The immediate past Deputy-Vice-Chancellor (Academic), University of Ilorin, Prof. Bayo Lawal, has called on universities in Nigeria to strengthen the town and gown relationship in order to achieve their set goals.
Prof. Lawal made the call last Wednesday (September 7, 2016) while delivering his Keynote address at the fourth workshop of the General Studies Division of the University of Ilorin, themed “Repositioning the GNS for Maximization of Studentship in the University”.
The Workshop, organized for the GNS coordinators, lecturers, monitors and Faculty representatives, was aimed at sensitizing and mobilizing the GNS lecturers for the 2016/2017 academic session.
The former Deputy Vice-Chancellor opined that universities should create robust relationship with the gown, especially the technocrats, who can make the entrepreneurship courses of the institutions to be more result-oriented.
In his lecture, entitled “Re-Inventing the General Studies Curriculum for Efficient Studentship and Graduate Employability”, Prof. Lawal lamented that “the GNS, which is supposed to be approached as a full-fledged curriculum with its clearly delineated goals, specific, identifiable objectives, clear-cut instructional delivery, evaluation and feedback methods, techniques and resources, is now being approached as a mere programme”.
According to him, “there are no specific, achievable objectives that can serve as targets or standards for assessing students’ learning outcomes and also for driving classroom activities. There are no well-equipped entrepreneurship laboratories and workshops where students can acquire hands-on and hearts-on experiences leading to the incubation of original ideals.
Calling on the management of the University of Ilorin to support the GNS courses, the Professor of English Education urged the management “to put in place an entrepreneurship complex to house lecturers and instructors, lecture rooms and lecture theatres, enterprise laboratories/incubators as well as mini-factories.
Prof. Lawal also made a case for “end-of-Semester essays, debates and motivational speech contests among the students, Daily GNS on Unilorin 89.3 FM radio, and a GNS WhatsApp Platform to show-case exemplary expressions, accurate and appropriate use of English, and also to correct common errors and misconceptions.
The former Deputy Vice-Chancellor explained that “all the foregoing recommendations for re-positioning the GNS curriculum in the University of Ilorin are anchored within the context of the limited academic freedom enjoyed by every Nigerian university vis-à-vis the NUC-approved Academic Benchmarks”.
According to him, “this implies that the benchmarks are the common cores that unite programmes in all Nigerian universities”. He said, “This common core can and should be flavoured to give each university its own distinctive character and tone within reasonable limits of balanced and judicious loading of the curriculum.
Earlier in his opening remark, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali, described the GNS Unit as “a university within a university because it caters for all the students of the institution”.
Prof. Ambali, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. N. Y. S. Ijaya, noted that the purpose of the workshop was to reorganise and reenergise the unit so that it can be programmed in a better position to deliver its mandate.
The Vice-Chancellor urged the participants to look at the grey areas that have been hindering the objectives of the set goals with the hope that the courses will wear a new look by the time the institution commences the new academic session.
In his welcome address, the Director of the GNS Unit, Prof. Abdulwahab Egbewole, disclosed that a course on Digital Skill Acquisition would be added to the existing GNS courses in order to keep the students in line with global trends.
Prof. Egbewole said, “Since the inception of the GNS in this University in 1977, the Division has moved from strength to strength and today we now cater for about 27,000 students of this great University and presently delivering on five courses and the sixth course, Digital Skill Acquisition, is already concluded for commencement in 2016/2017 academic session”.
On the improvement of the quality of GNS delivery in the University, the Professor of Law disclosed that “the Senate in its wisdom decided that in the bid to improve the quality of GNS delivery in the University, the Division should put in place an agreement between the lecturers and the Division. To this end, the Division is introducing what it called GNS Division Charter and Work Plan for all lecturers to guide preparations and delivery of GNS lectures.
According to him, “There is nothing sacrosanct about these documents and they are not cast in iron as they are subject to constant review and corrections for improvement. It is just that we must start from somewhere.
On the objectives of the workshop, the GNS Director expressed the hope that the delivery strategy of the GNS courses would have been fine-tuned for better administration, adding that the lecturers would be better informed on the mandate of the GNS Division and properly key into the mandate.
Also delivering a lecture at the Workshop, the former Dean of the Faculty of Education, Prof. A. S. Olorundare, stated that no nation could rise above the quality of its teachers.
In his lecture, entitled “Effective delivery of the GNS Curriculum: Issues and Challenges”, the Professor of Science Education observed that in order to have an effective lecture preparation and delivery, the lecturers need to develop themselves and be conversant with the technological demands of a 21st Century lecturer.
Prof. Olorundare urged lecturers to “consult varieties of materials for their lecture”, saying, “In this era of technological age, teaching aids and materials can be found through the internet. You can hardly see any topic that is not on YouTube. Make use of them in order to have an effective lecture delivery. Be ICT compliant and show it demonstratively in your GNS lectures”.
“Avoid using the same materials for years without updating them”, the don advised, pointing out that “some lecturers give to students the notes that were given to them during their undergraduate studies. Such habit should be discouraged. The lecture note should conform to the current happenings in the field of study”.