By Funmi Ogundare
Yaba College of Technology recently inaugurated its Art Museum, designed to serve both cultural and education purposes, teach, train and be a resource space for researchers and learners.
The project, supported by Ford Foundation with a grant of $100,000, will also be used to hold an advocacy interest against sexual harrasment and gender-based violence within and beyond the college community.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the museum and exhibition titled ‘All in the Eye’ and the launch of YCT policy on sexual harassment, the Rector, Obafemi Omokungbe described art in the college as that which has projected its name within and outside the country.
He thanked the foundation for its support for the grant and others who facilitated the winning of the grant.
He also thanked a Gender Issues, Security and International Law Consultant, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi and her team for formulating the policy.
“The launch of YCT policy on sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence is a reaffirmation of our commitment to eliminate and prevent such issues in our environment. With a zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the college, it is only right that we take necessary steps for its sustenance.”
In his remark, the Head, Project Research Team, Dr. Adeleke Abiodun recalled how the School of Art came into being and was collecting artworks, but over the years, lacked the financial capacity to put a proper structure in place for a museum. He said not until 2019, when the school decided to apply for a grant from the foundation and with the support of the rector who insisted that the basement of the Grillo Hall be used for that purpose, the school was able to reconstruct the place with the fund befitting of a museum.
“The project was supposed to last within one year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could not complete it at the allotted time, but today, the dream of our forefathers which could not be completed due to lack of funds, has now come to reality, ” he said.
He thanked the foundation for its support towards the college.
The Regional Director, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma described the museum as first of its kind in Nigeria, while emphasising on the numerous projects the foundation has supported. He stressed the need to exhibit the works of the students in the museum.
On the issue of sexual harassment and gender-based violence, he expressed concern that Nigerian higher institutions are fast becoming unsafe especially for female students, saying that the launch will guard against such issues.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, who unveiled the sexual harrasment and other forms of gender-based violence prohibition policy document, expressed confidence that the museum will not only serve visitors, but also complement research works among students which would in turn give them an edge over their contemporaries.
She said it is imperative that the management of the college explores collaborative synergy with the state government so that the museum can be put to good use.
“That this foremost institution came up with this idea of creating space for the works of arts and artefacts is a very commendable move especially now that more attention is needed to promote arts, museum and our indigenous culture.”
On the sexual harrasment policy, Akinbile-Yusuf said: “This is also a good idea considering the rate of cases of sexual harassment in higher institutions and gender-based violence generally. Several mechanism is being put in place by the state government to drastically upturn this trend and any initiative that will further increase public knowledge about this monster will be duly appreciated.”
In her remarks, Dr. Akiyode-Afolabi, who spoke about the issue of sexual harrasment, noted that it is something everybody should take seriously for the development of the society. She emphasised on how the policy was derived through interactions with critical stakeholders of the college, saying that a unit be set up that will be responsible for reported cases, orientation of students, improving security, putting up a dress code for students, among others.