The 5th Annual Conference of Association of West African Universities (AWAU) opened on Monday in Niamey, Niger Republic, with a call on all members to work together by sharing ideas and values towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The conference, with the theme, “Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals: Roles of Universities”, charged universities as the bakery of learning and human capacity building to live up to the expectations of achieving the SDGs.
In his welcome address, chairman of the association, Prof. Abdulganiyu Ambali, who is also the Vice-Chancellor of University of Ilorin, reminded members of world leaders gathering in New York for the launch of the SDGs, otherwise known as the agenda to transforming the world by the year 2030 which seeks to tackle about 181 issues, among which is education placed at number four.
He said, “Though education features among the goals, the truth is none of the goals can be achieved without education. This means that education, which the late African statesman Nelson Mandela described as the most powerful weapon which one can use to change the world, is the vehicle that will convey all the SDGs to fruition”.
Ambali reasoned that if education is the vehicle that would convey these SDGs, then universities are its engine.
“Without universities, not only education but the entire SDGs will be a complete nullity”.
He maintained that universities have a significant role to play at the level of providing leadership, fostering partnership, developing human capacity, increasing research, create awareness and promoting knowledge.
He said, “All these cannot be achieved without commitment to working hard and working together on the part of the stakeholders from government, development partners to universities and the people themselves”.
The chairman reiterated to members that the reason behind the establishment of universities is to fast-track development and anything regarding development is within the purview of the universities.
He appealed to all member universities that their teachings, research and community services should be directed or be seen as one adding value to the society.
“At the end of this conference when we return to our various destinations, I will want us to think on how we can further domesticate and attain the SDGs within our institutions and host community”.
The Association of West African Universities was founded in 2011 to promote collaboration among member universities by focusing on thematic issues bordering on development and advancement in the West Africa region.