How poverty can be tackled in Nigeria by Prof. Toyin Falola

A professor at the University of Texas at Austin, United State of America, Toyin Falola has advocated the need for massive investment on children's   education by parents, state and the nation as a means of tackling poverty in the country.

In addition, the don also suggested the need for those administering the country at local, state and national level, to encourage youth to embrace skill acquisition, stating that the step would go a long way in addressing graduate unemployment and idleness.

Prof.Falola made the statement while delivering a lecture on Tuesday 9th October, 2018 at the Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, as part of activities marking the  34th convocation ceremony of the institution.

Speaking on a topic entitled: "EDUCATIONAL WEALTH" the renowned international scholar described knowledge acquisition as very important in breaking poverty chain,  noting  that the process could be kick-started  by  an individual at the family level,  who could be a farmer and  may not necessarily be wealthy, adding that similar scenario could be achieved at the local, state and national levels, when citizens demands that "the resources of the country should be used to transform the state,  in order to accelerate development."

He lamented the state of the Nigeria's economy and its inability to maximize the use of its resources effectively to meet the needs and aspirations of its citizens, warning that if urgent steps are not taken to address the situation, "Nigeria may wake up one day, to find out that countries buying oil from it, don't longer needs it."

In addition, he also expressed great concern on the failure of the country to   match up with its contemporaries such as Brazil and Malaysia, who he said have left it behind in technological advancement saying " we have not done well as a country in terms of the inability to use our resources to transform ourselves to generate development and create strong and greater institutions."

The ACE  34th  convocation lecture presenter attributed the problem to what he described as promotion of politics of  corruption saying, “for  us to move away from the problem, there is need for young men and women to be involved in politics. "

 He also suggested the need for the development of knowledge economy, where he said emphasis should be placed on improving quality of the school system and provision of necessary tools saying the step would enable the country's citizens to use the knowledge acquired to drive its economy.

While charging Nigerian youth to engage actively in political activities, the renowned History Scholar said: "You cannot be complaining that people have mismanaged your lives without taking part in politics, however, if you have to be part of those managing politics, you have to be interested in the politics of mobilization, I don't mean collecting cash to vote, but engaging in politics of mobilization, protest, participation in community building, remoralising the society as well  as recapitalising the poor and joining social movement to make the society better". 

He also advocated the need for the country's leadership to pay greater attention to girl child education and women development, saying whether we like it or not, " in the next 50 years, women would be controlling more than 50 percent of power in the world."

Prof. Falola, however, stressed the need for government at all levels in the country to adequately inform school teachers at both the primary and secondary school levels, to encourage girls to have more interest in mathematics. He also emphasized the need for them to be counseled on the need to realise that "women job is not only to be nurses,  but that they can be engineers, pharmacist and scientists.”

He equally charged parents to encourage their daughters "as early as they can talk, that they can go to the moon, do nuclear engineering, space engineering and that there is nothing in men's brain that is better than in women's brain".

On the Importance of technology in national development, the University Professor, urged the country's leadership to pay serious attention to it,  in order not to be left behind in global affairs. He charged authorities of Adeyemi College of Education to be at the centre of technological innovation and expansion, stating that the step would enable the institution to compete favorably with its contemporaries in other parts of the world.

Prof. Falola also spoke on advancement made in synthetic science especially in the field of Agriculture and food production as well as Robotics Science and Engineering and its use in surgical operations and Radiography. He advised management of Adeyemi College of Education to align with rush for technological changes, saying the step would ''dramatically increase efficiency and capacity in the institution".

While noting the ethical issues that would be thrown up as a result of technological breakthrough, in fields of study such as philosophy, religious studies, sociology and Anthropology,  the renowned scholar allayed fears in the minds of lecturers and religious leaders saying '' part of what this advances in science and technology would do will not make you and I irrelevant, but makes us to rethink our scholarship in terms of ethics."

On teacher education, Prof. Falola lauded ACE for its contributions to national development, he, however, expressed concerns on plight of teachers in the country especially in the area of poor remuneration,  saying the development could discourage young men and women and people with great talents  from going into the profession and hamper their retention in service.

While urging students of the institution and its graduands not to despair as a result of poor remuneration, the History Professor advised them to see teaching as one of the best occupation and great profession that they should be proud of. He charged management of the College  to sustain the good quality service,  for which the institution had earned global recognition.

On what the institution should do when it becomes a University, the renowned History   Professor suggested the need for its management to introduce new ways in the constitution of subjects departments,  which he said  could be done through merging of subjects in the humanities with sciences, science with culture as well as  creation of double degrees.

He said " You can no longer be thinking conventionally, the brain of nowadays kids are not programme to know one subject, their brains have now been rewired, thanks to computers and technology, they now know many things."

While emphasising the need for universities to encourage their students to combine talents with courses for which they were admitted, Prof. Falola advised authorities of ACE to ensure that when the institution finally becomes a University, efforts should be made to combine skills with textbook education.

"We can no longer undermine skills, nothing say someone who has a B.A degree in History or Chemistry, should not know how to paint, be a bricklayer or know how to repair a car, a radio  and a television. As you match skills with education, you will elevate yourself, increase your wallet and expand resources of the country,"he stated.

The highpoint of the well attended programme which witnessed the presence of eminent personalities from the academics, traditional and political institutions, was the presentation of cash award of N300,000 each  to two brilliant students of the institution by Prof. Falola. 

The students along with their counterparts in other universities competed in   2018 - 2019 Dr. Toyin Falola (Jnr) and Joseph Friesen (TFJF) Scholarship to emerge winners.

The recipients of the award were Miss Olajide Esther and Olorunda Blessing who are in NCE 2  and 200 level Biology class respectively in the College.

It will be recalled that students of Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo alongside their counterpart at the University of Ibadan have been given priority in the scholarship programme which is expected to benefits young people to pursue education in Nigeria. The organizers has specifically indicated that for the 2018 - 2019 competition, only Biology students from Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo  and Agricultural and Environmental Engineering students from the University of Ibadan will be considered.

The aim of the scholarship award is to help two young Nigerians over a three year period to achieve their dreams in order to make contribution to the development and progress of Nigerian nation.

The award is a 5,000 US dollar per candidate divided up into annual installments over three years and two scholarship winners per year is expected to emerge. The goal of the fund is to cover tuition, books and other school related items.