•Ezeife, other stakeholders canvass for elevation of FCE (T) Umunze to a university, as Obiano bags award and NCCE Secretary harps on qualitative teacher education
By Sam Otti
The former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has called on the federal government to elevate the Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze, Anambra State, to a full-fledged special University of Education (Technical). He said such step would widen students’ access to higher degrees in technical education and equip them with employable skills.
Dr Ezeife made the appeal during the special silver jubilee celebration, which was part of the activities that heralded the recent 23rd convocation ceremony of the college. Speaking on the topic, “The Nascent of Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze in the South East of Nigeria: The Growth, Impacts and Strategic Plans for Tomorrow,” he noted that the college stood a better chance of becoming a centre of excellence for quality vocational, technical and science education programme in the south east geo-political zone of the country.
The pioneer Provost of the college, who is currently the traditional ruler of Azia community, Prof. Titus Eze, had at the silver jubilee celebration also called for the upgrading of the college to a University of Education. The former Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Boniface Egboka, and chairman of the pre-convocation lecture, while expressing satisfaction with the college’s improved state of infrastructure, also pleaded that it be granted the autonomy to award degree in order to satisfy the increasing yearning for higher education by Nigerian students. He added that under the leadership of Prof Josephat Ogbuagu, the institution has developed the pedigree and capacity to become a university, with focus on vocational, technical and science subjects.
Addressing guests and top officials of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) at the convocation lecture, the Provost of the College, Prof Ogbuagu, said the enrolment into the institution has increased progressively, especially with the introduction of the degree programme in affiliation with Nnamdi Azikiwe University. He said the College has a crop of dedicated staff who work tirelessly to produce sound graduates in NCE, Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) and degree.
The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Prof Bappa-Aliyu Muhammadu, who was the guest lecturer, stressed the need to focus on qualitative teacher education to provide quality teachers for the change agenda. He called for clear definition of the professional standard of the teaching profession, which should be sustained through teachers associations in the country.
Speaking on the theme, “Qualitative Teacher Education and Entrepreneurship in Contemporary Nigerian Society”, the Executive Secretary noted that the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, in conjunction with other agencies, must work out ways and means of improving the position of teachers, noting that there was need for teachers with intellectual and professional background that would add value to the profession. He said today’s teachers must have thorough knowledge of their chosen subject matters if they would command the respect of their students.
The Executive Secretary further explained that sometimes, students protest ineffective teaching shown by their respective classroom teachers. To improve the quality of teacher education, he called on schools to allow for breadth and depth in curriculum content, which are the basis for effective teachers and teaching while he urged teachers to keep learning so as to become authority in the school environment.
Prof. Muhammadu said research findings have shown that teaching is still mainly done through the lecture method only, instead of the suggestions given in different curricula. He argued that any teaching strategy that encourages pupils and students to be passive listeners all the time remains injurious to the entire educational enterprise.
During the occasion, the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano was conferred with a distinguished Fellowship award of the college. The management of the college said the Fellowship award, the highest in the college, is exclusively for select personalities who have proved their mettle in their areas of engagement. The Provost, Prof Josephat Ogbuagu, said the award was bestowed on the governor in recognition of his laudable roles in the education sector of the state and the college in particular.
Responding, Governor Obiano thanked the College for the honour. Noting that education remains a critical enabler in his administration that holds the key to optimal youth development in the state, he urged the graduating students to take advantage of skills acquisition programmes introduced by his administration to become entrepreneurs that would add value to the society.
A total of 2058 students graduated from the NCE Regular, Sandwich, Continued Education Programme, CEP, and Professional Diploma in Education, PDE programmes of the College between 2012 and 2016, participated in the convocation ceremony.
The Visitor to the College and Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who was represented by the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Prof. Bappa-Aliyu Muhammadu congratulated the graduands, even as he charged them to always justify their training from the foremost college by opting to practise their profession with zeal for the benefit of the nation.