Darah calls for book bank to empower nation’s youth
Darah canvassed the need to reinvent the educational philosophy of late Obafemi Awolowo to take the country from the educationally backward group and empower it to compete in the global knowledge economy.
Speaking yesterday at the opening of the yearly week-long Nigeria International Book Fair holding at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Darah said the wealth of a nation is not only measured by its natural resources and population but also the quality and quantum of its intellectual power through books.
According to him, the later are the transmitters of knowledge and civilisation from which development ensues.
Similarly, the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) has stressed that the best way to positively change the nation’s economy and people is through the application of science and technology.
Speaking yesterday at the National Science Summit being jointly organised by NAS and the Science Association of Nigeria (SAN) in Abuja, NAS President, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, said that science should be applied in all aspects of the nation’s economy.
“We must use science and technology to lift our nation from the dreg de la dredge of humanity to the crème de la crème of developed and advanced nations,” he said.
Noting that science, with specific requirements, could create an enabling environment for citizens, he added that “the main objective is to build a large, strong, diversified, sustainable and competitive economy that guarantees high standard of living and quality of life for the people.
“With strong political will, commitment and leadership with private sector, linkages, partnership, competitiveness among all stakeholders, investments by government, private sectors and development partners, popularisation of science and inculcation of science and technology culture, this objective will be achieved.”
In his keynote address, the Director General, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. Umar Bindir, also recommended that science and technology could effectively transform the nation’s economy.
Speaking on the conference theme, “African Youth Empowerment through Book for Sustainable National Development,” Darah argued that no nation could be considered rich until it had eliminated illiteracy – an area where Africa has failed till date – regretting that this was not the case centuries ago, when the continent was the cradle of civilisation.
“Africa did so well some centuries ago,” he said. “Why are we not doing well now? We need to reinvent ourselves.”
With only one per cent of books consumed in the country being produced locally, Darah noted that empowering young people to be self-reliant and responsible enough to contribute to the economy would be difficult because a country that does not produce what it consumes is already in slavery.
The implication, he observed, is that a large segment of young people was being denied its fundamental rights to a better life. And “by under-developing the book industry in Nigeria, government is guilty of breach of the fundamental rights of citizens to benefit from the spiritual and ethical values that books provide.”
He also spoke on budgeting for education, calling on the incoming government to truly embrace change in that direction by enlarging education budgets, stating that the present eight per cent negates the quest for an empowered youthful population capable of taking care of itself and being change agent.
Darah advised government to equally restructure its education policy by ensuring free education at all levels, just as more universities and polytechnics should be built to cater for the teeming school levers yearning for knowledge.
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