Education policy, ethics and town-gown relations

The importance of virile educational policy, sound ethics, and town-gown relations have been identified to be central to the attainment of the lofty goals of higher institutions and education in general. This realisation came to the fore as panelists looked at these issues in some recent discourse on what Nigeria needs to do to get it correctly as far as education is concerned because of its importance to national development. For the Dean, School of Science, Federal College of Education, Osiele, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Dr. Iyabo Dan-Ologe, the newly-inaugurated National Policy on the Implementation of Science and Technology Education would address some loopholes in the sector and redirect the educational system towards skills acquisition in order to create jobs and drastically reduce poverty to the barest minimum.

Dr. Dan-Ologe maintained that funding and corruption were the factors militating against policy implementation in Nigeria. According to her, there was the need for the nation to wake up from slumber if it wants to compete favourably with other countries of the world by placing more emphasis on science and technology. “Over the time, lack of national policy on education to address science education in Nigeria is some of the problems facing science and technology in the nation, hence the need for the newly-launched policy”, she said. “There is an improvement from what we used to have in respect of women in science, but there can still be an improvement”, the Don added. Dr. Dan-Ologe reaffirmed that education remains a vital tool for the progress of Nigeria, stressing that it would help develop individuals to be morally sound, patriotic, and effective as citizens that could bring development to the country.

She urged the government to increase the budget of science and technology education and give room for contributions from private sector operators by upgrading infrastructure from the primary to tertiary levels across the country. The immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Augustine University, Ilara-Epe, Lagos State, Prof. Steve Afolami, has warned that science without ethics and morals is not complete. Prof. Afolami made this known while delivering a paper titled, “Interaction Between Sciences and Humanities” at the maiden edition of the “Humanising the Sciences Conference “(HUSCON 2021), organised by the Department of Communication and General Studies (CGNS), College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development (COLAMRUD), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State. The Professor of Nematology said humanities have the capacity and tendency to make human beings wiser and more virtuous by their nature.

He added that religion, philosophy, anthropology, history, and literature, among others, present the past in a manner that could prevent human beings from falling into errors of judgment. The keynote speaker, Prof. Peter Aborisade, from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Ondo State, said there was a need for collaboration between science, technology, and humanities. “Don’t draw the line between science and technology because it will never succeed,” he cautioned. On his part, the Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB, Prof. Kolawole Salako, said the conference was needed at this time when attention had been shifted from humanities to sciences, stressing that the conference did not only explore the inter-dependency between science and humanities, but also discussed the relevance of humanistic sciences. Represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Bolanle Akeredolu-Ale, the Vice-Chancellor said there was an urgent need for collaboration between the two great fields.

Prof. Salako urged participants not to overlook ethical considerations in the course of their practice, noting that scientific progress can only take place under a peaceful and harmonious society. Meanwhile, the Convener of HUSCON 2021, Prof. Comfort Onifade, appreciated Prof. Salako-led management for its immense contribution towards the success of the conference. On the imperative of town and gown relations, various governments have been charged to facilitate synergy between tertiary institutions and the industry for Nigeria to achieve economic prosperity. This call was made by Mr. Olalekan Sotunde, Planning Officer at the Academic Planning Unit of FUNAAB. For him, there should be synergy and a value chain between the Town and Gown so as to move the country forward. Mr. Sotunde said tertiary institutions needed to commercialise what they have without losing originality. “We should be commercialising our strengths”, he added.

The analyst stated further that there was an assumption in this part of the world that everything coming from the government, including education, should be free. He said the mandate of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) was basically to provide essential physical infrastructure for teaching and learning, institutional materials and equipment, support research and publications, and other needs, as ascertained by the Board of TETFund. Certainly, the challenges facing the nation’s education sector is daunting. We can easily recollect those bordering on examination malpractice, cultism, unstable academic calendar, poor motivation of teachers, discrepancies in curriculum, and inadequate funding, among others. However, getting a few things rightly by taking the right step in the right direction is critical, hence the importance of virile educational policy, sound ethics, and town-gown relations in a bid to secure the future of the country and also engender national development.

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