UNILAG EU-Africa Connect Will Build Capacity For Quality Leadership, Integration

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As the University of Lagos (UNILAG) EU-Africa Connect Summer School 2023 came to a close, the authority of the University has explained that the programme was designed to encourage and build capacities of young learners to develop Africa and Nigeria in particular.

Speaking during the programme co-funded by the European Union (EU) for undergraduates of the university, Professor Olufemi Saibu, the Project Coordinator of the UNILAG-Jean Monnet Module Programme, said it has become imperative to get closer and understudy what other countries, especially Europeans are doing right and replicate the same locally.

At the three-week programme where no fewer than 30 students selected across Faculties and Department were exposed to European culture and values, Prof Saibu said, “We created a three-week programme whereby young guys from Africa are encouraged to learn, build capacities, add values for leadership abilities as well.

He explained the summer programme was organized to bridge the gap between the European Union nations and the continent of Africa, where despite the geographical closeness they are far apart in terms of understanding, culture, language and other imperatives.

In an interview at the Arthur Mbanefo Digital Research Centre (AMRC) in Akoka main campus venue of the programme, Saibu added, “The students, who were grouped as representatives of each country in the European Union during the summer school, were taught the culture, language, economy, policy, education, international policy, parliamentary system, as well as opportunities in each of the countries.

“The EU-Africa Connect Project, a University of Lagos-Jean Monnet Module Programme, is a three-year programme under the EU-Erasmus plus Jean Monnet Action for Higher Education Modular programme comprising, summer school, research workshops, mock EU Parliamentary sessions and a final international conference on EU-Africa Connectivity designed for university students seeking a career in International Relations and Diplomacy.”

“Europe is the closest continent to Africa. We normally talk about cultural values and there’s no way we can get closer without understanding each other. So, in a way of ensuring that at least we pick some things that are good from those continents that are doing better than us, the European Commission on their own encouraged younger generations from other parts of the world to learn about their culture, their values. So, we are taking advantage of these leveller to identify some students to learn about the culture of Europe, learn about its socio-cultural system, the European political system and institutions as well, for one purpose, to be able to see those aspects that are good that we can imbibe.

“And also what are those things we can pick from them and adopt to build a United Africa and Nigeria? As we get older, Africa requires diplomats who are very good at diplomacy to manage the future. So, we should begin to instill in those students by building the type of younger generation, kind of human resources with the capacity to serve this purpose and interface with these international partners to realise the future we’re looking at.”

He emphasised that the EU-Africa Connect Summer School 2023 was not meant to make the younger generation become Europeans or make them a slave to Europe.

“We are not teaching them to become Europeans nor teach them to become a slave of Europe. We are not teaching them to abandon Africa or forget about the injustices to Africa. But we are teaching them to be able to take advantage of opportunities that are available to understand the cultures of those people, understand their values and also to imbibe those that are good so that they can develop.”

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