IIE Networker - Spring 2013 - (Page 30)

UNIVERSITY INITIATIVES THAT PROMOTE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT Higher Education and Community Development: A Case Example from Nigeria By David Hannis and Nancy Hannemann KWARA STATE UNIVERSITY (KWASU) is a new, rurally based, state-funded university in Nigeria. Four years ago it did not exist; today it has 5,000 students. Situated about an hour’s drive from Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, the university campus is located next to the small community of Malete which is one of almost 50 villages which surround the university campus. Most of the inhabitants of these settlements derive their meager incomes from farming. The majority of local people are Muslim, and, despite the tensions found in other parts of Nigeria, Muslims and Christians live relatively harmoniously together in Kwara State. The periodic tensions that do flare up locally tend to be of the ‘town-versus-gown’ variety or between the Fulani cattle herdsmen and the local agriculturalists. Many university students and some staff have recently relocated to Malete, and some disagreements have surfaced around increased competition for water and injuries caused by traffic accidents. The tensions between the Fulanis and Yorubaspeaking farmers have chiefly involved allegations that the wandering herds of cows have caused damage to local crops and bee hives. From the outset, KWASU took pride in proclaiming itself to be “the University for Community Development.” In addition to establishing six distinct academic colleges, the university also set up a number of specialist centres, including the Centre for Innovation and International Studies (CIIS) and the Centre for Community Development (CCD). CIIS has played a pivotal role in developing international partnerships, promoting intercultural competence and knowledge of global issues, facilitating staff training, spearheading student study-abroad opportunities and supporting international staff for short- and long-term stays. CCD has been involved in some institutional capacity-building activities, although its primary focus been on engaging with local communities to discover practical ways of reaching the UN Millennium Development Goals. 30 All academic staff at KWASU are required to commit to some degree of community service, which is noted when promotions are considered. CCD staff have been instrumental in arranging for university staff to share their expertise with local schools. Similarly, KWASU operates a student employment program through which students are given the opportunity to work for up to 20 hours a week—within the university community itself or in one of the many surrounding villages. Research, scholarship, the advancement of knowledge and the implementation of effective adult education strategies are central concerns for all universities, including KWASU. However, from the very beginning this new university has endeavored to avoid the traditional ivory tower syndrome by undertaking action research projects likely to bring immediate benefit to local communities. To date, 18 small-scale action research projects have been initiated at KWASU, including several initiatives designed to enhance skills, to improve agricultural productivity and elevate farm incomes, to raise health standards, and to encourage more environmentally sustainable practices. These research initiatives are typically problem based and require researchers to actively collaborate with local communities to find effective ways of meeting real life problems. These small-scale research initiatives have benefitted local communities, as well as the researchers themselves. One major challenge facing university academic staff in Nigeria is the lack of fully developed research competence. While these action research projects are no effective substitute for the essential training necessary to develop competence in more advanced pure and applied research techniques, they can serve as an initial training ground where rudimentary skills can be enhanced. KWASU’s Centre for Community Development has played an important role in assisting the university to achieve its mandate as the university for community development. In carrying out its work, the CCD has sought practical ways of implementing the UN Millennium Development Goals at the local level. The various skills-acquisition activities facilitated by the center—including soap making, catfish farming, honey production, traditional weaving, batik making and adult literacy—have all been practical attempts to increase income levels, reduce poverty and empower women. The most successful of these initiatives has been the soap-making training, Kwara State University Lecturer Felicia Olooto speaks to villagers about a proposed action research initiative to produce small scale water purifiers using locally made ceramic filters. www.iie.org/iienetworker http://www.iie.org/iienetworker

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2013

A Message from Allan E. Goodman
News
2013 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education
IIENetworker Minister of Education Interview Series
Higher Education and Diff erent Notions of Development
Advancing Development Through International Partnerships
Developing a Gender Studies Program in Georgia
Higher Education and Community Development
The University of Cologne’s Capacity-Building Project in Myanmar
Promoting International Development by Collaborating with Industry
International Development and Higher Education
Harnessing the Power of Women with Disabilities
Community College Global Partnerships Bring Local Benefi ts
Building vs. Being
Higher Education and Development through Cultural Relations
The Institute of International Education’s Work in Iraq and Myanmar
Re-Envisioning Internationalization
Advertisers Index

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