Monday, 4 January 2010

Online lab experiments come to OAU

Three African universities and an American college have partnered an online laboratory project that will expand the range of experiments possible to science and engineering students.
The Internet Laboratories (iLabs) project — real laboratories accessed through the Internet — was initiated by Faculty of Technology, Makerere University. It will be implemented in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Obafemi Awolowo University and Dar es Salaam University in Tanzania.
Prof. Stevens Sandy Tickodri, the acting deputy Vice Chancellor of Makerere, said iLabs project would enrich learning experience by availing remote experimentation platform for students and researchers.
Ugandan universities offering science and engineering courses will, for the first time offer students practical lessons online.
“There is need for change in science education in institutes of higher learning, as the traditional and strictly theoretical approach does not engage or train students adequately,” said Tickodri.

Oloyede is Nigeria’s best VC – Northern Students

Rising from a recent meeting in Markudi, Benue State, the North Central States Students’ Association of Nigeria (NOCSSAN), has pronounced the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede, as the ‘Best Performing Vice-Chancellor’ in the country.
According to Ibrahim Alih, NOCSSAN president, Oloyede is a role model in university governance. “The performance indices of the don within the last few years are unparallel and unequalled across the whole country.”
“His use of available resources to provide basic amenities for the benefits of staff and students is highly appreciated by the association and it goes a long way to demonstrate his dreams and aspirations for our country,” he said.
“Undoubtedly, Oloyede has maintained peaceful and uninterrupted academic calendar, provided world class students’ hostels, renovated and beautified facilities, improved manpower and skills development, enabled the computerisation of students’ assessment such as Computer Based Test for post UME and regular students.”
Alih further stated that the association voted Oloyede the “Man of the year” because of his resourcefulness, which is a challenge to all serving Vice-Chancellors to effect positive changes in their schools.

UK group donates N2.1m books to FIIRO
A UNITED Kingdom-based pro-education group, Centre for African Resources Research and Development centre (CARRD) has donated books worth over N2 million to the Federal Institute for Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO).
The books, which also included some international journals, covered disciplines such as Organic Chemistry, Mechanics, Engineering, Applied Mathematics and Statistics.
Making the donation, the group’s representative in Nigeria, Mr. Abidemi Ajani, said the gesture was in furtherance of CARRD’s objective of promoting educational development in Africa and in countries where funding of education is hampered by poor economy. Ajani said FIIRO was the first research institute to benefit from the group’s resource assistance.
The choice of FIIRO, according to Ajani, was because of its strategic position as “the foremost research institute in Nigeria.” The group’s representative further stated that the gesture was part of efforts to help FIIRO fulfil its strategic national goal of promoting industrialisation and technology in the country.
Receiving the books, FIIRO Director-General, Dr. Oluwole Olatunji commended the group, especially its commitment to not just intellectualism but also to industrialisation and technological development of the country, through the promotion of research. Dr. Olatunji was also of the view that the books would be very useful in the training

Nigerians find unlikely education at Ukraine universitie
By Terrell Starr
Ukraine is not the first country that comes to mind for many African students wanting to study abroad. It certainly wasn’t for Jessica Oladejo, a third year medical student of O.O. Bogomolets National Medical University, Kiev, the capital city. In fact, the 20-year-old lady had never heard of Ukraine, a former republic of the fallen Union of Soviet Social Republic (USSR), until she considered attending a medical school in Ghana.
As Oladejo was deciding whether to attend the school, she learnt through some of her mother’s friends that the professors, who would teach her there, studied in Ukraine during the USSR era. “I was asked, ‘Why I have to go to Ghana to study, when the lecturers there studied in the former Soviet Union,’ So, instead of going to Ghana to learn from them, why don’t I just go to the Soviet Union and learn from the source?”
Oledejo is one of the 5,000 African students currently matriculating in universities across Ukraine, according to African Centre, a non-governmental organization, which tracks racial discrimination against Africans as well as their migration patterns in the country.
The Soviet government aggressively started awarding scholarships to African students willing to study in their country in 1957, which coincided with Ghana’s Independence. But with the death of communism in USSR in 1991, this generosity stopped. While Ukraine no longer offers the financial incentives it once did during communism, it’s still an appealing country for students like Oladejo.
One, it’s easier for Africans to get Ukrainian visa than that of any country in Europe. Tuition fees in Ukrainian Universities are also much cheaper than institutions in Britain or the United States. However, the financial and logistical advantages of matriculating in Ukraine aren’t without their social challenges.
In 2007, eight racially motivated murders occurred in Ukraine, according to African Centre. The murders continued into 2009 with some of the victims being African students. However, such incidents have ebbed as of late. To Ukraine’s credit, the national parliament recently passed anti-racism legislation, which made the crime to significantly dropped according to African NGOs that track racial incidents.
Surprisingly, many students say they had no prior knowledge of Ukraine’s xenophobia issues before arriving. One common complaint is that of being accosted with racial slurs and other demeaning language by Ukrainian youths on the streets.
Joshua Moses, a 21-year-old medical student from Akwanga, Nigeria, was on Nigerian government scholarship to study medicine in Ukraine. He said he enjoys living here although it’s not uncommon for him and his African classmates to be called ‘monkey’ and other names while walking around the capital. His response? “I just look at them and laugh because they know not what they do,” Moses said, borrowing a line from Jesus.
Nasir Abubakar, also a medical student from Nigeria, can’t recall experiencing any blatant racism during his two years stay. But Abubakar, 21, admits the stares and giggles he gets from Ukrainians while walking on the street, many of whom may have never seen or had contact with a black person before, which do make him a bit uncomfortable.

Calabar: Is This Nigeria?

By Mohammed Bas
As a young child growing-up in a heterogeneous slum in the ancient city of Kaduna, I have been so much filled with theories about Calabar, the Calabarians and Calabarism that I thought I know all about the city that pride itself as the cleanest in Nigeria. Of all the theories stuck into my childish brain then, three interested me most and formed the basis upon which I perceive and interact with anything or anybody associated with Cal-a-bar.
The first and most interesting of the three theories was that the most delicious delicacy in Nigeria is in Calabar. This aspect of Calabar interested me then, because as a child, my stomach is my number one priority. The assertion that every Calabar lady is a beauty to be behold also interested me because my restrictive upbringing did not afford me much time to explore the beauty of some Katafawans in my neighbourhood. Another theory, though not palatable was their mythical cannibalistic acts.
My earlier pre-knowledge of Calabar, its people and cultural practice was though the usual dem-say-dem-say channel, yet, it had a profound effect on my disposition and attitude to my present place of domicile. Reason being that I love the Calabarians on account of the first two theories, but I have a tactical resentment for Calabar on account of the third theory, which is Cannibalism. With this mixed feelings, I grow up to love and hate Calabar.
It was therefore not surprising that I received my NYSC posting to Cross River State with double mind. I came in contact with Calabar three weeks after I arrived Cross River State because I alongside other members posted to Cross River spent three weeks in the ancient, but remote town of Obubra undergoing orientation for the national service.
My prior jaundiced view of Calabar began to change immediately I stepped into the capital city of the state that pride itself as the people’s paradise. The first attitude charger was the cleanliness that pervaded the entire city. So clean was the city that I found it hard to drop a biscuit wrapper in the street! The second attitude changer was the warmness and courteous imbibed and exhibited by every Calabarians, I came across. The third and the most fascinating attitude charger was the high level of personal hygiene among them. At first, I thought their culture of neatness to be an eye service, but my personal investigation proved otherwise because the cleanness of the Calabarians reflected in all their dealings.
It was this astonishing discovery that forced me to ask a fellow Corps member this, “it this Nigeria or are we in another country?” The fellow gave me the must-appropriate-response. “We are definitely in the cleanest city in Nigeria.”
I also took time to reflect on the third theory about the Calabarians and conclude that maybe somebody somewhere has mistaken Calabarism for Cannibalism. Or is it possible for man-eaters to find a place in a city, so, hospitable and clean as Calabar? For me, the answer

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