[PROFILE] UNIBEN Professor Appointed Adviser To Pope Francis

A Nigerian professor at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Kokunre Agbontaen-Eghafona, has been named an adviser to Pope Francis, CAMPUS GIST reports. Francis is head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State.

CAMPUS GIST reports that Professor Agbontaen-Eghafona is among the only three persons appointed as Ordinary Members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS), on Friday.

The two others, according to a report by the Vatican News, are Pedro Morandé Court, a professor emeritus at the Pontifical University of Chile, from Chile; and Mario Draghi, former European Central Bank chief, from Italy.

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences was established by Pope John Paul II on 1 January 1994, with the aim of “promoting the study and progress of the social sciences, primarily economics, sociology, law and political science.”

The Academy helps offer the Church “those elements which she can use in the development of her social doctrine, and reflects on the application of that doctrine in contemporary society.”

The Academy holds regular international symposiums on subjects of social concern such as human trafficking, modern slavery and debt relief, and produces reports which the pope can use to guide him on non-religious issues.


Professor Agbontaen-Eghafona

Professor Kokunre Adetokunbo Agbontaen-Eghafona was born in London on 1 October 1959. She studied at the University of Benin, in Edo state, graduating with an undergraduate degree and later a Master of Arts in History. She also obtained a Master of Science in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Ibadan.

At the University of Benin, she has been a Lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology since 1992; Senior Lecturer in 1996, Associate Professor in 2003, and full Professor in 2008.

She has also held a number of administrative positions including Head of the Department of Sociology (2009-2013) and Director of part-time programs (2016).

A sustainable development champion, she was responsible for sustainable development within the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network from 2012 to 2017.

Professor Agbontaen-Eghafona is the author of numerous academic publications. Her current scientific activities include measures to combat human trafficking in Nigeria, with focus on Benin City, Edo state.

Research Works

Some of her research works include “examination of the role of the family in the trafficking of girls and women in the Benin society (2008/2009)”; and “prevailing perception of trafficking, prevention, and anti-trafficking activities among communities in Edo State (2012).”


A professor of cultural anthropology, Agbontaen-Eghafona has won numerous awards as “best lecturer” and “excellent lecturer” at UNIBEN including: “Best Lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, UNIBEN Award, 1999/2000; SOSSA (Social Science Students Association) Award for Excellent Lecturer – Students Relation and Exemplary Life Style in the Academia, June 2002;…

“Best Lecturer in Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Benin. Vice Chancellor’s Award 2006/2007; Best Lecturer in Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Benin. Vice Chancellor’s Award 2006/2007; SOSSA (Social Science Students Association) Award for Excellent Lecturer. September 2014.”

Membership Union

Professor Agbontaen-Eghafona is a member of various prestigious societies including the Archaeological Association of Nigeria; Nigerian Field Society; International Society for Benin Studies; Nigerian National Museum Society; West African Archaeological Association; Society for International Relations Awareness; Ethics Committee of College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin.

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Jobs: President signs order prioritising skills over degree

A college or university degree will no longer give American citizens a leg up when seeking some jobs with the federal government of the United States, Campus Gist has learned.

This comes as President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order that will overhaul the government’s hiring practices so that a job applicant’s skills will be given priority over a degree.

According to American newspaper New York Post, the development will allow government to hire a more inclusive workforce based on skill instead of a person’s education level.

What this means is that applicants for federal government jobs will now be vetted based on their skills rather than if they have a relevant college or university degree.

At a signing ceremony at the White House, President Trump said the order would create a more merit-based system and opportunities for Americans who had previously been excluded from the workforce.

“The federal government will no longer be narrowly focused on where you went to school, but the skills and the talents that you bring to the job,” he said.

“The order will direct federal agencies to shift to skills-and competency-based hiring rather than degree-based hiring which “excludes capable candidates and undermines labor-market efficiencies,” Trump added.

Trump praised his daughter, senior adviser and American Workforce Policy Advisory Board co-chair Ivanka Trump for leading the charge on the hiring edict.

“This will allow us to better recognize the talents and competencies of all Americans we hire,” the First Daughter said, calling on the private sector to follow suit.

“This will ensure that we’re able to hire based on talent and expand our universe to qualified candidates and ensure a more equitable hiring process,” USA Today quoted her as saying.

“The federal government will no longer be narrowly focused on where you went to school, but the skills and talents that you bring to the job.”

Ivanka Trump said the new hiring practice will show that the government is leading by example as it tries to recruit and retain the best and brightest workers.

With 2.1 million civilian workers, the federal government is the largest employer in the US and the new order will open doors to the two-thirds of American adults who do not possess a degree.

Campus Gist understands that job applicants for federal jobs will be now be vetted by relevant experts who will assess whether they possess the skills and ability to perform the job that they are applying for.

College or university degree requirements won’t be tossed completely, but skills in jobs where having a degree is less important will be stressed under the new order.


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