The academia and experts have called for a paradigm shift in African education and research curriculum to fit into the present realities of the continent and the new normal. The calls were made by different speakers at the opening ceremony of the 4th Summer Institute of Ife Institute of Advanced Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
While declaring the programme open, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, reiterated the vision of the summer institute which is to build on the collective vision of supporting young and emerging scholars in Africa. He noted the programme which is in its fourth year has yielded results for past attendees. He then commended the convener, Prof. Jacob Oluponna, for choosing the university to be the venue for such impactful vision. He appreciated the efforts of the facilitators and sponsors who made this edition a reality despite the Coronavirus pandemic. Ogunbodede charged the fellows of the 4th Institute to appreciate the efforts of the organizers by giving back when it is their own time.
In his own remarks, the convener, Prof. Jacob Oluponna, said the vision behind the Summer Institute is to create a platform where the skills and competencies of the participants would be strengthened to conduct cutting edge research in both the humanities and the social sciences. He also pointed to the fact that the essence of the 2-week event is imbued fellows with values that would place them on a global knowledge pedestal. Oluponna noted that this year’s edition has altered the nature of the summer institute as the programme shifted online because of the COVID 19 pandemic. This, according to him, has expanded the participation in the programme as over 100 participants were drawn from 20 countries of the world including Nigeria, US, India, Canada, Cameroon, Egypt, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ireland and others. He therefore thanked the sponsors, Ford Foundation, for supporting the vision of the institute.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Francis Egbokhare, who is a professor of Linguistics and President of Nigerian Academy of Letters, made a call for a paradigm shift in the way research is conducted in Nigerian/African universities. He emphasized the recent shift in knowledge production and consumption which was accentuated by the COVID 19 pandemic. Prof. Egbokhare noted the need for trans-disciplinary, interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches to the conduct of research on a global level. He asserted that these approaches are needed to provide solutions to the myriad of problems facing the continent. He, however, berated the Nigerian universities’ sluggishness to flow with the current tide of the new logic. He asserted that to provide comprehensive solutions to issues, there is a need for interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration between the researchers on the continent.
In her goodwill message, Chief Mrs Ibukun Awosika, the Chairman of First Bank Nigeria, also called for a more robust relationship between the universities and the organized private sector to allow for training of students to suit labour market demands. Chief Awosika observed that as things stand, the graduates from Nigerian universities are not suitable for the available jobs in the labour market. She appreciated the organizers for an attempt to bridge an existing gap in the Nigerian/African research space.
The 2020 Ife Summer Institute – with the theme Exploring New Frontiers: Knowledge Creation, Collaboration and Dissemination – is the fourth edition and will be held online from July 20 to August 1, 2020. The programme will involve panel sessions and lectures on mentorship and networking, research methodology, scientific research writing, remote teaching and digital pedagogues.