The Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ish’haq Oloyede has alerted that worldwide and Nigeria not exempt, the appetite, attraction and lure for university education is seriously on negative economy.
Oloyede said this at the University of Lagos during his speech at the event of the opening ceremony of the International Week of the university.
While speaking on the innovative ways to make Nigerian university education internationally competitive, he challenged Nigerian universities to adopt creativity and innovation to survive the downward spiral in the flavour for university education.
Oloyede noted that the competitive and information-replete world has made a lot of options available to people seeking education who can get more than enough through the internet and other infotech sources without actually enrolling in universities for such.
He reminded that the new age and its data economy keep shrinking the barriers that kept people away from knowledge and it has become commonplace for people who either dropped out of schools or never even had an opportunity to go through universities to come up with innovations that rule the world and many observers tend to ask what need there is for much formal education when the opportunity of self-education through information is at their beck.
The JAMB CEO encouraged Nigerian universities to also use the same information age advantage to tune up their activities, programmes and quality in order to remain gainfully competitive and relevant.
He praised the University of Lagos for the creation of an International Week that drew experts from around the world to expose Unilag to them and them to Unilag. He called that that was the proper direction to move in.
The gathering that had over 10 foreign universities and their stands at the exhibition that followed also showcased Unilag and its qualities.
It was an opportunity for students, teachers and managers to interact with foreign university administrators and experts and share experiences.
At the commencement of the event attended by hundreds of participants that filled to the brim, the university auditorium, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe had said the event was meant to enlighten and interact.
He coached that it was one of the projects and plans of the university to operate at world class and be linked to prominent universities worldwide for better performance.
He underscored the importance of exposure and stated that at the time the world is interlinked, no reasonable institution would operate in isolation and therefore Unilag as pioneer innovator targets to make itself known to the world and also the world known to it.
He stated that such exposure would help students and lecturers as well as administrators be conversant with the global trends today and enable them aspire to higher heights.
As the opening ceremony of the event ended, experts from Africa, China and Canada gathered at the Arthur Mbanefo Digital Centre of the university to further discuss the way forward for knowledge sharing among the continents and parts of the world through higher education.
Nineteen academics, media practitioners, administrator and technocrats from Nigeria, China and Canada shared ideas at this forum and suggested ways for better interaction and sharing of skills among them using higher education as tool.
At the Africa-China-Canada Conference on Higher Education there were presentations on how good and beneficial higher education and integration between the three parts of the world would be to strengthen quality.
The trilateral body held its third conference and the first African forum on “The Role of Higher Education in Multi-level Cooperation and the Chinese Government Belt and Road Initiative” and challenged all the parties to see education cooperation and exchange between them as a way forward.
University dons from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada represented by Prof. Darcy Marciniuk, Prof. Liu Jinghui from China, the Nigerian and Chinese Directors at the University of Lagos Confucius Institute, Profs. Chimdi Maduagwu and Wang Yongjing also made presentations calling for better cooperation and synergy.
At her presentation, Prof. Wang expatiated on the benefits and impacts of the Confucius institute to world education and enlightenment. She said the hundreds of such institutes worldwide and including two in Nigeria have done much in bringing to global knowledge Chinese culture, the people and education especially by imparting Chinese language and bridging the information gap between China and the other worlds.
She stressed that the Confucius Institute today operates policies in line with the Chinese fulcrum diplomatic policy of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which drives the country’s longing to embrace and help make the world a more prosperous and peaceful place.
Also speaking on one of the topics of discussion, the Chairman, Editorial Board of The Sun Newspaper, Dr. Robert Obioha called for balance and caution in the way the world views the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. He noted that it is not his duty to antagonise China especially in her relationship with African countries regarding loans, but urged Africa to be wise and do her best to get the benefit in relating with China.
Obioha argued that Nigeria and other African countries should never forget to take from China the lesson of their growth from oblivion and liberate themselves from further teaching by others and start teaching herself and charting her own course of advancement.
Also presenting a paper on China and the Rest of the World in the 21st Century, international journalist and Executive Director of the Afri-China Media Centre, Ikenna Emewu challenged the Nigerian government and other African countries to learn strategy and consistent good leadership from China.
Emewu himself who has studied in two Chinese universities and practiced journalism in the country called on Nigeria to tap into the experience of China’s economic growth and sustained tenacity over the years and liberate herself through sound economy.
He said that: “China had lived insular and incubated her seed for years, between 1978 and 1999 all within or behind its iron curtain as the media in the West dubbed it.
For 21 years it cooked her recipe. In 15 years after serving the world the delicacies, her arrival was announced. Between year 2000 as the 21st Century dawned and 2015, China was announced the world’s second largest economy.”
“As the new century, the 21st Century debuted, China pulled back the curtains threw open the window panels, unhinged the doors to let in air, visitors and light from the outer world.”
Emewu reminded that: “China’s poverty reduction example and feat has been a reference to the world with a record of lifting about 760m citizens out of poverty since her reforms. By the time the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) ended in 2015, China was the only country that met the target of country poverty reduction and contributed about 92% of global poverty eradication.
Its work in this direction is the instance the UN and World Bank cite for the rest of the world to follow.
“As Nigeria relates with China and unfortunately dubbed the world poverty capital, it would be wisdom that Nigeria takes a cue from China and liberate her citizens from abject poverty,” he advised.
He also noted that education remains the surest way to liberate the people from poverty and stated that presently, Nigeria has at least 6,500 students studying in Chinese universities and most of them under scholarship of the country.
Emewu recalled that after France, China has the largest pool of African students studying in their universities, about 57,000 of them.
He challenged Nigeria to do its best and lift her education standard to create an environment that would encourage other countries send their students to study in Nigerian universities.