Gets approval to run UNIBEN Masters Degree Programme in Education Related Courses
College of Education Agbor under the administration of Dr. Joseph Ukadike has added another feather to its cap by the recent approval granted them to run an affiliate University of Benin Master’s degree program in Education. In this exclusive interview, the Provost of the College, bare his mind on the recent development and its implication for the College in its quest to upgrade into a University of Education.
We hear College Of Education, Agbor has just got an approval letter from University to run a Master’s Degree programme in Education related courses, how true is that?
Yes, we have got approval for running of Master’s degree program of the University of Benin under the faculty of Education. We applied for it and the university has graciously approved the program to be situated at College of Education, Agbor.
We have Post Graduate Studies of University of Benin in affiliation with College of Education, Agbor, we will advertise for intakes soon, we are still putting finishing touches to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). We have got the letter of approval. It is good news for us.
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What courses will the programme offer?
There are courses like MSc Ed, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Integrated Science, Social Studies, Economics, Political Science, Mathematics, Guidance and Counseling, Educational Foundation, Business Education, Curriculum Studies, and the likes.
Any prospective student of this programme yet?
A lot of persons have indicated interest in the program. By this development, one can apply for NCE in College of Education, finish up and run a masters degree of UNIBEN, a Federal University.
What does this development mean for the College of Education Agbor?
It means that we have the needed man power, infrastructure and the resources for a University of Education. A team from UNIBEN came to the COE to inspect facilities, and they approve the facilities. As I speak, we have over 90 PhD holders amongst the teaching staff, most universities cannot boast of having such numbers. We have well educated and seasoned lecturers at the College.
How do you feel having such achievement in your tenure?
I feel good, I feel fulfilled. I am a son of the soil, after my tenure I can go back to the college and see the facilities I put on ground. I am greatly honoured that during my time, this program came on board. There are other programmes recently established like the 2017/2018 entrepreneurship and skill Acquisition which just kicked off this session. Towards December, their works may be ready for showcasing. On graduation, they will be given two certificates; one will centre on the skill acquired, such as fishery, shoemaking, confectionaries and others. For me, this is one of the major achievements of my administration.
Will this development expedite plans to make COE a University of Education?
Everyone involved is on the same page. On several occasions, our facilities have been inspected, and they are amazed with the lots of facilities on ground. The only thing left is a decision by the government. This is an appropriate time to make the call in order not to waste the facilities we have. Our NCCE intake is going down drastically; parents are no longer willing to send their children to study NCCE courses. They are all going for University education. Now that the college has affiliation for MSC program, I think it is a step forward and a positive direction.
Are there plans to include Ika language in the Curriculum?
Yes, there are plans to achieve that through the instrumentality of Onu Ika Nigeria. They came to us, and we encouraged them, so we wrote a letter to NCC for inspection and introduction of Ika language in the curriculum, while that was going on, Ndokwa people also approached us for inclusion of their language too, hence we accommodated both languages. A team has come for a resource visit from NCC; we are expecting their recommendation, so that we can start in the 2018/2019 session. The plans are already on ground, and I am sure it will be positive.
My only worry is the availability of students, because there is no need bringing in a course that we will find difficult to get students to study. Onu Ika and indeed Ika people will have to put in extra effort and create more awareness, so that students can come for the programme. Otherwise, our aims would be defeated. Allowing the course to go on without students is as good as nothing.
I want to categorically and authoritatively state that the outcome of the resource visit will be positive, any moment from now, Ika language will be introduced into the mainstream of the college courses as well as Ndokwa language.
Five years from now, what are your expectations for the College?
If God answers our prayers, we expect that after our governor, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, begins his 2nd term in office in 2019, all things being equal, the draft will take off. As you are aware, it is not just me agitating for the upgrade. Agbor Community sent a delegation to the governor on the same matter; so many other prominent Ika sons and daughters have also visited the governor on that. It is a political decision, so we are expecting that during the 2nd tenure of our governor, he will grant our request.
When that happens, a lot of things will change, many persons will benefit, Agbor Community and our host community will benefit. A lot of structures will be put on ground students’ hostel will be built, economic activities will increase, and recruitment of teaching/non teaching staff will take place. Agbor will now become a University town, and that will attract a lot of social amenities to the town and it’s environ.
What are the challenges of the College?
One of our basic challenges is the paucity of fund. The challenge is not limited to COE Agbor alone; it is well known that we are experiencing hard times. This has affected some of our duties .There are lots of things we would have done, but for lack of fund. The subventions are not enough, though the government is trying to keep us afloat. There are also challenges like offices for lecturers, lecture rooms and other facilities.
We also lack lecturers. Over the years, many lecturers have retired, teaching and non teaching, yet there are no replacements. It is telling on us, some departments do not have the man power because some of the lecturers have retired, while some have gone for greener pastures, some have passed on. We need the man power for the accreditation of courses. The effect is that, in the hierarchy, the top is now over loaded, a lot of principal lecturers, senior lecturers, whereas there are no lecturers down the line. This occurrence will have a very drastic effect in the future because we do not have younger ones to mentor. Lecturing is all about mentoring. We seriously lack the man power because we do not have the young ones that will take over when the elderly ones retire. Employment of staff to strategic areas is a strong challenge. NCCE commented on that when they came for accreditation.
What is the relationship of the College with the Host Community?
We are all working in unity. There is a cordial working relationship. The host community is happy. Sometime this year, the whole of Alihame community met and came to my house with drinks and tubers of yam to thank me for the kind of development they are experiencing. They have even made land available to us in case we will need it for the future projects. They also have the belief that the College will one day be turned into a University of Education
We also enjoy relative peace in the campus, no acrimony, promotions come as at when due. The College has taken training, welfare of staff, and promotions very seriously and I think that has brought a lot of peace amongst staff and students. Everyone feels at home with one another. Since I came on board, there has never been a strike targeted against me or my management. There is relative peace. On annual bases, we go to the host community to appreciate them, no matter the lean resources.