By Ikechukwu Odu
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Prof. Charles Arizechukwu Igwe, yesterday, bemoaned the poor state of educational development on African continent.
The VC said the various political, economic and socio-religious crises as being witnessed in most African countries today had robbed-off negatively on educational development as attention is given to crises management instead of educational development.
Mr Vice Chancellor made the statement at the Princess Alexandra Auditorium, PAA, UNN, during the 1st Faculty of Arts Alumni Homecoming and Re-union, where he was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Pat Uche Okpoko.
He said “Indeed, it is an unfortunate reality that educational development, in the real sense of it, is on the reverse gear on the African Continent. African countries, especially our own dear Nigeria, are bedevilled by political, economic, social, religious and educational under-development. The ugly spectacle is before us, but we are
filled with confidence and hope that the various associations of the alumni will surely lead the country out of the woods.”
The VC who lauded the Faculty of Arts, UNN, for its milestone achievements in positive transformation of humans, said that the faculty is in the front pew in the process of developing manpower beyond the borders of Nigeria, adding that the feats are in accordance with the vision of the founding fathers of the university in her struggle to restore the dignity of man.
He said the Faculty has become a model, not only in periodic organisation of conferences and public lectures, but also in terms of the organisational structure and current ICT-driven academic programmes, stating that it is poised to emancipate the black race from the shackless of cultural, intellectual, economic and socio-political bondages.
In his address, the Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Nnanyelugo Okoro said, the alumni lecture has given the faculty alumni a platform to mull measures towards repositioning the university to be globally-competitive.
He also said “Globally, universities are driven by highly skilled human resources that are a function of creativity in arts and humanities. I have no doubt that our faculty has made giant strides in producing high-flying individuals worthy of emulation and celebration.
“As we celebrate each and everyone of us today, may I remind us that it is part of our social responsibility to feed the geese that lay the golden eggs.
“In the past few years, the number of students and staff members has increased overwhelmingly. The result is that our basic infrastructures are over tasked. In fact, the faculty lecture theatre can no longer take all our 100 level students taking faculty-wide courses. To this end, we urgently need a faculty lecture theatre with office accommodation to cater for our teeming new members of staff who now use cars as offices.
“Rainy season has become nightmarish for both staff and students of the faculty. The roofs of our faculty leak profusely such that after each bout of rain, the floors of the complex become waterlogged. We need urgent interventions in the re-roofing of the complex to forestall further depreciation of the edifice to the point of possible collapse. This is to enhance productivity of both staff and students of the faculty,” Okoro appealed.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Prof. Florence Orabueze, charged the alumni not to turn blind eyes to the infrastructural decay in the faculty, calling on them to make donations for research and training of faculty members and to give the students and staff the opportunity to attend international conferences and seminars.
She also called on them to provide platforms for networking of staff and students of the institution, and offer them linkages that would improve their knowledge, experiences, skills and potentials.
While delivering the faculty lecture entitled ‘Why Not Scrap the Arts’ Prof. Sam Ukala, said that arts are indispensable in any society, adding that they develop cultivated human beings and equip them to understand and record their world.
He also said that arts help to substantially predict man’s future and what he might need to cope with his challenges, stating that it also encourages self-reflection which helps to develop personal consciousness and an active sense of civic duty.
He also said “Arts help to create and sustain awareness of identity through humanistic socialisation and knowledge of one’s history. Arts give pleasure or entertain, and at the same time, socialise man and provide for him a code for living. Arts also boost the economy. Ukala added that instead of scraping the arts, which according to him “would turn the world into a habitat of beasts and criminals and reverse all positive developments and civilisation,” governments anduniversity administrators should rescind their anti-arts policies and create equal opportunities for the arts, social sciences and natural sciences to co-habit.
He noted that every other knowledge actually emanated from arts. He proposed the establishment of Arts Endowment Fund to be managed by the Arts Commission in order to champion research and practical projects aimed at restoring and propagating the arts, including indigenous arts and their moral and ethical values, adding that humanities should be made a compulsory General Studies course in Nigerian universities while Moral and Civic Education should be a core subject at lower levels.