Don wants varsities to run combined courses in culture, science

A Professor of History, Toyin Folola, has asked for the introduction of a combined honours programme in culture, science, and economics leading to the award of degree certificates in Nigerian universities.

Falola,  the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair at the University of Texas at Austin, gave the recommendation on Monday at the University of Lagos Akoka, where he delivered the 54th Convocation lecture titled “Decolonising African Higher Education for Transformational Development.”

He said there was a need to change the educational system handed to Africans by the colonial authorities which was designed to advance the political and economic objectives of the Europeans.

He noted that combining such honours will equip graduates of this discipline with the needed cultural information that will engender transformational development.

Falola said, “In addition, an interdisciplinary combined honours programme in culture, science, and economics would generally strengthen efforts towards decolonisation of African universities.

“This will involve an approach to education that allows students to explore and integrate knowledge from the academic disciplines of culture, science, and economics.

“There are other areas where combined honours are necessary so as to multiply skills and talents suitable to changing job markets. The interdisciplinary honours programme will feature a series of fundamental courses that establish a strong basis in each of these fields.

“Moreover, students would have the freedom to select optional courses based on their interests in culture, science, and economics.”

In his other submission. Falola recommended the use of indigenous languages to teach and interact among lecturers and students, irrespective of their courses of study in the universities saying that such ” efforts would complement the educational efforts aimed at decolonising  African’s higher education.”

He also urged the management of UNILAG to encourage its students to engage “in various social activities to promote interconnection and the exchange of ideas among students”

Earlier, in her welcome address, the vice-chancellor of UNILAG, Prof Folasade Ogunsola, noted that the lecture was aimed to bring into focus how  Nigerian universities can move away from colonial orientation and perception to bring about desired socio-political and economic transformation, particularly for Nigeria and its people.

“Our current educational system modelled on colonial constructs has not been able to drive the all-around development, revolutionary ideas, and industries that we need despite our population, heterogeneity and other positive demographic factors.

“Facts have also shown that our deficit in these critical areas isn’t due to a lack of intellect or human capacities. What we know is that we constantly seek validation from our colonial past.

“There is clearly still a lack of confidence in who we are! It does not appear that being African is enough. How do we become enough?  There is already a change, we are beginning to ask the relevant questions and recognize that if we are to fully develop and be unique not copycats, we must embrace who we are so we can make the right choices on what parts of other cultures we will adopt.

“We must rediscover our purpose, trace our heritage, reorientate our minds and develop new policies that embrace our peculiarities and unique flavour,” she stated.

The  54th Convocation Ceremonies commenced last Friday, January 13, 2023, with a special Jumaat service at the University Central Mosque.

At the Convocation press conference, last Wednesday, Ogunsola stated that the university would be graduating a total of 17,464 students out of which 10,578 would receive first degrees and 6,886; postgraduate.

The university will also produce 379 first-class graduates at the convocation.

The overall best-graduating student who was also the best-graduating student in Science was David Akanmu from the Faculty of Engineering, with a perfect score of 5.00, while Ibrahim Quadri of the Faculty of Management Sciences with a CGPA of 4.94 was the best-graduating student in Humanities.

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