Curriculum: Stop Imposing Neoliberal, Western Agenda On Nigerian Universities – Falola Tells NUC

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A renowned historian and Professor at the University of Texas, Austin, United States of America, Toyin Falola, has called on the National Universities Commission (NUC), Nigeria’s regulatory agency for the universities, to desist from alleged imposition of “neoliberal and western agenda” on the nation’s university system.

Mr Falola, who was the 54th Convocation Lecturer at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, discussed the theme: “Decolonising African Higher Education for Transformational Development”.

The event was chaired by the former Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Yemi Ogunbiyi.

The guest lecturer said Nigerian tertiary institutions and their African counterparts that “are either created in the shadow of the colonial systems or established following the patterns left by colonial ideological relics,” deserve more efforts to decolonise them.

Challenges

Meanwhile, according to Mr Falola, technological advancement which he noted “has led to an increasing interconnectedness and interdependence of countries and people around the world, particularly in economics, politics, and culture,” is one of the challenges identified with the decolonisation project.

He noted that Africa’s curriculum often undergoes amendments to align with global standards and that over time, the cultural imperatives that contribute to the identity of the people are gradually removed from the curriculum.

“Interestingly, internal deficiencies in the African system of education hinder the decolonisation of the curriculum. Many libraries in African universities shelve mostly Western books, creating unavailability challenges for researchers seeking African resources,” he said.

“Also, the cost of shelving African books is a mitigating factor for these libraries, and the deplorable economies of most African states are the root cause of such exorbitant prices.”

Continued development in UNILAG

Mr Falola gave practical steps and recommendations for the overall enhancement of decolonisation in UNILAG and African higher education for transformational development.

He suggested the expansion of general courses and programmes on cultural properties, African Epistemologies and Ingenuities, which will sharpen individuals’ perspectives on subject matters around the continent.

He also recommended the promotion of African languages as academic courses, the creation of African vocabulary development and enlightenment bank; the proliferation of African concepts and scholarship; social cultural initiatives; and combined honour awards in African culture, science and economies.

Mr Falola further proposed the creation of a centre for creative economies explaining that UNILAG being in Lagos, Africa’s largest coastal city requires an academic discipline with a focus on the “blue economy”.

“Education at the University of Lagos must involve research and understudies that explore subjects and concepts that will foster the country’s infrastructure and economic development,” he added, recommending the creation of the Department of Lagoon and Sea Economies.

Vice-chancellor’s welcome remark

The Vice-Chancellor of UNILAG, Folasade Ogunsola, said Africa has lagged in development among the comity of nations, noting that the current educational system modelled on colonial constructs has not been able to drive the all-round development.

Mrs Ogunsola, however, encouraged that as Africans, “we must embrace who we are so we can make the right choices on what parts of other cultures we will adopt.”

“We must rediscover our purpose, trace our heritage, reorientate our minds and develop new policies that embrace our peculiarities and unique flavour.”

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