English spoken by graduates calls for concern — TASUED VC
March 17, 2013 by SEGUN OLATUNJI- PUNCH
Vice-Chancellor, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State, Prof. Oluyemisi Obilade
appointed Vice-Chancellor, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun,
Ogun State, Prof. Oluyemisi Obilade spoke with journalists on her plans
for the institution. SEGUN OLATUNJI was there
How will you react to
the allegation that Tai Solarin University of Education has deviated
from its focus of training the trainers by running courses outside
Running courses outside education depends
on the way we package the programmes. As a university of education, we
have the responsibility of training people who train others at every
area of education but it must be related to the process of knowledge
production and dissemination.
Training teachers is not only for
secondary schools. I trained as an adult educator; I am a professor of
adult education and women studies. The beauty of knowledge is the
application of that knowledge; therefore, when I go to ante-natal or
child welfare clinics to teach on issues of gender-based violence, I am
teaching but I am not teaching at nursery, primary or secondary schools.
If we limit it to that, that is a
pedestrian way of looking at the field of education; it’s a very wide
field and so we should equip nurses who teach in community education,
community nursing and medicine units with the necessary pedagogical
skills to be able to teach.
Not everybody can teach; you might have
the content knowledge but you might not have the capacity to pass the
message across. That is why some people will go to school and will not
remember what they were taught, but they will not be able to forget what
another teacher taught them outside school.
What is your vision for the university?
We want to take this university to the
level of global excellence as an institution where knowledge production
takes pre-eminence and precedence. The product and staff of the
university are not local products, we are global products. We should be
able to fit in anywhere in the world and not feel inferior.
I’ve never felt inferior to any of my
colleagues anywhere in the world when we interact. We may not have a lot
of the facilities but we have the human capacity and as Nigerians, we
have a lot of knowledge and drive to succeed and so when we go out
there, we compete with the best.
We want to move to a level where we will
build the capacity of our staff through exchange programmes,
conferences, seminars, workshops and post graduate training in such a
way that they will interact with people from across the globe and will
put the name of this university on the global map.
What plan do you have for the development of exchange programmes with other institutions?
We are thinking of improving and opening
up linkages for other institutions. We would like our students to
exchange visits and have short interactions so that they would have a
global perspective of what total holistic education is all about. We are
not breeding local champions; we are breeding global champions. People
should be able to come here from all over the world to study. We have
the dream of replicating some of the things that happen all over the
world where you have students from all over the world coming to study.
I visited the University of Legon as an
external examiner and during the summer vacation, you see a lot of
people from all over the world coming to study there. We want them to
come to TASUED to study too. If you want to know about anything that is
going on in the education world, come to TASUED. Our plan is to make the
institution a one-stop-shop for every manner of knowledge production
and knowledge dissemination in the area of education.
We want to encourage publications because
those are the things that increase the rating for our academic staff.
When you Google TASUED, you’ll be able to see the long list of what we
have been able to do.
Your programme will involve huge financial commitment…
We want to raise our Internally Generated
Revenue to a level where it would support our dreams and aspirations
because we need recourses to drive this vision and we are looking at
IGR. We have looked into many areas of IGR and we are working on them.
Do you believe that the standard of
education in Nigeria is falling and what advice can you offer the
government on how to check this unfortunate trend?
Yes, the standard of education is falling
in the country. I say it is falling because my first degree was in
Education English/History and the sort of spoken English that I hear
from people who have purportedly gone to the university calls for
If you can’t express yourself very well
in simple English language, how do you want to convince me that you
understand what is going on in your environment?
Again, you find a lot of people who
graduated from our secondary schools who are not able to write simple
English. There was a young girl that once lived with me, she was
supposed to go into JSSIII, as we were going to her new school, I said,
"Write your name and the name of your former school.” She could only
write her name. As a teacher, I stopped the car and asked her to read
what was written on a particular signpost. "Make your calls here,” she
looked at it for a long time, then I asked, "can’t you read?” and she
said she couldn’t read! I then asked her how she managed to get to JSS
III. I had to first of all get a teacher for her at home before she
could get registered for JSS I.
The standard is falling and that is why
the rate of examination malpractice is on the increase. Pupils no longer
prepare well for examinations these days and so, they engage in a lot
What is the solution?
We can do that by looking at education
holistically. When we fail to address the issue that over 70 per cent of
Nigerians are illiterate, we’ll continue to produce illiterates. There
are some people who do not know how to read and write; they do not see
the benefit of education. We have not made conscious efforts to get them
to open up into the wider space of the world through basic literacy and
they are the parents of these children.
So, when these children come back from
school, (that is if they do go to school at all), the parents don’t see
any need to check the notes of their children. So, the Federal
Government first of all, needs to address the issue of adult illiteracy
so that parents will also understand the value of education.
We also need to provide infrastructural
support. Some of the schools that are in rural areas are grossly
underfunded. I undertook some studies in Nasarawa State and most of the
pupils were reading under the trees. Many do not have teachers; many of
the teachers do not have the necessary skills and so, how do you expect
these children to be fit into this century?
We will be deceiving ourselves to say
that the standard is not falling; NECO and WAEC results have proven that
the standard has fallen. Many of us go the extra mile to ensure that
our children don’t fall far behind.
What is your advice to students in your institution?
They should make use of the opportunities
provided by the school. They are blessed because out of the 9,000
candidates that applied for admission here, just about 3,000 were
offered admission and those who matriculated were not up to the number
This is because some of them did not meet
up with the screening procedures. Being offered provisional admission
does not preclude the fact that there are some basic things that the
university demands of you and all the screening processes must be done
thoroughly and you must fulfil all the requirements for being a student
of TASUED before you can matriculate. So, they should make the best use
of the opportunity because it may never come their way again.