Tanko Ishaya and I are Great Josites

It is 2040, his name is Tanko Ishaya, for the purpose of this conversation, he is just an ordinary man, but with academics are there really ordinary men? He is a professor, what you would call an expert professing knowledge in today’s AI world, the only difference is that, this is actually 2024, he is the vice chancellor of the prestigious University of Jos.

The University of Jos, a beacon of academic excellence, innovation, and progress, stands poised on the threshold of a transformative journey into the future. In envisioning the University of Jos of tomorrow, we embarked on a bold endeavour to redefine higher education, embrace technological advancements, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and create an environment conducive to learning and innovation.

Campus Infrastructure:

Smart Campus: The University of Jos will feature a state-of-the-art smart campus, equipped with advanced technologies such as IoT sensors, smart classrooms, and automated systems for efficient resource management.

Sustainable Architecture: Eco-friendly buildings utilising renewable energy sources, green spaces, and sustainable materials will characterize the campus landscape, reflecting our commitment to environmental stewardship.

Advanced Laboratories: Cutting-edge research laboratories will facilitate interdisciplinary research across various fields, fostering innovation and scientific discovery.

Digital Libraries: Extensive digital libraries with access to vast repositories of academic resources, e-books, and online journals will provide students and faculty with unparalleled learning opportunities.

Academic Programmes:

Future-Focused Curricula: Dynamic and interdisciplinary curricula tailored to meet the evolving needs of society, with a focus on emerging fields such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, renewable energy, and sustainable development.

Lifelong Learning: Continuous learning programmes, micro-credentials, and professional development courses will empower students and professionals to acquire new skills and stay abreast of advancements in their respective fields.

Global Partnerships: Strategic partnerships with leading universities, research institutions, and industry partners worldwide will enable collaborative research, student exchange programs, and cross-cultural learning experiences.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Integrated entrepreneurship programs and innovation hubs will nurture the spirit of creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving among students, fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Student Experience:

Holistic Development: A holistic approach to student development, encompassing academic excellence, leadership development, community engagement, and personal well-being, will be central to the University of Jos experience.

Student Support Services: Comprehensive support services, including academic advising, career counseling, mental health support, and mentorship programs, will ensure that students thrive both academically and personally.

Diversity and Inclusion: A diverse and inclusive campus community that celebrates differences, promotes cultural exchange, and fosters mutual respect and understanding will be fundamental to the University of Jos ethos.

Global Citizenship: Opportunities for international study abroad programs, cultural immersion experiences, and community service initiatives will cultivate global citizenship and social responsibility among students.

Research and Innovation:

Interdisciplinary Research Centers: Specialized research centers and institutes focused on key societal challenges, such as healthcare, environmental sustainability, and social justice, will drive collaborative research and innovation.

Technology Transfer: Robust mechanisms for technology transfer and commercialization of research outcomes will facilitate the translation of academic research into real-world solutions, driving economic development and societal impact.

Incubation Centers: Entrepreneurship incubation centers will provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities needed to launch successful startups and ventures.

Open Access Initiatives: Commitment to open access publishing, data sharing, and knowledge dissemination will promote transparency, collaboration, and the democratization of knowledge.

As I sat down with Professor Tanko Ishaya, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia wash over me. We were sitting in his office, surrounded by the trappings of a storied academic career, and yet, the conversation was not about the past, but about the future.

Professor Ishaya, a man of unassuming demeanor, spoke with passion and conviction about his vision for the University of Jos. His eyes sparkled as he spoke about the motto that had guided the institution since its inception – “Dedication and Discipline”. It was a mantra that he believed was essential for achieving excellence, not just for the university, but for Nigeria’s higher education system as a whole.

But our conversation was not just about the past. Professor Ishaya spoke about his dreams for the future, about the challenges he faced in bringing change to an institution steeped in tradition, and about his desire to leave a lasting impact on the university and the higher education system. He spoke about the need for transparency and accountability, and about his commitment to innovation and progress.

As we reminisced about the university’s history, I was struck by the parallels between our experiences. We had both been a part of the University of Jos at different times, and yet, our experiences were linked by a common thread – a commitment to excellence, and a belief in the power of education to transform lives.

The University of Jos, established in 1971 as a satellite campus of the University of Ibadan, had come a long way since its humble beginning. From its early days as a pre-degree institution, to its establishment as a separate entity in 1975, the university has grown and evolved, adding new faculties and programmes. Today, it is a thriving institution, with reputation for academic excellence, and a commitment to innovation and progress.

As we spoke, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride in the university, and in the man who was leading it into the future. Professor Ishaya’s vision for the University of Jos was not just about academic excellence, but about developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovation – skills essential for navigating the complexities of the 21st century.

I am a Josite, a proud one at that, not much anyone could do about it, I am also a proud Nigerian, whether it’s a call for compatriots to arise or it is to hail the nation of native nationals and tribes. I believe that Nigeria needs an education system that focuses on developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovation skills to forge ahead.

We must emphasise experiential learning, interdisciplinary collaboration, and innovation. Foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and entrepreneurship skills.

We must redirect our energy on producing graduates with digital literacy, data analysis, and cutting-edge technical skills, because this is seriously lacking, beyond project and dissertation writing and plagiarism and citation issues. We must encourage research and development, with a focus on solving Nigeria’s unique challenges.

We must develop soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and leadership, to enhance employability and global competitiveness. And, of course, we must prioritise interdisciplinary approaches, combining arts, humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields. We must stop the study of public and business admin just for the sake of getting a degree to work in the civil service.

Our universities must provide accessible, affordable, and inclusive education, leveraging technology and online platforms, while cultivating a culture of social responsibility, ethical leadership, and community engagement.

By adopting this approach, Nigerian universities can produce graduates equipped to drive innovation, economic growth, and sustainable development, forging a brighter future for the nation.

As our conversation came to a close, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of optimism about the future. The University of Jos, under the leadership of Professor Ishaya, was ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, shaping the future of Nigeria, and beyond, and my belief remains that through the threshold of our current struggles lies a beauty—May Nigeria win.