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Kenyan Scholar Urges African Leaders: Follow Western Actions, Prioritize Gifted Education for Development - TELL Magazine

Kenyan Scholar Urges African Leaders: Follow Western Actions, Prioritize Gifted Education for Development

Professor Olubayi Olubayi
Professor Olubayi Olubayi

African leaders have been cautioned against doing what the Western nations ask them to do, but to do exactly what the advanced nations do to advance their continents. They were also charged to make the education of their citizens top priority and pay more and special attention to the education of gifted children if the continent must grow and develop like the advanced nations of the world.

This admonition came from the Chief Academic Officer, Maarifa Education Holding, and Chairman, University Council, Cavendish University, Uganda, Professor Olubayi Olubayi, on Thursday at the third edition of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) Democracy Day Dialogue 2024, held at the Sir Victor Uwaifo Creative and Entertainment Hub, Benin City, Edo State capital, where he was guest speaker.

Speaking on the theme: “Functional Education and Effective Political Leadership as a Panacea to Africa’s Growth and Development”, which he described as apt, Prof. Olubayi, a renowned scientist and expert in bacteria, posited that the African continent had been held back implementing the policy directives of the Western world, while neglecting those elements that could enhance her progress and development.

The former vice chancellor and president of the International University of East Africa (IUEA) in Uganda asserted that the absence of funding and setting up of special schools for these gifted students, hampered research and technological drive in the continent. Buttressing his position with available data, he lamented that Nigeria, with 220 million population, had just 16 discoveries.

According to him, while Africa joined the remaining continents of the world to subscribe to the notion that all children must be given the opportunity to be educated, it failed to subscribe to the second notion that all specially gifted children must be isolated and developed so that they could use their innate intelligence to develop their various countries.

He was pained that while the advanced countries subsidised their educational systems, the same countries encouraged African leaders to cut off subsidies on education, research and discoveries. He expressed concern that all the 54 African countries with over 1.5 billion population, could not meet up with the scientific discoveries of Israel with over 17,000 patent rights.

Quoting from V.S. Naipupaul’s ‘A Bend in the River’, to wit: “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing have no place in it”, Prof. Olubayi, submitted that if African continent must also make progress, it must not wait for Whites to tell them what to do, but should do what those Whites do in their various countries, and also make the education of their citizens top priority.

The don, who noted that most universities in America and Europe were funded largely by the governments and other bodies to bring out their best, while they also established special schools for the most gifted students, but in the African continent, the governments shy away from such roles.

In his goodwill message at the occasion, the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, said Nigeria had pulled out two million out-of-school children back to school within a short period, assuring that before the end of this present administration, the other 18 million would all be finally pulled back to school.

Also speaking, the former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, called on African leaders to invest massively in the education of their children, noting that that was the only way to guarantee a secure and better future.

President Kenyatta also urged African leaders to ensure that the educational curricular were in line with other climes so that the continent would not be left behind.

In his goodwill message, the former governor of Anambra State, and presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in the 2023 presidential election, Peter Obi, said it was time for the African leaders to work their talk and put the continent in the right footing and perspective and stop the rhetoric.

Obi said the African leaders should provide their citizens with functional education, being the only way the people could be taken out of poverty.

“The time for talking is over. This is the time to work”, Obi declared. He thanked President Jonathan for championing this, leading in that direction, and for setting the tone for a free and fair election in the country.

In her brief remarks, Nigeria’s former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, noted that the talented children who were the focus of the keynote speaker, were found among the rich parents and the poor parents.

Mrs. Jonathan therefore submitted that efforts should be made to ensure that the process of selecting the gifted children was all inclusive to achieve the desired aim.

Speaking earlier, co-host of the event, Governor Godwin Obaseki noted that the state had been walking the talk through its EDOBEST programme. He commended President Jonathan for the dialogue, stating that it was a further confirmation of the former president’s love for the country

In his vote of thanks, the convener, President Jonathan, gave the rationale behind the setting up of the GIF, and called on the states of the federation to look out for states that are more endowed educationally to act as a model for development in the country.

Dignitaries at the event included the former President of Benin Republic, Yayi, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Shri G. Balasubramanian, and the deputy governors of Edo, Delta and Bayelsa States, among others.

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