Improved pay will boost teachers’ productivity, says Falola
Falola, an historian and professor of African Studies in an interview with reporters at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) also stressed the need to rebuild public institutions to rekindle people’s trust, in order to expand their capacity and improve quality.
The professor of history who is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas, Austin also blamed the problem of unemployment on the fact that our tertiary institutions are producing more students than the economy can cater for, especially in terms of monthly income.
He said, “The teachers are not well paid. Also, there is an urgent need to revive the public school system because many parents have lost trust in them, which is why they send their children to private schools.
“We should bear in mind that universities were fewer in the 50s, and as we expanded, the population grew and the missing link is what we call a diversified economy. So we are producing more students than the economy can cater for especially in terms of monthly income. So the first thing is to link university degrees to the informal sector, take the informal sector as constituent elements of those degrees so that people with initiative and entrepreneurial skills will be able to use that knowledge to expand on those small businesses that we think are meant for people who did not go to school, and we have to do that as soon as possible.
“We have to begin imparting those useful skills from the campus. Besides, we have to promote a knowledge economy. The fact that you go to UNILAG does not mean you cannot work anywhere in the world because knowledge economy is very mobile and you’re not just training them for Lagos, nor for Nigeria, you should be training students for the entire continent and for the world just as other countries have successfully done,” Falola noted.
The historian who also stated the significance of infusing Africanism in our education system said, “Nigerians have unparalleled exclusive knowledge but have refused to develop it. We should focus on areas where we can rank number one worldwide. Europeans created universities for us in the beginning and when they did, they took their own organisation and the disciplines from their students’ needs and imposed them on us because these universities did not grow with our indigenous knowledge system, if it did, we would be awarding Bachelor of Arts degrees in Kingship.
“In South Africa, they are now awarding BA in witchcraft because it is a knowledge system that grew with us. So we have to connect these universities to our own knowledge systems.“
On the issue of peculiarity in universities, he said institutions must have regional specialisation and focus.
“For instance, Usman Danfodiyo University can focus on Islam and modernity, because it is the seat of the emirate, UNILAG can create a niche in terms of maritime studies, urbanisation and migration studies, because everyday, thousands of people come to Lagos. They can also focus on how they have been successful in balancing the formal and informal sectors of the society” he added.
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