Nigeria: UNICEF, AUN Collaborate On New Academic Programme

AUN said the partnership for the new programme was formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on Monday.

The American University of Nigeria (AUN) has said it is partnering with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to offer a Master’s of Science degree in Communication for Social and Behavior Change.

The university’s spokesperson, Daniel Okereke, said in a a statement that UNICEF will provide the modules while the university expands and domesticates them for the programme.

He said the partnership for the new programme was formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Monday.

The MoU was signed by the Interim President of AUN, Attahir Yusuf, a professor, and UNICEF’s Chief of Field Operations in the Nigeria Country Office, Opiyo Nixon.

Mr Okereke said the programme currently awaits final approval by the National Universities Commission (NUC).

The statement reads in part; “AUN will offer the UNICEF MSc in Communication for Social and Behavior Change in a hybrid format to give more interested and qualified applicants from across the continent an opportunity to enroll.

“UNICEF, which has extensive resources and global expertise in social and behavior change, provided the modules, while the AUN’s Communications and Multimedia Design department expanded and domesticated the curriculum.”

Mr Attahir said the collaboration is significant “as it aims to develop mechanisms and a body of knowledge to deal with changes for the benefit of society.”

He said: “Once more, AUN is breaking new ground. We were the first Nigerian university to introduce Software Engineering as an undergraduate programme, and last semester, we were the first to introduce Data Science and Analytics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The UNICEF MSc in Communication for Social and Behavior Change reflects the excellence in academic content and delivery for which this university is reputed.”

The Dean of the AUN Graduate School and Research, Jacob Udo-Udo, a professor, also said the collaboration is in response to the training needs of communication personnel working in various humanitarian, conflict and development-related sectors and assignments in West Africa.

“At the core of any development initiative is communication, whether it is peacebuilding, providing water and sanitation to the community or educating out-of-school children. It is building social norms and convincing people that it is in their own interest to uptake forms of behavior that will achieve the common good,” said Mr Udo-Udo.

Mr Nixon, who represented the UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, lauded the programme as the first of its kind in Nigeria, and urged other academic institutions to emulate AUN’s community engagement model.

He said: “As an organisation established in 1946 with a mandate to support and promote the rights of children and women, UNICEF draws a lot of experience from around the world where we are present and there is no better way to fulfil our mandate than to work within communities, with community leaders, with every member of the society to improve on how we address issues,” he said.

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe

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