Though he is 70, Professor Olugbemiro Jegede still carries on with the gait of a youth versed in contemporary trends in communication and information technology. For over one hour on Saturday, December 10, Jegede, who is the founding Vice Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria held his listeners spellbound.
He was the guest lecturer at the 32nd convocation ceremony of the West Africa Theological Seminary. He not only lightened the hall with his incisive delivery but also used the occasion to pass on some eternal truth for which the WATS community would forever be grateful.
Jegede’s years of experience in academia and his global exposure were evident in the lecture and even in the way it was delivered. He spoke on the topic: “The Role of Technology Enhanced Learning in Improving Content and Context of Theological Education in Africa”
More than a lecture
Beyond the lecture, he touched virtually on all other critical areas of life ranging from theology, day-to-day living, morality, and science.
Though he was in WATS for the first time, he betrayed deep knowledge of the seminary giving critical details that were perhaps lost to those in the community.
Within his short stay, he had gone to survey the school’s library and other facilities. He wondered why an institution of WATS status is not getting all the support it needed.
“There are mind-blowing documents and books in the library. There is no reason why the place should not be a tourist centre. By now the school should be working towards digitalising some of the materials in the library so that they would not be lost.” he counseled.
Professor Jegede’s credentials
Jegede earned his first degree in Science Education at Ahmadu Bello University in 1975. By 1981 at the age of 29, he earned his doctorate degree from the University of Wales, Cardiff, UK. He became the youngest professor of education in Nigeria at 37 in 1989.
By the time he completed his tenure as the founding Vice Chancellor of NOUN, he had developed the university to the position of the 7th best university in Nigeria by the Webometric global ranking of universities
He is a self-taught ICT expert and was the first Vice Chancellor in Africa to introduce the use of online platforms in students’ management, instructional design, and in e-examination.
Jegede had made several landmarks and significant contributions to education and the development of knowledge including this theory of collateral learning propounded in 1975.
This theory along with other of his publications has been cited over 6000 times in global scientific literature in the last count. Jegede has been studied by over 36 doctoral graduates worldwide.
His thoughts on education indeed are not to be taken for granted.
Use of technology
The former NOUN VC gave practical tips on how technology could be deployed in both the seminary and the church.
He reasoned for instance that pastors should not discourage their members from using their phones to read the Bible.
He said one of the ways to engage church people is to tell them to use their phones for Bible references as the message is being preached. “By doing that, nobody will be using their phone for any other thing because they know they could be called anytime to read the scripture.”
Priority to education
In the course of the lecture, he touched on many indices of development warning that any nation that does not give priority to education cannot 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 a 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 Feire, 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 do 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 use of disruptive technologies according to him “will engender a situation where learners will take increasing control of their learning. It will also cause a situation where the curriculum must change from what we know it to be.”
The NOUN emeritus professor further told the graduating students that they must not rest on their oars adding that their degrees only have 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. More over 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 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 have 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 the evangelisation of this nation and the rest of West Africa and the world at large.”
He said the graduating students will need 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.
Education and its Bible root
He gave an intriguing account of knowledge and education noting that it has its root in the Bible as recorded in Genesis 3: 1-22.
“It all began with the tree of life… and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: These two trees were among all the other trees God created and put in the Garden of Eden. They were designed and desirable for gaining wisdom.
“The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was desirable for gaining wisdom, knowledge and therefore education. However, the tree of Life…. was to enable the creatures of God to live forever if they had heeded His instruction.
“The Bible says He (Adam) must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
He noted that the Commandments given by God were to serve as the foundation for the knowledge and education of mankind. “The great prophets and Kings of the ancient times of the bible sought for and received in its abundance, wisdom, and knowledge which of course are ingredients of education.”
He cited the example of the profound education Moses got from Egypt and that of Solomon. According to Jegede, quoting 1 Kings 4: 29-34, “remains the most educated and wisest human ever who got much more than he actually wanted to learn about.
He said, “He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.”
Jegede noted that there are at least 82 Bible Verses about Education adding that these scriptures “have been the basis of missionary effort in evangelisation and commitment to bring education, first about our Creator, then about secular learning, to the people of Nigeria
Prof Gary Maxey
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.
One of the reasons he agreed to honour WATS is his curiosity about WATS and the quality of its landmarks.
Jegede said, “WATS has become the largest and most strategically positioned seminary in all of West Africa. To date, it has trained about 2,553 graduates, including 66 graduating today. It has graduated 24 Doctorates and has 1,200 of its graduates serving in ministry in 22 countries.”
Jegede also paid tribute to the Acting Provost of the school, Dr. Tosin Awolalu recalling his excellent leadership skill while he was director of programme and Course Material development at the NOUN.
Oluwayemi, Chair Governing Council
Earlier at the event, the Chairman Governing Council of the seminary, Dr. Emmanuel Oluwayemi noted that the seminary has survived all odds to date.
He expressed confidence that the seminary has 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 is 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).
Of the 40 graduates of Theology, Mr. Chukwunonso Oguaka came out with a first-class while 11 others earned a second-class upper division. Eight of the 40 came out with a second-class lower degree while only one had a third-class. Only one of the graduating students, Daniel Olumefun earned a Doctor of Ministry degree.