globe, we at MacArthur understand that poverty, population, health, conservation, and human rights are all interconnected, requiring sustained and comprehensive interventions,” said Foundation President Jonathan Fanton. “These new programs are a model for training the next generation of these critically needed professionals.”

A Global Master’s in Development Practice Secretariat, supported by MacArthur and based at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, will help manage the MDP network of universities, develop an open-source repository for the MDP curriculum and other teaching materials, and will offer an online, Global Classroom on sustainable development for students worldwide.

The universities that will receive funding to establish the nine MDP programs are:

· Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia) will emphasize the health and governance-related aspects of sustainable development through its work with partners that include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CARE and the Carter Center.

· The Energy Resources Institute University (New Delhi, India) will emphasize energy and climate sciences, building on its contributions to scientific and policy research in energy, environment, and sustainable development.

· James Cook University (Cairns and Townsville, Australia) will offer coursework at its two campuses and field training in the Philippines and Indonesia, focusing on the challenges to sustainable development and governance in tropical island nations in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

· Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland) will integrate their teaching in international development and also partner with the National University of Rwanda to offer field training and coursework in conservation and sustainable development.

· Tsinghua University (Beijing, China) will build on its English-language degrees and Master’s programs in international development and public administration to focus on development models for China.

· University of Cheikh Anta Diop (Dakar, Senegal) will focus on current development challenges facing Africa by integrating health, social and natural sciences, engineering, information technology, and management. It will also serve as a MDP program hub for French-speaking West African nations.

· University of Botswana (Gaborone, Botswana) will create a modular program designed for working professionals. Rigorous independent study will be complemented by two to three weeks of on campus training each semester. University of Botswana will partner with University of Florida to offer field training experiences in Botswana.

· University of Florida (Gainesville, Fla.) will implement a program that includes the core curriculum, building on University of Florida’s expertise in conservation and sustainable development, especially in Latin America. The program also incorporates faculty and student exchanges and a field-training program in Botswana, in partnership with University of Botswana.

· University of Ibadan (Ibadan, Nigeria) will build on existing graduate programs in health, science, and natural resources with the long-term goal of creating a Centre for Development Studies. It will also serve as a MDP program hub for English-speaking West African nations.

The universities are expected to produce 250 graduates with a Master’s in Development Practice degree by 2012, with a total of 750 students enrolled. They were selected based on five criteria, including support from top university leadership, excellent infrastructure and academic programs, and the ability to serve as regional hub; geographic representation among students and exceptional faculty across the four core competencies of the natural, health, and social sciences and management; and a timeline and business plan for financial sustainability when funding ends in three years. In 2010, MacArthur will fund up to five additional universities to create additional MDP programs.

The creation of the Master’s in Development Practice Program was a key recommendation of the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice, whose report was released in October 2008. Established in 2007, the year-long Commission was co-chaired by John McArthur, Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Promise, and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and comprised of 20 top thinkers in the field of sustainable development from around the world.

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is changing children and society. More information is available at


Amy Martin

Managing Supervisor

GYMR Public Relations, LLC

1825 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Ste. 300

Washington, DC 20009

P: (202) 745-5118