Connect your degrees to the market, Falola tells Nigerian varsities

Post on 28 August 2018

A global icon in African Studies, Professor Toyin Falola, has charged universities in Nigeria to rethink their curricula, with a view to making their graduates competitive in the fourth industrial revolution driven by technology.  

Falola, who is the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanitiesat the University of Texas, Austin, USA, stated this while delivering the third Humanities Lecture of the Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, on Friday, August 24, 2018.

Held at the Mini Convocation Arena of the Institution, the lecture, convened by KWASU Distinguished Professor of Performing Arts, Professor Femi Osofisan, was with the theme “Humanism and the Future of the Humanities.”

According to the guest lecturer, “When they were building the University of Ibadan, it was within the interface of the second industrial revolution and the third industrial revolution, and they structured their curricula, the students they chose, and how they were writing about them in terms of second and the transition to the third industrial revolution.

“The consequence today is that, which is unfortunate, we are now using the syllabus of a different era to teach current generation of students during the fourth industrial revolution. It’s not going to work!”

He noted that theglobal economies and ideologies have shifted alongside the internal thinking and dynamics within the city, warning that the Nigerian universities must reflect the current realities in their curricula otherwise their products would not meet the demands of the 21st century market.

“We don’t connect our research to the city; we don’t connect our research to our own people… We cannot be centre of critical thinking without linkage to our own public and that knowledge enterprise must engage us in critical ways,” he stated.

Falola, who is also a Distinguished Teaching Professorat the University of Texas, said KWASU, as a new University, should be part of the epistemological revision and the transformational agenda of the continent, as well as the generation of the indigenous modes of knowing the epistemic sources for a better future.

He urged the Institution to carve a niche for itself through innovative and unique programmes that bridge the gaps between the town and gown, adding that the University can also become a preeminent centre of frontiers studies.

The guest lecturer stressed that KWASU has to be part of the alignment in relation to the entrepreneurship studies and turn it into a major tool of humanistic expansion, saying “creativity has no end and a new University like this should tap into that creativity.”

“We should rethink the discipline, we should not ignore this fourth industrial revolution, we should encourage the rise of small technologies with our people, and we should create a niche for ourselves on this campus, so that this niche would be connected to our city. It would be connected to youth aspiration and to the ideas of the next generation,” he stated.    

Advocating funding of education and research in the humanities, the don pointed out that the humanities hold practical benefits for development in Africa, as they provide the humanistic perspective to define development.

He added that humanities also provide vital perspectives for policy creation, economic development, and conflict resolution.

“I deduce without apologies that the fundamental way for the humanities to impact development in Africa is by humanizing development. In scholarly estimation, humanism is a cross-disciplinary perspective created by the ideas of philosophy, contexts of history, advocacy of literature, and the contribution of many religions and cultural values,” Falola explained.

“The initial conception of the humanities was tied to a bigger notion of humanism. I want to close by affirming and restoring those ties, discarding the narrower framing that capitalism and the markets apply. Indeed, promoting the ideals of “humanism” has become more urgent today than ever,” he submitted.

Earlier in his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of KWASU, Professor AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, had described the guest lecturer as “an African Star” whose works have shaped the world.

“I doubt if there is any other scholar of African Studies that is bigger than Professor Toyin Falola,” he remarked.

The Vice-Chancellor, while thanking the guest lecturer for honouring the University’s invitation, said the lecture was another historic event in the life of the Institution.