By Gabriel Dike
For the umpteenth time, the agitation for the conversion of the oldest educational institution in Lagos State, Adeniran Ogunsanya College to Education (AOCOED), Ijanikin, has gathered momentum as staff and students have called for the upgrading of the college to a degree-awarding university.
The College of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) and the students’ union recently renewed the demand for the state governor to convert AOCOED to a university of education.
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State last month approved the upgrading of Emmanuel Alayande College of Education to a full-fledged university of education. He said the college had the required facilities and manpower to take off as a degree-awarding institution.
Also recently, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State converted three institutions, out of which one is a college of education. The upgraded college is Delta State College of Education, Agbor, which was upgraded to University of Education.
History of agitation to convert AOCOED to varsity
The agitation to convert AOCOED to a degree-awarding institution dates back several years but it gathered momentum under former governor of Lagos State Babatunde Fashola’s administration in 2008. During the convocation and 50th anniversary of the college, which attracted former governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, staff and students had expected the pronouncement but were disappointed by Fashola.
Again, during the 60th anniversary/convocation of AOCOED, the management, staff and students were ready to roll out the drums to celebrate the conversion of the college to degree-awarding institution but the then governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, failed to meet their expectations and the dream died naturally.
Under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the agitation has taken a new dimension as students joined the call to upgrade AOCOED to University of Education. Both COEASU and the students’ union declared that the conversion was long overdue and urged the state government to expedite action on the matter.
According to COEASU and the students’ union, the college has the required manpower, facilities/structure to award university degrees to the teeming youths desirous of university certificates.
Branch chairman of COEASU, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education chapter, Mr. Ige Ajayi, recalled that staff and students were expecting the announcement during the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the institution but the state government failed to upgrade the college to degree-awarding status.
Said he: “It is no longer news that AOCOED is old enough to be upgraded to university status. The need for change in status for AOCOED to become a University of Education is long overdue. Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education is the oldest tertiary institution established by the Lagos State Government with the aim of advancing the frontiers of knowledge among pre-service and in-service teachers as well as other stakeholders through teaching, research, and creation of lifelong learning opportunities that are relevant and responsive to national and global needs.
“AOCOED, since 1958, has evolved from several stages, based on the dynamism and quest for knowledge by Lagosians from a Grade III teacher training college, named Lagos Day Training College in 1958, it became Grade II Teacher Training College; then NCE-awarding college in the 1970s, and a degree-awarding institution in 1999 in collaboration with University of Ado-Ekiti on sandwich degree programme in education courses and got approval in 2009 from the National Universities Commission (NUC) to run full-time degree programmes.
“It is on record that the resource team from NUC on three occasions gave 100 per cent accreditation to the college’s 26 programmes. The college has produced notable Nigerians who have contributed, are contributing and will continue to contribute to the overall growth of the state and Nigeria in all spheres of life.’’
Justifications for varsity status
Ige explained that the college had a rich pedigree and paid its dues with its affiliation with Ekiti State University. He said AOCOED could boast of qualified human resource, adequate infrastructure, accredited curriculum, Webometrics ranking, mega-city status of Lagos, socio-economic benefits, improved students’ subscription, staff job satisfaction and collective demand by the unions.
The COEASU chairman said that AOCOED was endowed with the best in human capital, stating, “It is not an exaggeration that there is enough human capacity in AOCOED. We have been on many world-class platforms together with other staff from sister institutions.
“Needless to say that with PhD holders close to 75 under her belt and about 30 getting close to the finishing line both home and abroad, while about 12 are waiting to defend, not many universities can beat this human record. There are some universities with less than 20 PhD holders that run so many degree programmes,’’ he added.
Success in various past accreditations
He said there cannot be greater proof of AOCOED’s readiness to transform to a university than its passing of three consecutive rigorous accreditation exercises from the NUC in the last 15 years. Ige stated that it was a confirmation of qualified personnel, adequate infrastructure, standard curriculum and efficient administrative support system.
“Transmuting to a university will not be less than an affirmation of 16-year record of having graduated over 25,000 sandwich degree students, and over 4,000 full-time degree students in the last nine years, in collaboration with Ekiti State University.’’
According to him, the old universities like UNILAG, UI, Unilorin and LASU are drawing from the pool of good hands in the college for their academic and administrative works.
“All the states in the South-West, with less economic status, have at least two universities. Majority of the students in those universities by a survey are drawn from Lagos residents. Therefore, transiting AOCOED to a university of education will be timely, as it will help Lagos residents stay in the state of excellence for their studies.
“A knowledge economy for Lagos is in dire need of specialised areas that are in abundance such as education degree programmes in tourism, film, advertising, mass communication, automobile, creative writing, communication and language arts, and other entrepreneurial courses, among others. AOCOED can boast of capable and qualified academic personnel.
“Given that there is unanimity of purpose among the staff unions and the AOCOED community is enough assurance that the entire college community desires its transition to University of Education. To be specific, COEASU, SSUCOEN, NASU, NACETAN are highly supportive of its take-off and in the actual sense the demand for such started as far back as 2009,’’ Ige said.
He disclosed that the state government promised to upgrade the college, saying, “This should be kept. Needful to add that at the time the college management conveyed the good news of the state government’s plan to transmute the college to university status to the AOCOED community, it was overwhelmingly received with enthusiasm, exhilaration, jubilation and appreciation to the people’s governor. It will be very demoralising for the staff to hear otherwise.’’
The COEASU chairman cited Osun State University as an example on sale of forms alone; when it was advertised for the first set, more than 100,000 candidates subscribed, even at N5,000 and it yielded the institution N500 million. He, however, said only 2,000 candidates could be admitted. The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) was another institution that thrives on subscription numbers.
The students’ union president in AOCOED, Bamgbose Joshua, sounding confident, said the college has what it takes to be a university, adding, “It will be a dream come true for students who want to stand on the same pedestal with other university students.”
He said, based on the innovations by the provost, the students were looking forward to the conversion of AOCOED to a university. Bamgbose further revealed that the college management has been working hard to ensure it is accomplished.
“Students are eager to see AOCOED transmuted to university. We hope our dream and expectations of the state government converting AOCOED to a university will come to pass.”
A lecturer in Department of Educational Foundation, Dr Tola Olajuwon, said the state government is losing heavily by non fast racking the progress to upgrade AOCOED to University of Education.
“The state government’s delay to upgrade AOCOED, is tantamount to creating more loss itself because government has been using its money to train many of us, but once our members get their PhD, other universities simply poach them. This is as a result of poor morale. Unfortunately, we do not see this situation abating soon except government intervenes.”
Corroborating Olajuwon’s view, the Director Centre for Extra Mural Studies and Community Education, Dr Husain Luqmon, disclosed that the upgrading of AOCOED would contribute to quality education in Lagos state. He insisted that the college has enough facilities, staff and manpower for the new process.
“Many lecturers in higher institutions in Lagos and beyond are drawn from AOCOED. There is brain drain already. We are losing most of our best brains to other institutions.’’
Former chairman of AOCOED-COEASU and immediate past National President of AOCOED Alumni Association, Mr. Adeyemi Adesanya, hoped the state government would make their word their bond.
“We trust Governor Babajide Sanwoolu. He is a man of his word. Even if the pronouncement suffers a little delay, we will all pack ourselves to Alausa and stay in his office until he answers us but I know it won’t get to that.”