The 2017-2018 academic session came alive in a grand style at Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa, Edo State when on Wednesday, 11th October, 2017 the University hosted a workshop on the Transformation of Education in Nigeria. The workshop, which held on the serene campus of the University, was co-facilitated by Professor Alexander Schieffer, a German Professor of Economics, Business, and Social Sciences, who came all the way from Geneva and Reverend Fr. Dr. Anslem Adodo, Founder and Director of Nigeria’s foremost Herbal Research Institute, Ofure Integrated Research and Development Initiative (OFIRDI) and Pax Herbal.
Professor Schieffer, who heads TRAN4M Centre for Integral Development, Geneva, spoke on the topic; Integral Education and Research for Social Innovation in Nigeria and Africa against the backdrop of new thinking in the direction of transformative education where there is an effective conversation between Africa and Europe and the rest of the world. He emphasised that education and research that do not lead to development are meaningless.
Professor Schieffer underscored the need for educational institutions to address the local-global imbalance through integral development which brings together differing perspectives to enable holistic development and social innovation. He stressed that it is about time policy makers moved from mere rhetoric to addressing major imbalances and palpable dichotomies, from materialism and abject poverty to equitable and sustainable livelihoods; from bureaucracy, dogma, corruption, environmental and community decay to healthy and participatory co-existence; from closed systems to open and transparent knowledge creation, and from conflict, fundamentalism and terrorism to balanced and peaceful co-evolution.
Professor Schieffer expressed joy in seeing a faith-based university such as Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa, aiming to be a world-class institution, firmly and proudly located in a rural area. He was truly excited about the investment in the local environment and emphasised that SAU’s rural setting is clearly an advantage rather than a disadvantage, especially in the age of local integration within the global educational infrastructure.
Reverend Fr. Dr. Anslem Adodo, a member of the Benedictine Order of the Catholic Church, on his own part, discussed the topic, Towards a Transformation of Education in Nigeria and Africa. He expressed his discontentment about the way Africans manage their enormous resources. He drew attention to the fact that Africans are surrounded by wealth, yet live in poverty, stressing that the most striking aspect of Africa is its wastefulness.
Fr. Adodo maintained that without Africa’s intellectual capital, the iron ore excavated in Africa will continue to be processed into manufactured goods in Europe and exported back to Africa at enormous cost. To alleviate poverty, Adodo affirms, Africa needs to cultivate creative and intellectual abilities that will allow it to increase the value of its raw materials and break the continent’s vicious cycle of poverty. According to the reverend gentleman, poverty is not the absence of money but rather it results from the absence of knowledge. “The world needs Africa”, he admonishes.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor and the immediate past President of Nigerian Economic Society, Professor Benard Eronmonsele Aigbokhan, expressed joy at the presence of the two eminent facilitators. He appreciated in particular, Rev. Fr. Adodo, who facilitated the visit of Professor Schieffer. He also commended the effort of Dr. Simon Ehiabhi, an academic with SAU, who initiated the workshop.
Fr. Adodo eulogised the Management of Samuel Adegboyega University for their openness to innovation and development. He stated that OFIDRI and Pax Herbal would partner with the University in reaching out to the world.
The event featured the presentation of the Esan Ijakpa as a commemorative gift to Professor Schieffer, a gift he displayed with gusto.
The speakers were inundated with questions bordering on the possibilities of the transformation and integration of education in Nigeria and Africa and the future of research into indigenous knowledge and the utilisation of such research results.
The event was concluded by the vote of thanks given by the new Registrar of the University, Mr. Bamidele Olotu.
In attendance were Principal Officers of the Univeristy, Prof. Aigbokhan (Vice-Chancellor), Mr. Bamidele Olotu (Registrar), Mr. Simeon Dairo (Acting Bursar), and Dr. Christopher Nkiko (University Librarian). Also in attendance were the Deans of Colleges, Heads of Department, Academic and non-teaching Staff, and Students, who were not left out in the question and answer session.