Last Friday, July 13, 2018, the University of Ilorin scored another goal as the Faculty of Education, under the Deanship of Prof. Noah Oyedeji, organised a historic roundtable on “Education, Peace and Sustainable Development in Nigeria,” the keynote address to which was ably delivered by the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah.  Honoured to be listed among the discussants of the presentation, excerpts of my contribution to the discourse, read on my behalf by the esteemed Dr Abiola Adimula of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, are as follows, even if the full text is available at www.mahfouzadedimeji.com:

The need for balanced education 

There is a Yoruba proverb that says, “aaro meta o ki n dobe nu” (“three earthen mounds do not spill the soup pot”) which suggests the centrality of triangulation as we have it here. A judicious admixture of traditional education, religious education and modern/conventional/Western education is all we need to power our peace and development, animate our progress and advancement and secure our present and future.  Without realising the need for this triangular and balanced approach, we would always realise that “it is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense,” a point once made by Robert Ingersoll. That common sense is better than “education” is a fact that is playing out in our political arena where supposedly educated people fight in the hallowed chambers like wayward children and engage in theatrical antics that are bereft of common sense in their bid to escape justice or win elections.

While Malcom X would tell us that education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today, education itself is not adequate for us in Nigeria without it being balanced. It is the dearth of that type of education that would make a medical doctor smoke, a lawyer not to have a driver’s license and an accountant not to have a personal budget. Lack of balanced education makes English-speaking people among us to abuse drugs, engage in prostitution and indulge in conduct unbecoming since character is the soul of education as the beautiful story of the Chinese and their Great Wall of China that the Minister alluded to illustrates.

We should always remember that “a child educated only at school is an uneducated child” as George Santayana told us and as a nation, we should imbibe the culture of life-long learning so that schooling does not terminate our education. Education is from the cradle to the grave, as Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, and the teachers, the parents and the religious leaders are expected to educate their children and followers functionally, not indoctrinate them.

Putting peace in perspective

The Honourable Minister talked about peace meaning different things to many people and its profundity is striking. Peace is everyone’s beautiful bride and we must embrace it. The psychologists consider it as a state of mind in harmony and balance, what the Germans call the weltanschauung.  We all pray for peace of mind as a tormented soul will not assimilate education or appreciate the beauty of development. On their part, the sociologists consider peace as “a value that emanates from just human relationships which enhance social harmony, creativity, productivity and prevention of war”. When there is social order and equilibrium, the society triumphs.

While the theists and religious theorists consider peace as “the ubatory level of calm, the harmonious correspondence of conduct and conviction, creed and deed”, the political perspective of peace engenders its being considered “a broad concept subsumed in the balance of powers, civil government and freedoms”. Besides, to the philosophers, peace is all about “a duality of equals in a reality, balance, social justice, equality and public welfare.”

Everyone desires to live in peace. Every General knows that the purpose of war itself is to achieve peace. War is not expected to be permanent; it is to restore peace. Peace is natural; war is man-made. Everything in the universe, the cosmos, the planets, is in harmony; there is no conflict.  In Islam, we greet one another with “peace be upon you” and Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. Even in death, we still wish to rest in peace! Peace is non-negotiable and peace is everything.

Achieving peace and sustaining development through education

Nevertheless, we need quality, functional and balanced education to achieve peace. When peace is achieved, its corollary is development, the type of what we see in stable polities like today’s Rwanda, after its own scourge of war. Since no development is true until when it is sustainable, we appreciate that part of the gains of education is peace and the outcome of peace is development. So, in simple terms, education leads to peace and peace results in development (E=P=D).

There is no alternative to education. There is no alternative to peace. There is no alternative to development. It is due to the centrality of development that at the dawn of this millennium, countries of the world arrived at the need to focus attention on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were eight in number. While advances were made in other parts of the world, nothing much was achieved in Nigeria till MDGs expired in 2015 and the world still set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which remain the target of global efforts till 2030. SDGs are 17 and both education and peace feature prominently at No 4 (quality education) and No 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). They are the wheels that make development roll or the wings that make it fly…

Of July and Joyful News

Apart from hosting a Minister of the Federation for the first time in many years, this month is remarkable in many respects for the University of Ilorin as a month of good tidings, joy and jollity. Apart from the joyful news of professorial elevations for deserving academics and appointments of new Directors that many of us learnt of this month through Unilorin Bulletin, it is also the month in which our immediate past Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Prof. (Mrs) Nike Yetunde Ijaiya and Prof. Gabriel Olatunji, two academic titans and astute managers of people and resources, completed their terms. They are both ably succeeded by Prof. Silva Malomo, who had first made history as the first female Dean in the University and a former acting Chief Medical Director of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Prof. Olayinka Buhari.

It is also noteworthy that the status of the better by far University also came further to the limelight with the joyful news of the elevation of two former Deans of Law, Prof. Wahab O. Egbewole and Muhammad M. Akanbi, to the Nigerian inner bar as Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN). How more blessed can a University be as the news is a way of reiterating what is known to those who know that the University of Ilorin is the best here and beyond!

The Alma Mater congratulates the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, the former and new Deputy Vice-Chancellors, our new (Associate) Professors, the Directors and Deans. The column especially felicitates with the new SANs, who have made the University proud at the national level by dint of their academic distinction and professional excellence!

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