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Archive for January, 2012

I recently read ‘Why Are You Here’ by award winning writer, Chimamada Adichie, in Guernica. The brilliantly written article on branding, charity, and class in Nigeria’s schools brought once again to the fore the sorry state of public education in Nigeria; and the widening disparity between the fates of children trained in public schools and their more fortunate counterparts who were lucky to have been born to rich parents who can afford private schools here at home and abroad.

The fact that activities at federal universities all over the country had been grounded for over a month due to a strike action by the Academic Staff of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) makes this sad reality even more jarring. ASUU has gained notoriety over the years for elongating the years of study of many students of government owned universities through its endless industrial actions. The association claims it is fighting to for increased funding for universities and better conditions of service. In many ways, the fight is more of the latter than the former. One of the demands for which they are currently on strike is for an extension of the retirement age of academic staff from 65 years to 70.

 

In response to this demand, the Nigeria Senate last week passed a bill amending the retirement age as demanded. The bill states in part that “The compulsory retiring age of academics in the professional cadre in the universities shall be 70 years. The law requiring a person to retire from the public service after serving 35 years shall not apply to academic staff of tertiary institutions”.

While thousands of anxious students and their parents wait to see if the new law is enough to get the lecturers to return to class, I find it apt to share some thought on the new law and what impacts (or not) this will have on the standards of education in our nations tertiary institutions.

While it is not in question that mentally and physically sound professors can still be productive and very beneficial to the system at 70 and beyond, there remains an incontrovertible fact that once academics in Nigeria attain the exulted position of a professor, they relapse into declining productivity. I have not read the full details of the new law but I would hope that the lawmakers had the sense to include a clause that attaches the enjoyment of the longer period of service to measurable productivity, research advancement and successful supervision of postgraduate supervision.

Being someone who passed through this system as a student, I am well aware of the politics, rivalry and bickering that associates the award of professorship. The quest to attain the position and enjoy the pecks thereof has led to a situation where staff members go to every length (even circumventing ethics and acceptable decent principles) to publish and accumulate academic papers – some of which contribute nothing whatsoever to existing knowledge – while constituting themselves into factions all of which does not necessarily have any positive impact on their students.

With standards declining on a daily basis and with this new law in place, one can only expect that it would now be an even fiercer fight to finish in the race to become a professor going forward.

More so, some commentators have argued that the only reason why professors wish to stay longer in the schools is simply to have more years to sell their poorly authored reading materials and coerce more female students into bed with them. This group argues that currently the professors were not adding so much value as some of them still exist in the past, teaching outdated ideas to 21st century students and thus there was no need to keep them on beyond 65 by law.

Increased years of service do not translate into extended period of productivity. It is important therefore that while we continue to demand for increased funding of education by government, its regulators such as the NUC must come up with precise criteria for measuring performance among academics as well as the triggers for the reward process.  Academics should and must focus on teaching and research and make the best of their productive years contributing to knowledge and advancing their fields of learning. This is the only way we can get to change the sorry state of education in the country.

Published in Daily Times Nigeria Jan 24, 2012

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Africa Reading Challenge.

This is novel and sounds like fun. Something to really push the lukewarm readers around and for those who think they read, something to test how good they are. Accidentally, this fits just right with my reading plans for the year. But there is more, this will make me seek out and read great books from other parts of Africa this year. So i am signing up and inviting you to do as well.

Click Here for details

Good luck.

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You Lazy (Intellectual) African Scum!.

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dad n meMy father has always been a huge figure in my life and has been there through all the happy and not so happy times in my life. Since I started blogging, I have really never written anything solely dedicated to him. It feels apt to do so today on his birthday, to tell the world how truly awesome he is.

As his first child, you would have thought that I would have been pampered. Not in the world. Daddy was always firm and strict. As a teacher, to whose care other parents had entrusted their children, there was no way his own child would be undisciplined. He taught me the enduring lessons of hard work and sincerity, of humility and dedication. He introduced me to God and told me how it was important to love and treat every other person with fairness and equity. I have seen him sacrifice a lot for me and my siblings to live a better life than he did.  He had other career dreams for me but has nonetheless shown his support for my writing and other varying interests. Above all, he is a loving husband to my Mum and a most carrying father to his 4 children and an endless list of nieces, nephews, cousins, former students and proteges. I am so proud to share his name.

No birthday cards, wishes, greetings or messages can express in words the amount of love and respect I have for you Dad. There are some memories in life that remain for a short time while others stick with you forever. I cherish all the times I’ve spent with you and they are going to remain sweet memories for the rest of my life.

Here’s my humble attempt at giving you a very warm greeting on this special day. Happy Birthday, dear dad. May this be the beginning of yet another wonderful year in your life. I love you and will always work to make you proud!

Your Son,

Nnagozie Chikwenze Sylva.

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Welcome to the New Year. Wait a minute, that’s stale right? I really must be running behind time. I really should turn my calendar and reset my wrist watch. I am still working on a project that should have been finished many months ago. Ah, truth be told, I am yet to start it. Been thinking and planning it in my head but isn’t there always just too many things begging for attention? Oh I had plans for January 2012, what were they again? Oops the red light on my blackberry is blinking again, I am sorry I need to respond to that.

Never managed to take that bold step last year, you know, that one that requires my kneeling on one knee and looking up to her with flirty eyes, my lips asking questions, the answer of which I am sure of. Don’t blame me, the times were simply not right. Ah these dents on my car, the one caused by the lunatic danfo driver with marks on both sides of his face like evidence of a brawl with a tiger. I really never made it to the panel beater to beat it out, I should make out time to do that. I dread checking my e-mails these days, the guilt that unfulfilled email request gives me is overwhelming. I think I should create a new account.

I would have to pass this publishing opportunity. Ah, If only I concentrated on writing that novel. Well wasn’t my fault. 2011 saw many great movies in the Cinema and you know I needed to update the part of my memory where I record movies seen. May be I shouldn’t have created that twitter account, sigh! See now, that’s the first place I go to when I wake up. Don’t ask me if I still pray at dawn. Don’t blame me, blame all those interesting gossip I am too weak to ignore.

My pay slip is a joke. Frankly, if I show it to you, you will jump off the third mainland with laughter. And those employers of mine assured me of a raise last year. I waited confidently. So I emptied my savings. Now…sigh! I am punching my calculator and scratching my head, what if I had invested it? And there was this fantastic opportunity I passed. It wasn’t altogether a wow opportunity if you know what I mean, so I ignored it. I am pessimistic like that sometimes. But ah, I drove past that shop the other day, see how they’ve expanded. Gosh, I nearly ran into a car looking and biting my fingers.

You must think me a failure right? Well I am not alone in all this. Imagine the Super Eagles, I even fared better than them. Failure in multiples. That reminds me, next month the African Cup of Nations begins. I am still to repair my DSTV dish o. Some nasty wind last year blew away a part of it. Just never found the time to replace it. Wait a minute, did I say next month? Oh my, I really must turn my calendar and reset my watch. It’s January 2012 already, the Nations Cup begins this month. I wonder where time is always running to. I want to speak to whoever is in charge of time, a very simple appeal really; can you place time in slow motion mode please? Just for a month so I can catch up.

What have I been going on about you must be wondering. It’s very simply; Ask her out. Book that flight. Take that course. Apply for that job. Write the damn book. Get your funding. Make up with your Dad. Resume your exercise routine. Launch that startup. Take that risk. Your tithe doesn’t work magic, forget that your pastor says it does. You need to get off your ass and do the thing that needs doing. Today not tomorrow. If it fails, it fails. If it works, it works. For like Steve Jobs once said “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life”  Are you still thinking? Hey, it’s the second week already, fifty weeks left.

Picture credit http://cool-collections-cool.blogspot.com/2011/11/huge-collection-of-new-year-2012.html

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Here as we start a new year today, i wish to take out time to thank all of you who take time off to visit my blog and read my posts and all those who have left comments or have shared the post they liked with others. This year we made a huge leap…from just over 9000 visits in 2010 to over 13,000 in 2011. Lets do it again…and even better. I love you all. Have a fantastic new year.

Below is the review of the blog in 2011 prepared by the great guys at wordpress!

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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