June 18, 2009

Quality Education: It’s time to get our priorities right — Oyedepo

By Emmanuel Edukugho
African nations including Nigeria can never realise their visions of economic greatness and national transformation so long as they neglect quality education.
Dr. David Oyedepo, Chancellor of Covenant University, Ota, has warned on the danger of not giving priority to education, which eventually has caused economic rot.

At a World Press Conference in which he delivered state of the University Address as part of the 4th Convocation programme, he stated that education has proved to be the vehicle for national transformation in human history and no nation ever rises above her investment in education.

He equated education with civilization and that when Africans lost their place in education, they  invariably lost their place in civilization.

“Therefore quality education is a fundamental requirement for national transformation. History has it that: Black people built he first civilization; Black people built the pyramid of Egypt; Black people were the first to develop Architecture, Geometry and Astrology; Great Historians, Artists and Mathematicians went to Egypt for their education from 2900BC to 600BC.”

Oyedepo reiterated that “to be intellectually bankrupt is to be socially, economically and politically bankrupt.”

He recalled a former Prime Minister of one European country who was once asked: how did your nation come out of economic rot? He answered education! Education!! And more Education!!!

“Education has been the foundation for true and enduring development. It is time for the nations of Africa to re-order their priorities.”

The Covenant University Chancellor explained that students do not fail in school just because they lack the required competence for academic excellence, but mostly because they have wrong priorities.

“For instance; sleeping when he should be in class, playing games when he should be in the library, going to parties when he should be preparing for exams.”

He added: “In the same vein, nations fail because of wrong priorities. Our national budgets in most African nations betray our purported Vision, Dreams, Goals and Aspirations.”

It was noted that out of the first top 200 universities in the world, only one is in Africa. But out of the first 10 Universities in the world, 8 are in USA and 2 in Britain. Out of the first 200, 129 are in the USA alone.

“The above data clearly explains the fact that world powers are made of intellectual property.

But the investment of the American nation and other developed nations in education validates their places in civilization. Developed nations are products of qualitative investment in education. They got their priorities right. It’s high time we got our priorities right in Africa,” Oyedepo declared.

He pointed to the 4th Convocation of the University – “ The Release of Eagles 2009,” which marks out in our developmental history, a season when the university marks another season of harvest as the vision which birthed the university – “raising a new generation of leaders” is actualised. “It also marks the fulfillment of our commitment to the Nigerian nation, African Continent and the Global World at large.”

Since the release of first, second and third sets of graduates, reports from the field where the graduates are currently engaged have been “quite inspiring and validating.”

He drew attention to the uniqueness of the 4th convocation in many ways as, “this is the first time we will be graduating students from all the programmes we run, and in addition, the very first set of international students will be part of this year’s convocation ceremony”.

According to him, this 4th convocation like the previous ones “validates our goal of raising a platform for qualitative education, where total graduates are packaged along the defining parameters of our vision to go out to make a difference to their world.”

It was disclosed that the total student population for the 2008/2009 academic session is 6,630, with 344 academic staff and 410 non-teaching staff. There is a stable academic calendar, a well-stocked library, state-of-the-art laboratories and an excellent road network.

“Our mandate is to pioneer excellence in teaching, research, community relations and scholarship. We have an ultra modern campus, fully residential for both staff and students, creating a special ambience of living and learning. It is quite enabling and conducive for international faculty and students.”

The Total Man Concept (TMC) and Entrepreneurial Development Studies (EDS) driven curricula of the university imbibed in the students practical life skills and an entrepreneurial spirit acknowledged in the labour market.

The vital role which science and technology play in the development of any society is recognised with expansion programmes in engineering and science. There are five departments – Civil Engineering, Chemical, Electrical and Information Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Petroleum Engineering – each housed in its own building.

About N1.2 billion spent in the procurement of laboratory equipment during the session. A grant of N50 million was injected into the take-off of the new Covenant University Centre for Research and Development (CUCERD) which has come into existence since October 2008.

“The centre co-ordinates the initiation and evaluation of the University Research Projects. It also serves as a platform to oversee the Technical Quality of Research Proposals for University sponsorship and to forge research partnership and linkage with government agencies, industries and other Research Institutes.”

There had been conferences/symposium to further research efforts, research products in exhibition with a total of about 35 products on display throughout this convocation period.

He touched variously on Areas of Strength, Teaching Quality, Emerging Research Areas, Linkages and Partnerships, University, Public Lectures/Parleys, state of ICT in Covenant University, Accreditation status of Approved Academic Programmes, Alumni Association and Current Issues of Global Interest including The Way Forward for Africa, and the Future paths.

The University is graduating a total of 1,096 students with 80 in first class, 565 in second class upper, 415 in second class lower and 36 in third class.

For postgraduate programmes, there are 19 M.Sc graduates and 3 doctoral graduates.
Reiterating that “we are in a revolution and this will be reflected in teaching, research and in community work,” he added, “we are committed to producing into our labour force, active agents of change whose appearance will lead to new demonstration of integrity, probity, assiduity and sustained growth.”

Oyedepo assured that “this University in the next few years certainly before its tenth anniversary will have become a major centre of excellence in the world and a pride to the nation and an institution that the entire world will be proud to be associated with.”