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Dr Anderson Uvie-Emegbo - Don’t Let your Schooling Interfere with your Education (1)
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Tuesday, 15 October 2013 21:13

Don’t Let your Schooling Interfere with your Education (1) Featured

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I am justifiably angry, my heart is heavy and I have a deeply troubling burden. Today is the anniversary of the start of my undergraduate journey through the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in South West, Nigeria. That journey took me all of 8 years, 5 months and 6 days for a 6 year medical course……losing over 2.5 years due to strikes (from members of the academic and non academic staff of the university and health workers) and communal clashes.

In about 2 weeks over 1,000 leading thinkers and doers would assemble for the much anticipated 2013 World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE) in Doha, Qatar. “WISE is an international, multi-sectoral platform for creative thinking, debate and purposeful action in order to build the future of education through innovation. WISE is a global reference in new approaches to education”.

Dr Anderson Uvie-Emegbo with some Nigerian university leaders at the 2012 WISEDoha Qatar: November 2012 - At WISE 2012 (L-R): Prof M. Hamisu Muhammad (Vice Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Nigeria), Dr Anderson Uvie-Emegbo of GAPS Academy and Prof. Is-haq Olanrewaju Oloyede (former Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Nigeria and former Chairman, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigeria). Pix Credits: Dr Anderson Uvie-Emegbo

As I prepare to attend the summit, I am deeply pained that while the world gathers to innovate and collaborate; students in public universities in Nigeria have been out of school for 4 months – due to a strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the umbrella body of lecturers. “Any nation that deprioritizes values-driven education is a breeding ground for economic scavengers and is destined for intellectual enslavement, ready to be relegated to the backwaters of economic stagnation and indeed global irrelevance”.

Nigeria may once again have one of the largest unofficial delegations at the summit. We cannot afford to turn this into a pleasure trip. There is so much catching up to do. This nation has not made the shortlist of any of the annual WISE Awards that recognizes and rewards excellence in innovation. We must do something!

We have deep challenges in our educational system in areas not limited to Access, Quality of learning, Retention of quality faculty and Funding. It is time to step in and be a part of the solution and not sit as an arm chair critic.

The 2013 Webometrics World University Rankings gave some Nigerian universities cause to cheer. At 8th position in Africa, my alma mater is the highest ranked school in Nigeria.  Ordinarily I should be proud but having taken a hard look at the data I am not - as it occupies the 1,113th position in the world. Let us not celebrate our national show of shame in a hurry. The world is watching…and laughing!

Webometrics Web Ranking of Universities - Africa 2013Screenshot of the Webometrics Web Ranking of Universities 2013 - Africa

Webometrics Ranking Web of Universities 2013Screenshot of the Webometrics Web Ranking of Universities 2013 - Nigeria

Perhaps the 3 most recognized global university rankings are the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), also known as the Shanghai Ranking, QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings powered by Thomson Reuters.

8 African universities are ranked by the ARWU in its top 500 - 7 from South Africa and 1 from Egypt.

In the QS World University Rankings only 12 universities in Africa made its top 800 list – 7 from South Africa and 5 from Egypt.  

QS World University Rankings 2013 - AfricaScreenshot of the QS World University Rankings 2013 - Africa

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings of 2012-2013 ranks only 4 schools in Africa (all from South Africa) within its top 400 list.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013 - Africa
Screenshot of The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-2013 - Africa

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings uses 13 performance indicators grouped into five areas:

  • Teaching: the learning environment (worth 30 per cent of the overall ranking score)
    “This examines the quality of the teaching and learning environment of each institution from both the student and the academic perspective”.
  • Research: volume, income and reputation (worth 30 per cent).
    “This criteria looks at a university's reputation for research excellence among its peers and its research income, scaled against staff numbers”.
  • Citations: research influence (worth 30 per cent)
    “This is the single most influential of the 13 indicators, and looks at the role of universities in spreading new knowledge and ideas. It summarizes whose research has stood out, has been picked up and built on by other scholars and, most importantly, has been shared around the global scholarly community to push further the boundaries of our collective understanding, irrespective of discipline”.
  • Industry income: innovation (worth 2.5 per cent)
    “This looks at a university's ability to help industry with innovations, inventions and consultancy. It suggests the extent to which businesses are willing to pay for research and a university's ability to attract funding in the competitive commercial marketplace - useful indicators of institutional quality”.
  • International outlook: staff, students and research (worth 7.5 per cent).
    “This category looks at diversity on campus and to what degree academics collaborate with international colleagues on research projects. It examines the ability of a university to attract undergraduates, postgraduates and the best faculty from all over the world”.

Excluded from its list are universities whose research output amounted to fewer than 200 a year.

Here are a few questions for our university leaders and administrators:

  • Does your university meet these criteria?
  • What S.M.A.R.T plan of action is your institution implementing to improve your position in any and all of these criteria?
  • Have you designed and started implementing a system that consistently develops in your students the skills gaps the world needs?
  • How is your institution using technology to create a learner-led, learner-focused and learner-centred curriculum that is relevant to the current needs of businesses and the society?
  • Does your training breed entrepreneurs?
  • How disruptive are the systems in your institution?
  • Where are the innovation hubs within your institution?
  • What one area of excellence is your institution renowned for or do you want to be known for in the next 2-5 years?
  • How relevant are the faculty you have?
  • How prepared is your institution for the disruption that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) bring?
  • Is the learning you provide mobile and social?

We need a radical approach to meet the managerial challenges businesses face. Educational systems must do more with less. We must channel resources into recruiting, retaining and incentivizing quality faculty. Performance of schools should be tied to the quality of their alumni in the workplace.

The focus should be on the level of skills and competencies gained in the course of study. We must strengthen teacher certification, training and professional development. We must come up with creative learning solutions that work for our environment.

Our curriculum MUST prepare ALL students for a life of productivity, intrapreneurship, ethical leadership, social responsibility, change, innovation, excellence, service delivery and lifelong learning. The system must turn out adequately skilled, “fit for purpose” graduates that organizations need…people who can hit the ground running.  Join me NOW

N.B: Please click here to read this article in the Punch Newspapers

Dr Anderson Uvie-Emegbo

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