THE Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) Abduullahi Baffa says Colleges of Education in Nigeria must work towards attaining high academic standard as well as other criteria for a degree awarding institutions rather than clamouring to be changed into a university through mere name change.
Baffa who spoke while receiving Fellowship award from Adeyemi College of Education (ACE), Ondo State and commissioning four completed TETFund projects, explained that while some colleges of education in Nigeria can measure up to some universities, becoming a degree or higher degree awarding institutions goes beyond policy announcement.
Disclosing that TETFund has sponsored over 150 lecturers of Adeyemi College of Education for their Doctorate Degrees within and outside Nigeria, he advised that Colleges of Education as well as Polytechnics in the country, desirous of upgrading to degree awarding institutions must be ready to work hard and earn the licence and charter for such.
“Adeyemi College of Education is shoulder to shoulder with many universities in Nigeria. We are the ones spending the money, we know the number of scholars and lecturers that we have sponsored in this college to pursue higher degrees. We know the number of lecturers we have sponsored for Masters Degrees, for Ph.D at home and abroad in this institution.
“When the registrar was mentioning about 150 Ph.D, our records have shown a little more than 150 Ph.D that we sponsored and in many universities, you don’t have up to 150 Ph.D lecturers. In almost all the new universities, both state and federal owned, none of them can beat their chest and say we have fulltime, tenured-track lecturers 150 of them with Ph.D.
So in terms of staff mix, in terms of experience, in terms of infrastructure, Adeyemi College of Education is shoulder to shoulder with many universities, and ahead of quite a number of universities,” Baffa said.
However, on the move by managers of the College to make it a University of Education, the TETFund boss noted that it is a dream that may be achieved in the future when the right steps are taken.
“The transition of Adeyemi College of Education to a university, as controversial as it is, is something that will have to be achieved in future. Simply put, we have to establish a system that would allow institutions to maintain their identities while at the same time having the licence or the charter to operate as a university.
“Columbia Teachers College is an Ivy League University, awarding Masters and Doctorate degrees but it is called Columbia Teachers College. Nobody said you must change Columbia Teachers College to Columbia University of Education.
“The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is called Institute of Technology. It is an Ivy League University, it is doing Ph.D, Maters Degree and all degrees, nobody changed its name but it has the licence and charter to run as a university without changing its name.
“So nobody said Adeyemi College of Education must change its name, it is not in the name, it is in the composition, it is in the mix, and it is in the infrastructure, processes, quality and standard.
“What was done in the United Kingdom in the early 80s when they wanted to change or rather to upgrade their polytechnics and colleges to a university was that they instituted a programme, all the polytechnics and colleges were given conditions to fulfil and these conditions were all about quality assurance.
“What should the minimum entry qualification for a lecturer be when you are employing a new staff? How many Ph.Ds, how many Professors, what should be the staff mix over a period of time? What sorts of standard should you have in terms of infrastructure? How do you upgrade your curriculum to be able to reach that standard for awarding degree? All these conditions were made before these polytechnics and colleges.
“Special funding was also introduced to assist them to meet the standard of infrastructure requirement, to meet the teacher training requirement, if you like capacity building requirement, to meet the curriculum conversion requirement, special funding was introduced and they were given 10yrs for this. 9yrs into the programme, the first polytechnic qualified to be converted into a university in 1990 because they started in 1981. In 1991 over 20 also met the requirements and they were converted.
“We can’t wake up overnight and make a policy announcement that we are converting so and so College, so and so Polytechnic into a university and go and put a signboard, change letter headed papers and say it is a university, it is not done so, it is done based on program, based on planning, based on processes, based on quality assurance and I think once such standard are set, once such processes are put in place, it is going to take much shorter time for Adeyemi College of Education to fulfil all requirements and be given the licence, the charter to operate as a university without necessarily changing its name or its identity.
“Identity is very crucial to the certificate that you are issuing, you cannot kill the identity of a college with over 50,000 of alumni, with many of them working all over the world because this is a College that has its alumni working as Principals in Ghana, as Principals in Gambia, as teachers in Benin Republic, as lecturers in all universities in Nigeria and as professionals outside the country, now to change the name and all these alumni will be saying we are Alumni of former college of education, Why?
“You can’t deny the Alumni of this institution their own identity and their identify should live in perpetuity and Pa (Canon) Moses C. Adeyemi will be turning in his grave if anything should happen to the quality, the competence, the identity of this college because this college was named after one of the best teachers that Nigeria has ever produced.
“I think the college community, the community of scholars here should sit down and rethink the future of this institution.
“I told quite a number of the Provosts and Rectors of the senior colleges of education and polytechnics that, you need to start a programme so that when government comes up with its plan for this ascension you would have been ahead in your preparations to become a licenced degree awarding, higher degree awarding education institution.”
Early, the Executive Secretary while receiving the Fellowship award from the College, said that he was proud to receive such from the best ranked College of Education in Nigeria on behalf of TETFund because TETFund truly deserves such honour.
He praised the outgoing Provost of the College, Olukoya Ogen for his purposeful and transparent leadership in the college which was evidenced in the presence of the academic community to support him even to his last day in office and prompt completion of TETFund projects which were commissioned as part of the programme.
New Health Centre Building, a 500 seater Auditorium, Block of offices for School of Languages, fully furnished with external works, Rehabilitated and Furnished classrooms for Y-Block of the College were the projects commissioned.