LAGOS – The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday lauded the Federal Government’s upgrading of four colleges of education into universities of education, but added that it was belated.
A former ASUU President, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the upgrading was long overdue.
NAN reports that the Federal Executive Council had on May 20 approved the conversion of four Federal Colleges of Education to universities.
President Goodluck Jonathan presided over the meeting.
The affected colleges of education include Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo; Federal College of Education, Zaria.
Also upgraded to universities are Federal College of Education, Kano, and the Alvan Ikoku College of Education Owerri.
According to the former ASUU chief, the purpose for converting the colleges at this period might not be realised with a few days to the end of the current administration.
“I think the upgrading of these colleges of education into universities is in order, as we indeed need more access.
“But I think it is coming a bit late for an administration that has just a few days to go.
“Such due cushion ought to have come earlier than now, so that the same government will be able to make budgetary allocations for its effective implementation.
“I do not want to believe that this development is to score some political point.
“Because we are all aware that this country had challenges of teacher production, and we do not seem to do anything about it so far.
“I would have thought that rather than keep establishing more universities at this point in time, all we need to do is seek means of improving on existing ones,” Awuzie said.
The don said, however, that the conversion of the colleges to universities was in order, as it was going to remove pressure from other universities.
He advised the government to seek means of making the teaching profession more glamorous.
The university lecturer said that the public had poor perception of the profession because of the poor attention being given to teaching and the teachers.
Awuzie said that for government to attract and encourage the youth to take to the teaching profession, it must ensure that the right environment for teaching and learning was created in such universities.
He said that the remuneration of the trainers of these teachers should also be reviewed upwardly, with up-to- date facilities put in place, to bring out the best in them.
According to him, this will serve as a model to young Nigerians who aspire to become teachers, rather than allowing them to see it as avenue of obtaining certificates to seek for jobs.
He said that converting more colleges to university status was not the ultimate.
:Rather, attention should be paid to the challenges that come with the proliferation and the unwarranted bureaucracies”, he said.
A former Minister of Education, Prof. Chinwe Obaji, also said that the development was in the right direction, adding that government must strive to match word with action.
According to her, for such universities to match its status, government must ensure that the right tools were in place.
“Government must ensure that qualified and adequate management members of staff are on ground, to manage such universities.
“We must also ensure that the Vice-Chancellors of the universities are also well qualified and are chosen on merit.
“There is also the need for us to also pay attention to the technology sector, by ensuring that technical education is taken seriously from the basic level, and encourage the children to be innovative,” she said.
Mr Samuel Akindele, a Lecturer at the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Lagos, said that the upgrading of the colleges to universities was laudable.
Akindele said that the upgrade was understandable because the four colleges of education had been producing degree students while affiliated to other universities since the 90s.
According to him, the pronouncement will further strengthen the dichotomy between the university, polytechnics and colleges of education.
“Unfortunately in Nigeria, we do not treasure the products of colleges of education like their university counterparts.
“And that is the dilemma we have in our education system today,’’ he said.
Akindele, who was the National President, Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) from 1996 to 2000, said that the union had laid bare this proposal.
According to him, the colleges of education were demanding that they be licenced to award degree certificates.
“What we need is not the name; colleges of education should be treated as colleges of education and still produce degree students.
“But unfortunately, it is the name that is required in our country.
“If you go to Ghana, colleges of education produce degree students, likewise Western countries,’’ he said.
Akindele said that colleges of education in the states had the wherewithal to produce degree students.
“In 1999, I was oportuned to be at the Senate to present the statistics of the lecturers with PhD in the universities and in colleges of education.
“I got over 14 universities with lesser PhD holders than colleges of education.
“As at that time, Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, had 62 PhD holders, Alvan Ikoku, Owerri, had 57 and Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, had 47 PhD holders. (NAN)
you may also like: