DENTON (UNT), Texas — Faculty members from several Nigerian universities are learning how to better teach their students about issues related to aging with the help of University of North Texas gerontology faculty members. The program is part of UNT’s larger effort to improve the teaching of gerontology and raise awareness about aging issues across the globe — ultimately improving the care offered to aging residents worldwide.
Twenty-two faculty members from 11 universities and two curriculum experts from the Nigerian National Universities Commission are visiting the UNT campus in the spring semester to complete their studies for a specialist in aging certificate in applied gerontology. UNT faculty members in applied gerontology visited Nigeria for two weeks this summer to teach those faculty members and the National Universities Commission. The program is part of an agreement with Nigeria’s National Universities Commission, which sets the criteria for Nigeria’s 128 higher education institutions.
“UNT’s Applied Gerontology Program has long been global, with outreach to Mexico, Turkey, China and elsewhere, and has attracted students from around the globe,” said James Swan, professor of applied gerontology at UNT. “This summer brought a new dimension to the program with an initiative involving Nigeria.
“Only about 5 percent of Nigeria’s population is 60 and older, but that is going to grow quickly,” Swan said. “That will put pressure on traditional systems of family care for elders. Globalization and urbanization create further pressures by dispersing family members to different locations and even abroad. So Nigeria will need systems to both supplement and complement family supports for elders.
“They are getting ahead by establishing programs to train gerontologists,” he said. “The aim is to better equip these faculty to teach gerontology in their universities, to begin joint research on issues of aging in Nigeria and to be involved in developing community-based programs for elders throughout Nigeria.”
Faculty members involved in the collaborative effort will also aim to develop post-graduate applied gerontology curricula for Nigerian universities and to contribute to the founding of a Center for Aging and Sustainability in Nigeria under the auspices of the National Universities Commission.
In Nigeria, Swan was joined by Keith Turner, UNT associate professor of gerontology; Ami Moore, UNT associate professor in the Department of Sociology; Iftekhar Amin, assistant professor of human services at the University of North Texas at Dallas; and Oscar Atumah, who graduated from the UNT applied gerontology program. The group spent two weeks teaching in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The 24 students from Nigeria will complete the final class in the spring at UNT, and will be visited by Professor Julius Okojie, the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission.
While in Abuja, Turner, Swan and Moore participated in two days of meetings of the committee developing NUC’s Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards for Postgraduate Degree Programs in Gerontology for Nigerian Universities.
Stan Ingman, professor of applied gerontology at UNT, served as liaison to the project.