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Don advocates study of Ifa, witchcraft in universities

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An African intellectual legend and Professor of History, Toyin Falola, has advocated the study of Ifa and witchcraft as courses combined with science and economics, leading to the award of degree certificates in Nigerian universities.

He also recommended the use of indigenous languages to teach and interact among lecturers and students, irrespective of their courses of study in the universities.

Prof Falola, the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair at the University of Texas at Austin, made these recommendations at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka, where he delivered the 54th Convocation lecture on Monday. He spoke on “Decolonising African Higher Education for Transformational Development.”

According to him, the African educational system, as created by the colonial authorities, was not orchestrated for enlightenment nor the advancement and benefits of the colonies but to achieve colonial masters’ economic and governance ambitions and aspirations. He noted that even after political independence, African education is still designed to perpetuate and advance the economic and political objectives of European countries, using the elites to facilitate such.

He said that since African education, both in curricular design and administrative frameworks, largely depends on Western academic norms and practices, the knowledge and information received from such a system would be challenging to substantially develop the African continent. According to him, information, knowledge, and ideas acquired from the school system rooted in colonial ideology would need to be decolonized before leading to a process where people-focused development that transforms life meaningfully could be achieved.

The don pointed out that there have been series of discussions and efforts in Africa channeled towards decolonization of African education, such as Afrikology theory challenging Western epistemologies and methodologies, but they are yet to take the continent to a place of prominence globally.

While making reference to both minimum academic benchmarks, BMAS and CCMAS, for Nigerian universities as designed by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 2004 and 2023 respectively, the guest lecturer said it was not as if both minimum benchmarks are not relevant, but they advance neoliberal standards in Nigerian education.

He urged NUC as a regulatory body to give more freedom to universities to design their curricula based on their peculiarities.

He also urged relevant governments to pay university workers salaries that will enable them to live decent lives. He said it is not compulsory that university workers who are on the same grade level should earn the same salaries nationwide, arguing that their salaries could vary based on the cost of living in their locations.

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