Reference is invited from the article published on the Fatu Network, January 8, 2018. “Gambia’s President, Adama Barrow is to be presented with an honorary doctorate for Human Rights from The University of The Gambia (UTG)”.
The last time I checked European universities began granting degrees “for the sake of the honor” (honoris causa) in the 15th century, and the first such degree was awarded at Oxford University in 1478 or 1479 to Lionel Woodville, Dean of Exeter, the brother-in-law of Edward IV and the future Bishop of Salisbury. These were essentially academic peerages, entitling the recipient to full privileges in the university, privileges that were much more extensive than now. At the same time universities conferred degrees on certain scholars whose career achievements warranted such recognition.
If “honoris causa” are embedded in the culture of higher education, then it seems that institutions must award them more carefully. No one can predict the future perfectly. But if past performance has any predictive weight, at all, in relation to future behavior, academic leaders ought to take past character of potential honorary degree recipients quite seriously. If administrators do not believe in the moral obligation to be intelligent, they might at least consider the obligation to be moral, or honorable. Award honorary doctorates to those least likely to dishonor both the institution and higher education generally. Make sure the genius in the portfolio before you has few-to-no character questions.
The question one might be quick to ask will be:
What is the PhD for?
What is the citation in the first place?
What has he done to earn such an award?
Is the UTG in a position to grant such an award?
Is the UTG now politicized?
If the University is pleased with his human right records it will be better for him to be awarded a certificate of achievement in recognition of his effort. Within the span of one year how can you determine the efficiency and effectiveness of an individual?
Education is one of the most important instruments of change in any society. And in order for any fundamental change to occur in terms of intellect and social outlook in a society, it is has to be proceeded by an educational revolution. The term education comes from the Latin word e-ducere meaning “to lead out.” Education is referred as the process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning, and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.
Please be informed that the University of The Gambia have pressing issues to solve rather than this unnecessary recognition that will not add value to the education system. The University does not have books that are up to date, most of the books in the main library were outdated before I was born. During my time as a student at the University from 2010-2013, there was never a day when the internet allowed me to download reading materials
However, if we want to have better educational system where students learn to develop themselves and strive hard to learn the values of life, we must focus our energy and resources on the university where it all began. We must have the right people with right qualifications at the university and people who are honest, decent, and determined to ensure that our brothers and sisters are successful in their education.
There is need for basic furniture for lectures to take place, the environment needs to be conducive for learning and as it stands the boards are so old. Their needs to be development with regard to learning, times have changed and in the 21st century there is a necessity for the use of technology in the classroom. The University still lacks basic projectile or video presentations of important lectures. In a nutshell, there is zero use of latest technological innovations to help students at the university in their learning.
I don’t deny the fact that The University of The Gambia has produced many intellects, brains and will continue to produce who are able and competent enough to compete in the marketplace of ideas and world market of recruitment as far beyond Pluto. But despite the fact of all those efforts we still need to double up and tighten our belts for a better university we dream that will one day be the last place of hope.
Taking initiatives to refine education without the resources that needs to be implemented is wholly unrealistic and ensues as a misery in disguise on students. A case in point is the “Ph.D.” proposed program. There is not a single reason for what one should appreciate this opinion. The initiative has turned out ordinary to burn a hole in students’ pockets without giving them a good education in return.
I submit to you that if the proposed PhD is conferred to President Barrow I will return my BSc. As I don’t have hope in the Gambia’s first and only University any more.
To be continued………….
Saidina Alieu Jarjou
Alumnus, School of Business and Public Administration