RESEARCH AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD A Keynote Address Presented by the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, to the 2010 CODAPNU Workshop at the University of Ilorin on October 26, 2010 OUTLINE Prolegomena Sources of knowledge Research Development National Development Universities at the Border of Development Research challenges of Nigerian universities The Way Forward Conclusion PROLEGOMENA Research derives from the Latin word ‘re-chercia’, which literally means “to seek”. Research means to search and search and search until solution is found to advance the course of development. It is the search for knowledge or any systematic investigation to establish facts. It is a systematic investigation of a phenomenon. “The illiterate men of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot LEARN, UNLEARN and RELEARN” – Alvin Toffler in The Third Wave. SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE There are several ways of deriving knowledge. Some of these include: Tenacity: what we know through basic beliefs of our daily lives Authority: what we know through what experts and authorities tell us. Intuition: What we know through reasoning Research: The process of proffering solutions to human problems through well-defined methods. It is a systematic way of learning to relearn and unlearn based on new insights deriving from knowledge. Research as the Difference As a result of Africans’ reliance on tenacity (“experience is the best teacher”), authority (“it is right because my father said so”) and reasoning (“what one knows not does not kill, you can eat it”) Africans lag behind. As a result of the Westerners’ research (“why do birds fly and human beings cannot? Why can’t human beings also fly?”), the Western nations develop and progress. Research as the Difference (contd.) Research leads to development. We have not been doing much research, therefore our development is stunted. With more research, our development will bloom. “There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are”Michael Dibdin’s novel, Dead Lagoon What are we? what are we not? What should we be? Development: what is it? Vilanilam (1979) rightly observed that ‘‘development means different things to different people (and that) its meaning varies according to the changes occurring in the social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, scientific and technological value of a given society.’’ Economists: increase in production, GDP and per capita income. Political scientists: improvement in resources through which power are equitably distributed. Sociologists: process achieved through structural differentiation, peace, order and social progress. Development: what is it? contd. “The ability of an individual to have greater control over his environment and increased realization of the values of the society, its political destiny and self discipline” ( Inayatullah, 1967) “A widely participatory process of social change in the society, intended to bring both social and material advancement (including greater equality, freedom and other valued qualities) for the majority of the people through their gaining control over their environment “(Rogers, 1976). Three Questions and National Development In order to establish that a country is developing or not, pertinent questions are desirable. Seers (1977) contended that in determining a country’s development, questions should be asked on: What is happening to poverty? What is happening to unemployment? What is happening to inequality? “If all three of these have declined from high levels, then beyond doubt this has been a period of development for the country concerned. If one or two of these central problems have been growing worse, especially if all three have, it would be strange to call the result ‘‘development’’ even if per capita income doubled” (Seers, 1977) Is Nigeria Developing? Poverty rate has worsened from about 45% in 1970 to nearly 70% in 2009. This shows that nearly 70% of our people live below $1 a day. According to the 2010 Global Monitoring Report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), about 92% of Nigerians survive on less than $2 daily while about 71% survive on less than $1 a day. This means that two Nigerians’ income is equal to the daily feeding of a cow in Europe. The rate of unemployment has worsened in the last 10 years from about 15% in 2003 to at least 20% in 2009 in the total population reaching 40% among the youth. Life expectancy has deteriorated from 54 years in 1980 to 47 years in 2008. Is Nigeria Developing? (Contd.) “ A country that produces two million barrels of oil a day, has the seventh-largest natural gas reserves of any country in the world, but according to the United Nations, the poverty rate in Nigeria has gone up from 46 percent to 76 percent over the last 13 years... The most immediate source of the disconnect between Nigeria’s wealth and its poverty is a failure of governance at the local, state, and federal levels. And some of it is due, as you know so well, to corruption, others of it to lack of capacity or mismanagement.” Hillary Clinton, August 2009 (Nigerian Compass, 2009) Human Development Index 2009 Nigeria’s HDI Rank = 158. This is the last In the ‘Medium Human Development’ Category. Countries above Nigeria in this category included- 157 Uganda, 153 Cameroon, 152 Ghana,151 Tanzania, 150 Sudan, 149 Haiti, 147 Kenya,136 Congo, 129 South Africa ,128 Namibia,118 Equatorial Guinea. Global Hunger Report (GHI)2008- Nigeria is the 20th Hungriest of 118 hungriest nations (Aimiuwu, 2010) Universities at the Border of Development Why are universities as components of the higher education system established? There are four reasons: To inspire and enable individuals to develop their capabilities to the highest potential levels throughout life, so that they grow intellectually, are well equipped for work, can contribute effectively to society and achieve personal fulfillment; To increase knowledge and understanding for their own sake and to foster their application to the benefit of the economy and society; To serve the needs of an adaptable, sustainable, knowledge-based economy at local, regional and national levels; and To play a major role in shaping a democratic, civilised inclusive society. Universities at the Border of Development (contd.) The reasons all point towards a direction: development If these are the rationale behind universities, have Nigerian universities failed Nigeria? Why is it that 50 years after the commencement of university education in Nigeria, all indices of development go down while the number of universities go up? Fafunwa (2010) presents a gripping scenario: “Between 1960 and 1991, a period of 31 years, a total of 31 universities were established. That is to say, Nigeria was opening a university at the rate of one per year. A record that can hardly be surpassed by any other country. And as if this is not phenomenal enough, we now have 104 universities in 2010; that is 73 Universities established in 11 years at an average of 6 universities per year!” If universities are to create development, why is Nigeria not developed despite the current average of 6 universities per year? What is the missing link? The Missing Link. Universities are established for : Teaching: the primary role of universities is the transmission of knowledge and the training of minds. Research: The central role of universities is to conduct research that could lead to the advancement of knowledge and contribute directly and indirectly to economic progress and the quality of life. Community Service: universities serve as change agents by diffusing knowledge , skills and technology to the transformation of the society through enhancing the production of goods and services, better hygiene and improved efficiency. How much research have our universities been doing? Nigerian universities and research There is a yawning gap between universities and the quantum of research expected from them. According to Igwe (1990), only a limited amount of university research reaches a commercial state. Musa (1988) stressed that research in universities is mainly conceived in terms of publications and career development and tends to have little social relevance. While Kumoye and Igwe (1989) discovered that Nigeria has not developed revolutionary products and processes, despite claims of inventions and breakthroughs, Okigbo (1985) found that basic and applied research of Nigerian universities operate between 6% and 24% of national research capacity. These findings indicate that Nigerian universities perform below average if they are to contribute to national development. Challenges There are as many challenges facing research in Nigeria as there are challenges facing universities: Let me ask you the challenges facing Nigerian universities which ultimately hinder research: Poor research facilities Yes? Inadequate human resources Yes? Poor linkages with the production system Yes? Lack of funds Yes? Poor policies and lack of implementation Yes? Lack of motivation Yes? Yes? Yes? Yes? Yes? The Challenges are three We are good at identifying problems. But the challenges are not as many as we think. All the challenges can be said to be: Political Financial Attitudinal The Way Out The main problem confronting university education and research is lack of planning. We all know that to fail to plan is to plan to fail. I believe our esteemed Directors of Academic Planning have a huge task in articulating and driving the research efforts of their universities. As obtains in the University of Ilorin, research niches may be created through which specific projects can be focused on at a time. The Way Out (contd) If truth is constant, the way out of the situation has been carved last month in a Conference initiated by the University of Ilorin, jointly organised by the NUC and the AVCNU to mark the 50th year anniversary or 50 years of university education in Nigeria. Part of what the conference came out with, as relevant to this presentation, is as follows: Guidelines: “Nigeria at 50 Conference” IMPROVING RESEARCH QUALITY AND ENHANCING ITS RELEVANCE TO THE NATION The pursuit of research is what distinguishes universities from other types of tertiary institutions. Research is aimed at advancing the frontiers of knowledge, seeking solutions to major social and technical challenges, and providing materials for evidence-based decision-making. Quality research is that which conforms to rigorous, acceptable standards of scientific investigation appropriate to a discipline. Relevance refers to the extent to which the focus and results of research are responsive to societal developmental needs. One sure way of improving the quality and relevance of Research is to create an enabling academic environment on university campuses, an environment that can attract and retain a constellation of research scholars. This should go along with the provision of the technical and financial wherewithal for the conduct of quality research- targeted research funding in a sustainable manner, scientific and ICT equipment, library facilities, etc. Facilities for research production should also go along facilities for research dissemination and the sharing of results – travel and conference attendance facilities, journal and electronic publication outlets, etc Guidelines: “Nigeria at 50 Conference” Efforts to generalise the practice of collaborative research in different forms will have to be intensified. This includes collaboration within and across disciplines and areas of study, in the course of which mentoring and capacity building for young researchers is enforced. It also includes a lot more, extending to university-government agencies, university-industry, universitydevelopment agency, university-big business, university-small scale business, university-civil society collaboration. The field to be explored in this regard is quite vast and universities must rise up to the challenge. Above everything else, it would be necessary to give directions to university research. One way of doing this is the development of institutional research agendas that can percolate to all academic constituent units of a university. The development of such agendas is best done as a collaborative participatory exercise that brings research producers in mutually benefitting contacts with the potential end-users of research results. Suggestions in literature Universities should emphasise their capabilities Research in universities should be need-based; what does the market need? Grant researchers autonomy to establish direct links with industries Universities should hold regular workshops and seminars for industry in order to disseminate their findings and discuss applicability. Government and institutions should give incentives to quality research and good collaborative research endeavours. Suggestions in literature Contd. There should be staff-exchange programmes between industry and universities Clear-cut research policies should be formulated and implemented Lecturers should be seconded to industries for short periods. Joint university-industry research appraisal panels/committees should be set up. Conclusion The onus of accelerating research in our universities to achieve national development lies in the academic planning units. Our directors should be innovative, creative and pro-active. They should serve as the engine room of their universities. They should generate ideas and be the catalysts of the required change. My belief is that the challenges are surmountable if we plan. We can in fact convert our challenges to strength if we plan properly. Appreciation Thank you very much. You are a wonderful audience! REFERENCES Aimiuwu, L.E.A. 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