By Obinna Odogwu (Awka), Geoffrey Anyanwu (Enugu), Tony Osauzo (Benin), Lateef Dada (Osogbo), Chijioke Agwu (Abakaliki), Okey Sampson (Umuahia) and Priscilla Ediare (Ado-Ekiti)
From the days when the nation had Teachers Training Colleges (TTC), which produced lower level teaching staff with Teachers Grade-2 Certificate for the primary schools and the Advanced Teachers Training Colleges (ATTC) on the other hand provided the tutorial manpower for secondary schools while degree holders were at the apex of the teaching staff at the post-primary level, the Nigerian educational system has continued to evolve.
The next curve of development of the system was the total elimination of the TTCs coupled with the renaming and restructuring of the ATTCs as “College of Education” structured to award the Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE) after a three-year course of study.
Later, the NCE became the minimum qualification for teaching in primary schools while the Bachelor of Education degree in any subject or combined honours became the basic qualification for teaching in secondary schools. With the passage of time and changes in the priorities of governments with respect to education policies, some states have elected to upgrade their existing colleges of education to degree-awarding institutions affiliated to some universities or converted into full-fledged University of Education.
In this report, Sunday Sun reviews the status of colleges of education in some states.
In Anambra, the state-owned teachers training institution, Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe (NOCEN) in Anambra East Local Government Area of the state still awards NCE certificate. However, there have been calls by individuals for the institution to be upgraded to become a university of education.
NOCEN is affiliated to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), where its NCE graduates could study and obtain the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree. The college is popular, perhaps because of the number of graduates it has churned out over the years, which constitute a reasonable portion of the state’s workforce in the education sector, particularly those in the classrooms.
Founded in 1976, it was originally known as College of Education, Nsugbe, but it was later renamed in honour of Prince Abyssinia Akweke Nwafor Orizu, Nigeria’s second Senate President from November 16, 1960 to January 15, 1966, during the country’s First Republic.
The Provost of the college, Dr. Ifeyinwa Osegbo, does not miss any opportunity to tell you the wonderful stories of NOCEN whenever the opportunity comes up.
For her, NOCEN remains the best college of education in the country which takes pride in churning out graduates that could conveniently and favourably compete with their contemporaries anywhere in the world and stand tall.
There are two major Colleges of Education in Enugu State, namely, Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu and Enugu State College of Education (Technical) (ESCET), which is situated at the centre of the capital city, Enugu.
The state government owned ESCET is a full fledge college that awards the National Certificate of Education (NCE). It has not been converted into a university, though the state government has plans of establishing a University of Education in Ihe, Awgu Local Government Area of the state.
Confirming the status of ESCET to Sunday Sun, the Public Relations Officer of the College, Mrs Chinwe Ani said: “Presently we only award NCE and PDE (Professional Diploma in Education). The Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) is the supervisory body for the PDE.”
On the upgrade made by the college, the image-maker said: “We don’t award degrees here, but we have a degree programme that is affiliated to Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (Unizik) for now as arrangements are on for more affiliations. Our students with our NCE certificate get direct entry admission into Unizik to study Education related courses.”
However, Sunday Sun gathered that enrolment into the college has since 2011 to date reduced unlike what it was between 2006 and 2010. This, some staff said, was because of government’s decision around 2010 to move the school to Awgu which later did not work out.
But Mrs Ani giving reasons for the low enrolment said: “You know NCE programme is a last resort for our people in this region of the country. It is only when they could not get university admission that they consider NCE; even if they may still read education, they will prefer to do it in the university for the sake of the name. The enrollment is not encouraging.”
Though the students are on break, one of them who came around for a message, told Sunday Sun that the majority of them are more interested in the degree programme and to teach in secondary school after school.
Ruth as she gave her name said: “Me, no, I don’t want to teach in primary school, I want to teach in secondary school that is why I am pursuing the degree programme, and that is the same mindset of many of us here.”
An official of the State Ministry of Education who pleaded anonymity confirmed that they have NCE graduates teaching in the primary schools in the state, adding that today’s high competition has made almost everyone of them who can afford it to try to improve upon the NCE certificate.”
Edo State does not have a functioning College of Education currently. Originally, there were two Colleges of Education, one at Ekiadolor in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo South and the other in Igueben, Igueben Local Government Area of Edo Central Senatorial district.
Both colleges were shut down about three years ago. The Ekiadolor College of Education was first upgraded to Tayo Akpata University of Education, but never functioned in that regard before the state government relocated it to Abudu over three years ago. The plan of the government was to have a three-campus arrangement for the College of Education to be sited at Abudu, Afuze and Igueben in the three Senatorial districts of the state, with the intention that the institution would train teachers for the junior, senior and technical secondary school programme. But as of today, the college is yet to function in any of the campuses.
Osun has two state-owned Colleges of Education, located at Ilesa and Ila-Orangun, and both are still awarding the National Certificate of Education (NCE) to their graduates.
The Osun State College of Education (OSCOED) Ilesa, was established in 1977 while OSCOED Ila-Orangun, established in 1979, are in affiliation with recognised university where graduates of their colleges could be given direct entry admission to obtain degree certificate.
The Public Relations Officer of the Osun State College of Education, Ila-Orangun, Mr Niyi Kolawole, told Sunday Sun that the college has not been elevated to degree awarding status, but it’s affiliated with Ekiti State University, Ekiti, whereby students can go to obtain degrees after completion of three years study in the university.
Also, speaking with our correspondent on the status of the institution, the PRO, Ilesa College of Education, Mr Adeleke Abiodun, said: “We are still in the process of converting it to a university. But, we have NCE programme and we have affiliation with the University of Ibadan where our NCE graduates can get admission by direct entry to study for the Bachelor of Education degree.”
Efforts to get the number of enrolment of students into the colleges proved futile as authorities concerned said it was difficult getting the accurate figure.
Ebonyi State College of Education (EBSCOEI), Ikwo, is the only state college of education in Ebonyi State. However it is affiliated to the Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki (EBSU). The college currently runs 21 NCE programmes and five degree courses, as Sunday Sun learnt from the Provost of the College, Prof Benedict Mbam, in a recent interaction with journalists.
He added that there were plans to expand the degree prorammes in the school, but they were being careful due to the rules and guidelines of the National Universities Commission and the National Commission for Colleges of Education that only 20 per cent of the students’ population should be for degree programmes while 80 per cent would be for NCE programmes.
“NCE is our core mandate, but we are trying to see if we can expand our horizon on degree programmes, but we are being cautious because of NUC and National Commission for Colleges of Educations guidelines and regulations,’’ he said.
On the enrolment status of the school, Mbam said that the presence of other federal institutions in the state and other neigbouring states like Abia, Enugu and Cross River, has affected the number of students enrolling into the school.
“I have to be frank with you; I don’t have the figure here, but every State College of Education, normally witnesses low enrolment due to the presence of other federal Colleges of Education in almost every state now. In Ebonyi, for instance, we now have Federal College of Education, Isu in Onicha Local Government Area. Because of that we are experiencing low enrolment. And it is through the enrolment of students that we generate the bulk fund needed to run the school, though we have other sources of making money. Our admission status is not encouraging at all. And there are factors responsible for this. One, we made survey to determine the popularity of the college and we found out that 97 per cent of the people that know about the college are from Ebonyi, Enugu is about one per cent, Abia is one per cent, Imo is zero per cent, Anambra, zero per cent and Cross River is about one per cent. So, we discovered that people do not even know that Ebonyi State College of Education is in existence. But we are taking some measures like good Internet presence and online advertisement to solve the problem,” he said.
He stated that the Ebonyi State government has been trying in terms of funding the school and praised Governor David Umahi for his love for education.
“In terms of funding, we are enjoying maximum funding, but let me tell you that anything about money, no amount of money will be enough for the college and we augment it through our IGR,” he said.
Abia State College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu (ASCETA) was affiliated with two universities, Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU) and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike (MOUAU) for the purpose of awarding degrees to her students. But like the Americans would say, that noble arrangement became dead on arrival.
Giving an insight to the cause of the problem, the Chairman, Academic Staff Union of the institution, Kelvin Egesi, told Sunday Sun: “The management of the school mismanaged that arrangement to the point that many of our students who graduated many years ago could not go for the National Youth Service, probably there were no more accreditation for the programmes. The programme stopped last year. For now, the school is only an NCE awarding institution.”
The number of students in the school has not really doubled, but there is surely an increase in the student population over the years.
According to a staff of ASCETA (name withheld), the school presently has a student population of between 350 and 400. She said that before now, the school had a student population of between 250 and 280.
On the issue of student population, Egesi explained: “The issue of the increment in the number of students was that the whole staff of the school sometime ago went for students drive in different locations of the state. I spent my personal and the union’s money to achieve this. The government and the management had no hands in what we did.”
The dark side of the College which has affected it in so many ways is the issue of non-payment of salaries of the workers by management.
“We are at present owed salary arrears for 31 months. We were paid last in February this year. In 2018, we were only paid from January to July; throughout the rest of the year, we did not receive any salary.
In 2019, they paid us January salary, throughout the rest of that year, no salary came our way. In 2020, they owed us from January to October. In 2021, we were paid salary last in March,” Egesi lamented.
On whether the non-payment of salary is affecting the college, an academic staff member of the college who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the school appears abandoned, stressing that it is going down seriously as a result of non-payment of salaries.
Egesi corroborated this, saying: “Yes, the school is going down because there’s no way you will owe the workers and expect the best from them. For example, personally, I have four children and two of them are entering into secondary school and I need money for that purpose. There is no way anybody will ask me as school has reopened, to go and teach others, instead of running about to raise money for my children’s school fees. The same applies to the other lecturers. As far as I am concerned, the school is going down.”
When asked what the school management or government is doing about the issue of arrears of salary, he responded this way: “In July, we protested within the school premises, then after one week, we did another protest in Umuahia over the non-payment of salary. The following day, we met with Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who promised us he was going to do something to pay us at least four or five months’ salary. That day we met him, they released one month which was used to pay the March salary. Since that day, we have not received any other salary.
“Governor said by August, he would pay us four to five months salary, but August has finished, we are yet to receive anything.”
Another lecturer who would also not want his name mentioned in print said that by the school calendar, the college resumed on Monday, September 6, but that they don’t know what to do.
He, however, promised that they were going back to school, since they are not on strike, as they cannot abandon the students they brought to suffer.
The workers of the college were in unison in their responses that the only way forward is for the government to pay them their salary to enable them give students the best.
In October 2020, the Ekiti State College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti, was upgraded to a university.
Mr Temitope Akinbisoye, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Bamidele Olumilua University of Education, Science and Technology, Ikere-Ekiti (BOUESTI) (formerly College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti), said: “The College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti, was upgraded to a full fledge university on October 16, 2020 by the Ekiti State Government. On November 6, 2020, the National Universities Commission (NUC) issued a certificate of recognition to the Ekiti State government recognising the institution as the 47th state university and 171st university in Nigeria.”
Akinbisoye further said that the university still awards NCE certificates, explaining that some of the students had not completed their programme before the upgrade.
Also, some candidates who wrote the entrance examination of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) chose the institution before it was upgraded to a university last year.
“All students in the NCE Programme will complete their programme and will be awarded NCE certificates. As of the time the college was upgraded to a university on October 16, 2020, the 2020 UTME had already been conducted for the 2020/2021 academic session.
“So, the university still admitted candidates who had chosen the College of Education, Ikere for the NCE programme for the 2020/2021 session. The university runs a collegiate system and it has three colleges, namely, College of Education, College of Science and College of Technology. The College of Education of BOUESTI oversees all education-related courses and the NCE programme/students inherited from the defunct College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti.”