Prof Restituta Igube is one of the very few in the world who specialize in Women and gender studies and industrial sociology. A social worker who has published widely both locally and internationally, she is a consultant on gender issues and a pioneer member of staff of the University of Abuja. She speaks on the world of academics and the positive impact it has on the society
My career began when I made the decision to become an academic. In those days when you graduate, there were so many jobs. So I had to think seriously to convince myself that I really wanted to go in to academics. Fortunately for me I was the best graduating student in my class. I graduated from Makarere University, Kampala, Uganda. There was the rule then that as a best graduating student, one was entitled to automatic employment as a graduate assistant. There were jobs in the civil service, in fact in my case we were interviewed on campus so even before you left campus you already had a job.
There were lots of jobs from the university, the public sector and thae private sector. The private sector was the money making sector. So it was a very difficult decision for me to make.
I graduated very early, I was in my early 20s, so I thought what was I going to do with money at that early age? I decided it would be better for me to develop myself.
The teaching career actually chose me because of my being the best student. To go to the university in those days one had to be very brilliant and in my class there were very many intelligent students so I never knew I was going to be the best I just went on with my classes, but eventually when the result came out, I was the best student. I felt humbled and thought that if God has given me this brain why don’t I use it to get education and share this knowledge with others in appreciation for what God has done for me especially because when I attended the university, education was free, books were available good lecturers were available. There was no option for failure.
One other reason why I decided to go for lecturer job was probably because both my parents were teachers and they made sure that all eight of us had very good education.
Challenges on the job
My major challenge as a lecturer are unserious students and as a mother I have to put in extra effort to assist such students. This most times turns me into a guidance counsellor, guiding them to ensure they do well and get a good academic degree.
Fortunately for me I did my masters in the best University in Asia, the State University of the Philippines, institute of social work and community development, where I was also the best student. I got there to find out that most of the university lecturers were women. It was a cultural shock but a good cultural shock. But coming back to Africa, I met some men who are chauvinists mostly through no fault of theirs; that is the way of the African society, it’s all about men. But whether one is a man or woman, he/she should be respected.
The professional and academic integrity should be respected but some men still believe that once you are a women, you should be at the background. They are scared of women who are intelligent and can engage them. I believe it is inferiority complex, they feel intimidated by a very intelligent woman.
As my husband says, when they see you doing a good job you bring out their weaknesses, they feel that you are outshining them.
However there are also very good men who encourage you. Fortunately in academics if as a woman one is ready to work hard they will give you their respect, even if they don’t like you.
Usually when I advise my students, I ask them why they want to pursue a second degree, where is it taking you? So it is not just pursuing the second or third degree but pursuing it in the right direction. A higher degree is not for everybody. A lot of people don’t have the ability to pursue a higher degree. Some don’t have the interest and some don’t have the intellectual capability to pursue it.
However as an educationist I will always encourage my students to further their education because getting a higher degree goes beyond the brain. You can be intelligent but not have the ability to work hard, others may not be that intelligent but have the ability to work hard and study. I will encourage as many people as possible to get a second degree because higher degrees contribute more to national development, the first degree is okay, you contribute mainly to yourself.
Once you get a higher degree you can go into academics and teach so you can help other people. A higher degree can also open doors for one to branch into doing research, then you can develop new ideas which can impact the society positively. No society can develop without new and indigenous ideas.
Youths in politics
The youths have the constitutional right to go into politics, they should however engage in politics intelligently. They should apply their God-given intelligence to serve the society through politics. They are the future.
The problem we have is that the youths want to think they are the leaders of today. They think they are smarter than the older ones. You have to walk before you can run. They should go ahead and acquire the prerequisite skills and experience. They should also make sure they don’t allow themselves to be used by the older generation of politicians to ferment trouble. They should look up to great politicians who can teach them the ropes and have them as mentors so they can learn from them.
It’s actually the same way in the academic world, you work with your professor, you do research when she is doing research, find time to engage with your academic adviser and that’s the way one gets the necessary skills.
Reasons for education
People think the only benefit of getting an education is to get employment. This is not true, education helps build your character. It widens your horizons, trains you to acquire more skills and discipline, so by the time you are out of the university with your degree you are a better person. It takes the whole international community to create a professor because to attain that position you must have attended numerous international conferences.
Our reading culture is nothing to write home about, 70 per cent of our adults can’t read and write. Most children growing up don’t have books at home, then the poverty situation is one of the reasons why the reading culture is low. The best way to make our reading culture better, is for the government to invest more in education. There should be public libraries with books to borrow and read. Then we should encourage the production of local literature and indigenous writers, writers who will write what is relevant to the society and the modern age. Reading can help you travel through your imagination. Reading keeps you young, it improves your mind. Helps you to be able to have sensible and meaningful discussions.
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