Friday, August 11, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Symposium on Higher Education, ISGPP event in photos, 3

Thanks Jibo. I look forward to reading your reflections and to following your project on the university and the public good, a timely intervention in the Nigerian context.

On Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 11:53 AM, Jibrin Ibrahim <jibrinibrahim891@gmail.com> wrote:
Moses
I did question why we had so many VCs and no ASUU and its critics so your interrogations are in order. However, my understanding is that there will be a series of meetings and this is only the first one. I have a draft paper which I will finalise over the next three weeks for comments and will send it to you. I have just started a project on the university and the public good which would lead to a book next year.

Jibo

Professor Jibrin Ibrahim
Senior Fellow
Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja
Follow me on twitter @jibrinibrahim17

On 9 August 2017 at 16:44, Moses Ebe Ochonu <meochonu@gmail.com> wrote:
I have come again with my troublemaking. Someone must pose these questions. If no one else will, I'll step up and do so. I've gone through the photos of this symposium on higher education organized by the ISGPP. I have also read Tunji Olaopa's essay on it. If that essay is a faithful account of what transpired at the symposium, I must say with a sense of regret that it does not seem like any radical or new ideas emanated from the deliberations. Dr. Olaopa quoted and paraphrased copiously from presentations done by retired and serving Vice Chancellors. From his essay, one gets the sense that the participants were simply rehashing the familiar, ASUU-endorsed problems of high education in Nigeria, which can all be reductively contained in the rubric of funding. Nothing new here. It's the same lack of self-reflexivity, the same "it's other people's fault" canard.

You gather some retired and serving university administrators to engage in an incestuously self-serving conversation about how the problems plaguing Nigerian universities can be reduced to funding (the easy, hackneyed go-to alibi) and how the problems are other people's fault and not their own. The outcome would be predictably banal and officious.

I ask: what radically new ideas for reforming the Nigerian university system came out of that gathering? I did not see any in Dr. Olaopa's essay/summary. What proposals were advanced to hold academics and administrators accountable? What innovative strategies did the VCs, retired and serving, implement in their institutions to solve or mitigate some of the problems we already know? What did the symposium demand of Nigerian academics and Vice Chancellors?

More crucially, the university exists primarily as an organ of instruction, with students being the objects of this instructional enterprise. Accordingly, I ask: were students or student bodies invited to offer their perspectives on the problems of university education in Nigerian and solutions to them? If they were invited, did the forum offer them a free platform to enunciate their frank opinions on some of the familiar problems (poor or absent instruction, exploitation, sexual harassment, etc)? Were parents or alumni organizations invited to offer their own unique perspectives? It seems to me that the big men and big women VCs and other big invitees assumed the position of omniscience in university matters, speaking for all stakeholders.

I see that my friend, Professor Jibo Ibrahim, presented at the event. I personally would love to know the kernel of his presentation. I am tired of getting the ASUU-approved line from these forums on Nigerian higher education, which the VCs and others seem to have simply repeated at the ISGPP symposium. I've known Jibo to buck the ASUU rhetoric, to demonstrate self-critique as a former ASUU activist, to introspectively question ASUU's current tactics and direction, and to advocate that ASUU evolve even as higher education has evolved globally. Perhaps he is able to offer these dispassionate views because he left the system and now has an outsider's perspective. Even so, I admire his nuanced but empathetic position on ASUU and its struggles and on the university sector generally. I would have loved to read what he had to say because he and Professor Falola are the only ones I know among the panelists who are neither beholden to the ASUU orthodoxy nor protective/defensive of their legacy and constituency (They're not  former or incumbent VCs).

On Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 9:43 AM, Toyin Falola <toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu> wrote:

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