Soyinka wants stakeholders to convene national university conference

Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has called on stakeholders in the country’s public university system to come together for a large congregation to discuss the way forward regarding university education in the country.

Soyinka, who made the suggestion on Monday night as a guest on a TV program, Newsnight, said such a holistic approach which would involve closing public universities across the country for a year, had become imperative if the myriad of challenges facing the country’s university system would be addressed.

According to him, the congregation, including representations of various stakeholders, such as students, professors and others, would generate a new set of laws regarding how universities in the country should be run.

Describing the relentless strike actions of university professors as a piecemeal approach to the real problem, the Nobel laureate added that the ongoing dialogues between university professors and the federal government would not bear the long-awaited fruits as long as this congregation would not be called.

“Many years ago I proposed a solution, and that solution has now become even more urgent. I proposed that the universities close for a year, come together for a massive congregation of professors, student representatives and other stakeholders, in which we redefine what a university should be.

“Then we agree on a set of university laws that would be generated by the university, not dictated so that it becomes our own thing. It makes you produce a university culture and a collegiate culture.

“When I made this proposal, back in the days of Babangida, they said I was speaking on behalf of the government, and one year was rather too long. But, the number of months they have closed now, add them up, it’s over two years,” he said.

Soyinka also attacked those who use social media as a “game object”, instead of using it as an instrument of authentic learning and communication.

“The current misuse of social media by some young people is the most devastating disruption of beautiful technology I have ever seen. Instead of using it as an instrument of learning and authentic communication, all that they do is insult the right, the left and the center.

“Sometimes they kill you again and again. I read my obituary several times, and each time I read it, I said: let me go get my bottle of red wine before it becomes true.


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