THE OBAFEMI AWOLOWO CENTENNIAL – GRAND FINALE
‘FREE EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: 55 YEARS ON’
- ‘Education is that process of physical and mental culture whereby a man’s personality is developed to the fullest’ (Chief Ọbafẹmi Awolọwọ, 1947)
- ‘To educate the children and enlighten the illiterate adults is to lay a solid foundation not only for future social and economic progress but also for political stability.’ (AWO, the autobiography, 1960)
- ‘...at every stage of human development or advancement, the moving spirits are invariably the men of education, science and technology. The more of them a country has, the brighter are its prospects for rapid economic progress, for social justice and for political stability.’ (Chief Ọbafẹmi Awolọwọ, 16th January 1980)
RATIONALE FOR THE CONFERENCE
- Chief Awolọwọ is probably best known for his passionate advocacy for the education of every Nigerian as a guaranteed strategy for development. For him, ‘every individual Nigerian constitutes the supreme economic potential which this country possesses.’ This would be a most fitting way to round off the year-long centennial Celebrationss in his honour.
- The right to education: Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit... Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality.’
- The Millennium Development Goals aim to spur development by improving social and economic conditions in the world's poorest countries. Although Goal 2 limits its aims to the achievement of universal primary education by 2015, Chief Awolọwọ was of the view that every Nigerian child must be offered the opportunity to achieve his/her full potential educationally. This view is borne out by Article 26 above. (MDG 2 also highlights the importance of the quality of education).
- The abysmal state of the Nigerian educational system, currently, appears to suggest the need to re-articulate and re-define the purposes of education so that appropriate measures can be put in place regarding content, partners, beneficiaries, methodology, funding and other educational demands.