gifted children's education,

Ugandan varsity don tasks African leaders on gifted children’s education  

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The Chief Academic Officer of Maarifa Education Holding and Chairman of University Council, Cavendish University, Uganda, Professor Olubayi Olubayi, on Thursday, charged African leaders to pay more and special attention to the education of the gifted children, otherwise known as geniuses, in the continent if the continent must grow and develop like the advanced nations of the world.

Olubayi suggested that the feat could be achieved if deliberate efforts were made to build at least one special school for the extremely gifted and talented children in every part of the African countries to measure up with other parts of the world.

The professor, who delivered the keynote address at the third edition of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) Democracy Day Dialogue 2024, held at the Sir Victor Uwaifo Creative and Entertainment Hub, Benin City, Edo State capital, cautioned that African leaders must stop doing what the Western nations asked them to do but do exactly what the advanced nations do to advance their continents.

The theme of the dialogue, “Functional Education and Effective Political Leadership as a Panacea to Africa’s Growth and Development”, the university don noted was apt, as the African continent had been held back from implementing the policy directives of the Western world while neglecting those elements that could enhance developments in the continent.

According to him, while Africa joined the remaining continents of the world to subscribe to the notion that all children must be given the opportunity to be educated, the African continent, he regretted, failed to subscribe to the second notion that all specially gifted children must be isolated and developed so that they could use their innate intelligence to develop their various countries.

Reeling out statistics, Olubayi lamented that while the advanced countries subsidised their educational systems, the same countries encouraged African leaders to cut off subsidies on education, research and discoveries. This was just as he added that all the 54 African countries with over 1.5 billion population, could not meet up with the scientific discoveries of Israel, which he said amounted to over 17,000 with patent rights.

Quoting from V.S. Naipupaul’s A Bend in the River, to wit: “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing have no place in it”,  Prof. Olubayi, submitted that if African continent must also make progress, it must not wait for Whites to tell them what to do, but should do what those Whites do in their various countries, and also make the education of their citizens top priority.

Olubayi disclosed that most universities in America and Europe were funded largely by the governments and other bodies to bring out their best, just as they established special schools for the most gifted students but in the African continent, the governments shy away from such roles.

He said the absence of funding and setting up of special schools for these gifted students, hampered research and technological drive in the continent, adding that by the available data, Nigeria, with a 220 million population, had just 16 discoveries. 

In his goodwill message at the occasion, the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, said that Nigeria had pulled two million out-of-school children back to school within a short period, assuring that before the end of this present administration, the other 18 million would all be finally pulled back to school. 

Also speaking, the former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, called on African leaders to invest massively in the education of their children, noting that that was the only way to guarantee a secure and better future. 

President Kenyatta also urged African leaders to ensure that the educational curricula were in line with other climes so that the continent would not be left behind.

 In his goodwill message, the former governor of Anambra State, and presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in the 2023 presidential election, Mr. Peter Obi, said it was time for the African leaders to work their talk and put the continent in the right footings and perspective and stop the rhetoric.

He said the African leaders should provide their citizens with functional education, adding that that was the only way the people could be taken out of poverty.

“The time for talking is over. This is the time to work”, Obi declared, just as he thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for championing this leading in that direction, and for setting the tone for a free and fair election in the country.

In her brief remarks, the former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, noted that the talented children, who were the focus of the keynote speaker, were found among the rich parents and the poor parents.

 Mrs. Jonathan therefore submitted that efforts should be made to ensure that the process of selecting the gifted children was all-inclusive to achieve the desired aim.

Speaking earlier, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State noted that the state had been working on the talk through its EDOBEST programme. He commended President Jonathan for the dialogue, adding that it was a further confirmation of the former president’s love for the country

In his votes of thanks, former President Goodluck Jonathan gave the rationale behind the setting up of the GIF and called on the states of the federation to look out for states that are more endowed educationally to act as a model for the development in the country.

Dignitaries at the event included the former President of Benin Republic, Yayi, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Balasubramanian, and the deputy governors of Edo, Delta and Bayelsa States, among others. 

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