How sokoto varsity tackles insecurity with education

EDUCATION-textIssues around human security are becoming more quavering, especially as terrorism activities are getting more pronounced. And to raise the discourse on human security and proffer solution where Nigeria is faced with diverse forms of violent activities, Sokoto State University (SSU) decided to pick human security and innovative education as key variables for the theme of its first International Conference on Education, ‘Human Security and the challenges of innovative education.’

Delivering the keynote speech at the opening of the conference recently, Professor Peter Okebukola said the seven dimensions of human security are assured through education, especially when it is innovative. According to the former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, (NUC) education guarantees, indeed bolsters health security; economic security through skills development and employment; environmental security through environmental education and stimulation to take action to protect the environment; personal security; community security; and food security through training of farmers, opportunity for mechanisation and deployment of research for improved yield and varieties.

After giving statistics of enrolment and retention in primary and secondary schools across the country, even comparing the figures with some countries within the African continent, Okebukola, who observed that some of the northern states, particularly those in the North West, have a much higher gender gap in primary school enrolment, said a number of factors militate against enrolment, retention and achievement at the basic education level. Prominent among these, he said, are socio-cultural practices, misinterpretation of religious tenets, poverty and unfriendly school environment.

He emphasized the timeliness of the conference, noting that at no time is the relevance of innovative higher education to Nigeria’s economic survival and national development more critical than now, especially during the present period of dwindling economic fortunes occasioned by slump in oil prices in international markets.

“The Nigerian university system is well architectured to unleash the maze of research and development activities in its archive in our country’s quest for economic diversification.

“This is the time to cull and leverage the abundance of strong intellectual and scientific knowledge that resides in the Nigerian higher education system to help government to, of necessity, diversify the economy. Nigeria’s development is the problem of Nigerians.

“No matter how much foreign aid and loans greet us, the economic security of our nation is and will remain our residual responsibility. The aphorism that, a sympathiser cannot grieve more than the bereaved, is apropos in our developmental endeavour as a nation.”

Localising its presentation to Sokoto State, he said that to counter radicalisation which leads to extreme violence, the Faculty of Education working with the Faculty of Science should develop anti-radicalisation programmes and programmes for rehabilitating persons who are returnees from radical camps.

According to him, these programmes should be implemented on social media and other channels through which persons are recruited for insurgency mission.

He also suggested the development and implementation of a literacy programme to ensure that all persons living in Sokoto State are literate in addition to working with the relevant agencies in the state to reduce adult illiteracy rate by half of its present value in the next 10 years.

Okebukola also said one way forward in checking insecurity is setting up a research and development unit under the Vice Chancellor’s Office to periodically conduct situation analysis of threats to human security and propose innovative education and other programmes to tackle identified threats.

Earlier, the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said that Nigeria’s quest for development would not be complete without paying attention to education because a productive, functional and pragmatic education sector paves way for scientific development, technological advancement and, by extension, economic growth and social rejuvenation.

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal

For him, the choice of the theme was apt because ‘Human Security and the Challenge of Innovative Education’ sends a bright ray of hope and positive signal that the Sokoto State University is prepared for emerging educational challenges as they relate to the quality of education and the plight of the stakeholders in the sector.

In the lead paper delivered by Professor Yusef Waghid, a distinguished scholar from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, whose treatise was around African philosophy of education, said Africans cannot always run to the Greeks when at crossroads philosophically. He however argued that African philosophy is unique. Alluding to the theme of the conference, Waghid said that human being is the link between security and education. He also noted that there is no way education would be talked about without what human beings do and their daily activities, stating that justice is the most important word in the quest for security adding that poverty must be eradicated because it is about justice.

He however called for a deliberate attempt to rebuke the stereotypes about Africans by players outside the continent.
The Acting Dean, Faculty of Education, Sokoto State University, Dr. Saheed Ahmed Rufai, said the conference was to let the world know that the university and faculty are not oblivious of its roles as platforms for interaction for scholars and researchers.

“So, it is about contributing to the scholarship of teaching, education and proffering solutions to the challenges around. Unless you attend to the concerns of the community, you are irrelevant.”

Rufai stated that the theme was picked to provide insight into issues of security because security is often restricted to warfare. “But human security concerns all walks of life. So, we felt the need to formulate educational principles that could be translated into practicable educational blueprint in proffering solutions to challenges faced in different sectors.”

He promised that though the conference was principally about promoting scholarship, it would not end up as just a talkshop as efforts would be make to ensure that the attention of policy makers is drawn to the fallouts from the conference, thereby promoting a town and gown relationship for a better society.
“And I am glad that the governor has said that it is willing to partner with the faculty.”

He assured that the faculty is already looking at organising the second edition of the conference and hopes it will be an improvement on the first one, which attracted over 200 papers and 300 participants.

On why Nigerian universities are not rated well in spite of the huge scholars scattered all over campuses, Rufai said that though there are distinguished and brilliant scholars scattered in academic environments across Nigeria, there are many sub-standard lecturers who have no business in an academic environment.

“And this is part of what is under-developing the university system. The generation who taught us, those who were sub-standard were in the minority, because you find substandard people everywhere. But I tell my students that it is unfortunate that the generation that is teaching them, my generation, the majority of us are substandard.”

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