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Varsities should invest in research, innovation – former UNILAG VC

A former vice chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Tolu Odugbemi, has urged relevant educational agencies to improve on the curricula of the country’s educational system with a view to making university graduates employers of labour, rather than job seekers.

Odugbemi spoke last week at the University of Lagos, during the unveiling of his book entitled ‘Experiences on Starting a New University in a Developing Country Setting, Nigeria’.

He described universities as cradles of innovation, saying there is a need to reconsider and rethink how to redirect and reshape universities to finding solutions to various challenges facing developing countries.

He said, “It is unfortunate that technology in universities in developing countries is not directed at immediate challenges of making escalators or lifts function, getting simple means of transportation, finding alternative sources of energy and fabricating or upgrading tools to cool our homes and offices.

“Our universities should pay attention to researching into social and economic ills, hunger and ill health, dirty environment with heaps of garbage adding to ill health, atmospheric pollution and current trends in local and global climate.”

Professor Tolu Odugbemi advocated for background checks on potential management team, governing board members, and staff of universities.

Such a step, he said, would ensure that only qualified individuals are recruited, and not people who see universities in their localities as their ‘personal property’.

The book reviewer, Professor Ngozi Osarenren, who described the writer as a thoroughbred scholar, highlighted some of the suggestions recorded in the book for President Muhammadu Buhari, in the area of education.

“He (Odugbemi) observed that the education sector is marred by poor funding, ineptitude and sheer irresponsibility, urging the incoming administration to ensure that these factors are adequately addressed.

“Rather than allow the stinking influence of corruption to smear reputation of universities, Odugbemi called for moral rebirth in ivory towers.”