The development of a nation is tied to its investment in education, the founding Vice Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria, Professor Olugbemiro Jegede, has declared.
He made the declaration on Saturday while delivering the 32nd convocation lecture of the West Africa Theological Seminary, WATS.
WATS is a non-denominational seminary.
It was founded by an American, Prof Gary Maxey.
Jegede spoke on the topic, “The Role of Technology Enhanced Learning in Improving Content and Context of Theological Education in Africa.”
In the course of the lecture, he touched on many indices of development warning that any nation that did not give priority to education could not attain any meaningful height.
He said, “There is a clear and direct relationship between a country’s development, economic progress, and education offered to its people.
“Illiteracy, poverty, and low development indices have roots in low level of education. Today, more than ever, the main wealth source is knowledge. The global economy is being transformed from a material-based economy to a knowledge-based economy.”
While noting that education is the universally acclaimed propelling power of any development in any nation, he said, “the thermometre to measure the development of any country is its education.”
Quoting two former world leaders, Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Paulo Freire, a Brazillian Marxist, Jegede said “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated. Education does not change the world. Education changes people, people change the world.”
He, however, said imparting knowledge is no longer done the old way.
“You need to research every day. The teacher must also realise that the attention span is no longer more than 30 minutes so the content and the delivery have to be interactive and up to date.”
The NOUN emeritus professor further told the graduating students that they must not rest on their oars, adding that their degrees only had about five years life span.
He said, “Be warned, the degree you will receive later today has a use-by-date of less than five years. In fact, we are told that the half-life of all the knowledge we have in our brains is only 18 months. Without going back to school and learning daily, you will quickly be out of date earlier than you think. Moreover, in today’s world, a first degree now measures no more like the West African School Certificate of some decades ago. You must make it a point of duty, even at great discomfort to yourself and your family, to acquire more knowledge on a daily basis through several channels including, of course, the ubiquitous internet.”
For the seminarians, he noted that they had been called to a special duty for the Lord.
“You are going into the field to harvest souls for God Almighty. You would agree with me that while you have your job cut out for you, you have a leadership role to play in evangelisation of this nation and the rest of West Africa and the world at large.”
He stressed that graduating students needed much more than the daily acquisition of knowledge to deal with all life issues.
“You require a daily walk with God to skillfully meander through the obstacles and challenges of life. Just as you relied heavily on faith while you were beginning this programme at WATS, you require faith in more than double dose to deal with the world.”
Jegede who said he built his own website by himself in 1995 then underscored the importance of technology.
He urged the WATS community to embrace technology and deploy it for the emancipation of humanity.
He said all available technological tools should be used in learning adding that any preacher of the gospel disdaining technology is living in the past.
Rather than discourage people from using the internet, preachers according to him should rather encourage its use for Bible references during their sermons so that their congregation will not be distracted while the message is being preached.
He praised the effort of the founder of WATS, Professor Gary Maxey, describing him as an instrument of change who listens to God for direction.
Jegede expressed great delight at the humongous intellectual and theological resources in the WATS community.
He urged the authorities to invest in digitalising the resources.
Earlier at the event, the Chairman, Governing Council of the seminary, Dr. Emmanuel Oluwayemi, noted that the seminary had survived all odds till date.
He expressed confidence that the seminary had a great future adding that the graduating students were trained to serve not to be served.
WATS founder, Prof Maxey, expressed similar sentiment adding that 2023 holds a lot of hope for the seminary.
The Acting Provost of WATS, Dr Tosin Awolalu, expressed confidence in the calibre of graduates produced by the institution.
He charged the graduating students to be worthy ambassadors of the school.
He said the institution committed to its holiness creed and its resolve to cause a revolution in the lives of people through the instrument of theological education.
A total number of 66 students graduated from the foremost theological institute of learning.
The breakdown of graduands is as follows: B.A. Theology (40); Postgraduate Dip. (4); M.A. Christian Leadership (5); M.A. Biblical Studies (3); M.A. Christian Education (4); M.A. Intercultural Studies (2); Master of Divinity (8); and Doctor of Ministry (1).