By Ayobami Agboola, Osogbo
Gender equality and access to higher education are important factors in building a sustainable world.
This was the position of a Professor from Harvard University, USA , Professor Jacob Kehinde Olupona, at the 9th convocation lecture of Fountain University, Osogbo, Osun state capital.
The university don who spoke on the topic: “Shifting the Tide: The Promises and Challenges of Higher Education in Nigeria” said gender disperity in Nigerian higher education has serious effect on the general situation of women’s education within the larger context of national social development goal.
He argued that for society to succeed in its social development goals, there was the need to carry women along and make them partners in all the enterprises, especially in education.
According to him, Nigerian universities must take a hard look at marginalised status of women faculty in the educational sector, especially as it concerns women faculty in the university.
He further explained that the dearth of women in the academy is a reflection of the national culture, which relegates women to the background and underutilizes women’s potential in spite of their struggle for excellence.
Professor Olupona said: “If we wish to succeed in our social development goals , we must challenge our patriarchy culture to make women equal partners in all our enterprises, and especially in education.
“How the neglect of women’s affairs in higher education contexts has affected the general system should be looked into in depth. Our history shows that women have, against all odds left enviable records of achievement worth emulating today.
“Women from both the private and public sectors who are passionate about higher education must come together and take the lead in charging a new course for women so that we can transform higher education in this country.”
Describing women as special gifts from God , Prof Olupona said all hands must be on deck to ensure that the women are empowered with entrepreneurial skills, leadership qualities and creative insight , saying this would harnest to move the country forward.
He added that Nigerian government needs to pay special attention to address the deficits that have prevented Nigeria from reaching the global benchmark when it comes to women’s education.
The Harvard University Professor said most of problems that women face in high education are tied to the absence of women leaders in the academy.
He added that women are under-represented in University administration as can be seen in the paucity of women in key position such as chancellorships , Vice Chancellorships and pro chancellorships, saying all these should be rectified.
He decried the low ratio of women to men as lecturers , charging the Ministry of Education and Council of Universities to correct what he described as injustice so that the voice of women can be heard.
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