From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Dr. Isaiah Kolawole, rector, Gateway Polytechnic (ICT), Saapade, Ogun State, says the school has developed zero tolerance for cultism and other acts of violence on campus. He spoke with The Education Report.
Admission and academic
At Gateway Polytechnic (ICT), Saapade, we run our session from September to July every year. But COVID-19 pushed it to November. It is easy for any applicant to gain admission into the institution as long as they are qualified. We run both full-time and part-time programmes. Our consideration for ND is a good score in the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and a minimum of five credits in West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in relevant subjects. Because this is an ICT school, we have quite a number of ICT courses they (students) have to go through first before they start their courses. We usually screen out bad eggs after admission; that’s why social violence is very minimal here. Cultism on campus is zero and most of the students we admit are the serious ones.
Students’ safety on and off
We don’t run the school as a public school when it comes to safety; we run it like a private school. We have inculcated discipline in our students, in fact, it’s an offence for any student to see lecturers and not greet them. We have also told our lecturers to guide the students well because they are the future leaders.
Outside the campus, there’s a community relationship that enables the students to behave properly within the community and they are also being monitored. We work with the community; we work with law enforcement agencies. There is security within the campus. We have warned the students not to work in the night.
We do a lot of things to secure and guide the students within the community and on campus. We have strict rules on campus and that’s why you see the campus very neat. No students can drop waste on the ground anyhow. We look at training for these students in its entirety, not only in terms of academic activities. We have achieved a sane environment so everybody knows what to do at the right time.
Accreditation of courses
All our programmes, about 30 of them, are fully accredited and they are on JAMB and NYSC lists. The National Diploma and Higher National Diploma courses were accredited by the National Board for Technical Education. We will invite the NBTE to come and accredit more programmes.
Infrastructure and environment
When I assumed office, the infrastructure was very poor and the students were few. But when I came in, my desire was to have more students on campus. I could not bring more students unless I provided more infrastructure and I had no other source of income than the IGR, the money my students paid.
I had to strike a balance between staff and students’ welfare and running the school and increasing the number of programmes. It’s a very delicate balance we have to maintain. For the new programmes we want to start, we have already put resources in place.
New programmes awaiting NBTE’s approval
One of the programmes we are about to start is Renewable Energy Engineering. We have been on it for some time; we have purchased all the equipment to equip all the laboratories. Also for Mass Communication, we are going to start awarding HND in Mass Communication. And the National Board for Technical Education itself has just introduced new programme that we want them to come and approve for us too.
New automated mechanical
When Governor Dapo Abiodun visited the polytechnic, he was happy. He encouraged us with what he said and since then we have improved a lot. The governor gave us his vision. He said he wanted us to concentrate on engineering, mechanical, electrical and other engineering courses. We have keyed into his vision. We are investing in engineering a lot. We are even trying to do some commercialisation so that the students can see the practical work going on.
Coping with COVID-19
When the pandemic started, we had to adjust our work and teaching methods; we went online. We have a portal on which we run online programmes. We used Google Classroom and some other social media platforms. We got the students on their toes throughout the period of lockdown. By the time they came back, they commenced their second semester examination because they received most of the lectures online. So, we didn’t have any issue. Also, during the pandemic, we designed and fabricated some mobile dispensers.
We also produced some mechanical hand-washing machines.
But beyond COVID-19, we are trying to do some things that are novel. We want to produce machines that will make life easier for us. Each time I drive through the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, I see sand taking over half of the road when we can have machines that will pass through that place and suck it out. We can invent a little machine that will work for us. We should be able to think as a nation and come up with inventions that will make life easier for us, but as it is now nobody is doing anything. This is what other nations do.
ICT, apps and software
All the things we do about ICT on our campus, we do it ourselves. All the computer programmes that we run on our campus are written by our students and staff and there are so many of them. For example, our exam is 100 per cent perfect because the biometric that we use is good and that reduces impersonation to zero. Before you enter the exam hall, the laptop will bring out student details through fingerprint, that’s our product, and a lot of others.
All our registrations are done online; you won’t see anywhere on campus where they are registering manually. Even human resources programme, which enables me to tap my phone, is already being perfected. We are also coming up with biometric attendance system for students and staff. Attendance will be through thumbprinting and at the end of the day any student who does not meet up to 70 per cent attendance, the system will show it. We have done a lot in terms of software development.
IGR and project funding
Though most of our projects are achieved through direct labour, we appreciate the Ogun State Government for helping us in executing some of the things we have achieved. I am the chief engineer and I supervise other engineers in putting the projects in place.
I have a philosophy that you must not allow anything to stop you from attaining whatever you want to achieve. When I came in 2014, if I had waited for someone or government to give me funds to put projects in place, we would still be where we were in 2014. I have a team of selfless and hard-working staff working with me.