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Monthly Archives: March 2013

CHINUA ACHEBE: THERE WAS A MAN

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The Whiteman is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.– Chinua Achebe

In 2008 the literary world in Nigeria celebrated 50 years of the publishing of Things Fall Apart, the debut novel of Chinua Achebe, that not only opened the flood gates for African writers but told the African story from an authentic African perspective. Things Fall Apart was not the first novel written by an African but Achebe is regarded as the father of African literature because the story of Okonkwo was so evocative and illustrative of the African experience in the face of colonialism, and presented Africa to the world from our own standpoint. Things Fall Apart, first published in 1958, became a seminal work and went on to sell 10 million copies worldwide, was translated into over 45 languages and became the most widely read African novel of our time.

Achebe famously said, “If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.” And not only did he write the African story he inspired the entire African continent to write. With the success of Things Fall Apart, Heinemann, his British publishers, appointed young Achebe editor of the legendary African Writers Series that hosted writers from the Cape to Cairo, from Elechi Amadi to Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

Poignantly, Achebe once told the story of how Things Fall Apart was almost never published. Speaking to the Paris Review, he narrated how while working at the Nigerian Broadcasting Service in the 1950s, he sent the only handwritten copy of the draft he had to London for it to be typed, and for months he got no reply. Frustrated, he reported to his boss who was returning to London for holidays. But for the intervention of the woman, a Mrs. Beattie, maybe Nelson Mandela would not have had a story to read in his prison cell. For Mandela, Achebe was “the writer in whose company the prison walls came down.”

Chinualumogu Albert Achebe was born in Ogidi, Anambra State on November 16, 1930. He went on to study at the prestigious Government College, Umuahia and the University College, Ibadan. At Ibadan he had a scholarship to study medicine but later changed to English, history and theology. As a student, Achebe started writing short stories and edited a couple of student magazines. Later, when he got a job at the Nigerian Broadcasting Service in Lagos, his position at the Talks department helped him further hone his writing skills.

After the civil war, Achebe went to teach at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). The Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education has been in affiliation with the UNN  since 1983. After retiring from Nsukka in 1982, Prof. Achebe tried his hands in politics, joining the left leaning People’s Redemption Party (PRP) in the Second Republic. Since the 1980’s he had been teaching in several universities abroad.

That Achebe penned his most famous novel, Things Fall Apart  at 28 years of age was indicative of his genius.  “Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings” (Things Fall Apart). Even though he never won the Nobel Prize for Literature he was awarded several literary prizes. Some of which are the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Man Booker International Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, the Nigerian National Order of Merit. He also had dozens of honourary degrees from universities in Nigeria, America, England, Canada and South Africa.

In 1990, in Lagos, Achebe had a road traffic accident and was flown to England where after extensive treatment he ended up in a wheelchair. Thereafter he took up appointment at Bard College in America as Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature. In 2009, after about 15 years at Bard, Achebe became the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University also in America. He was at Brown until his death on March 22nd 2013.

President Goodluck Jonathan paid glowing tribute to the man he described as “globally acclaimed writer, scholar, tutor, cultural icon, nationalist and artist of the very first rank…”  The President speaking through his media assistant, Reuben Abati said, “Prof. Achebe fearlessly spoke the truth as he saw it and became, as he advanced in age, a much revered national icon and conscience of the nation who will be eternally honoured for his contributions to national discourse as well as the immense fame and glory he brought to his fatherland.”

Prof. Wole Soyinka and J. P. Clark, writing in the Guardian UK mourned: “For us, the loss of Chinua Achebe is, above all else, intensely personal. We have lost a brother, a colleague, a trailblazer and a doughty fighter.”

Achebe was intellectually active until his death. In 2011, he published his last book, a personal memoir, There was a Country. Indeed, there was a man.

                                 Turning and turning in the widening gyre
                                 The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
                                Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

                                        W.B.Yeats, The Second Coming.

 

 

The College Counseling and Human Development Centre

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Dr. (Mrs.) Pat Nwamuo

The Alvan College Counselling and Human Development Centre was established by the Management of the College on 21st September, 2012 based on the directives of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), with the guideline of the Federal Ministry of Education.

The College Counselling Centre offers a wide range of voluntary and confidential counseling services to the students and the entire College community. The Centre was designed to help students cope with the challenges in their personal, academic, social, physical and spiritual life which could affect development of the general wellbeing.

The Centre has a team of professionally trained personnel, both counselors and administrative staff. The counselors are there to offer a variety of in-house counseling services to the College community with the goal of resolving client’s difficulties as well as assist students in achieving personal and academic success.

The Centre’s services are all confidential:  information shared with the Counselling Centre will not be released without written consent. The services provided at the Centre are delivered through individual counselling, group counselling, seminar presentations and workshops. The focus of the Centre is to promote human development through self-accomplishment.

We encourage students and the College community to visit our office if you need help or if you would like to talk. We can assist you with achieving your academic goals and empower you to reach your personal potential by offering assistance in the following:

  • Student behavior skill
  • Crisis intervention
  • Short-term individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Alcohol and other drug counseling
  • Referral
  • Coping with stress
  • Peer education
  • Consultations
  • Anxiety and depression management
  • Finances
  • Community service

The Counselling Centre is located at the new TETFund building, 2nd floor wing B. Services are available Mondays to Friday, from 9am to 4pm.

 

WOMEN’S DAY: CELEBRATING THE WOMEN OF ALVAN

If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation).  Fanti proverb  (Ghana)

On March 8th of every year, the International Women’s day (IWD) is celebrated worldwide to mark the achievements of women in political, economic and social spheres. It is an official United Nations day for women’s rights and world peace. This year’s event was closely followed by the Mother’s Day on March 10 in Protestant churches nationwide, making the weekend of March 8th – 10th an extraordinary period for appreciating women both in the society and in the church.

In her message on the IWD, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, called Nigerian women “heroines” of the nation. She also thanked the President for appointing 13 women as Ministers (including the Minister of Education, Prof. (Mrs.) Ruqquyyatu. A. Rufa’i), the highest number of women ever  in a Cabinet in the history of the nation.

In Alvan we also have amazons who are not only holding significant positions in the College but also effectively driving the system. Several of the Deans and Directors in the College are women. The Dean of Education, Dr. (Mrs.) P. Nkwocha; The Dean of Agriculture and Vocational Studies, Dr. (Mrs.) G. Onyemaobi; The Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. (Mrs.) R. Iwu; The Director for Continuing Education, Dr. (Mrs.) M.N. Obasi; The Director of Counselling Services, Dr. (Mrs.) P. Nwamuo and  the Director of Health Services, Dr. (Mrs.) C. O. N. Okoro. The College also has many female Heads of Departments and Units.

In the non-academic section, these amazons dominate the Registry. The College  has a female Registrar, Mrs. Ada Aguta, a consummate administrator with several decades of experience, who has always performed her duties with quiet dignity and confidence. She is supported by Deputy Registrars of which over three quarters are women.

Recently, in 2009, the proverbial glass ceiling was shattered when the College welcomed its first female Provost and Chief Executive, the affable Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing C. Ijioma. She assumed the job of Provost after a long line of men dating from 1963.

Thus in the Golden Jubilee year of the College, when the  International Women’s Day 2013 has declared the year’s theme as The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum,  AIFCE is happy to have kept up the momentum with a healthy percentage of women occupying positions of authority and influence.

Very importantly, it must be stated that the College has a population of over 80% female students and historically has been known as a centre of excellence for women’s education. In the past fifty years, the College can assuredly boast that it has played a huge role in developing the nation by consistently training girls and women who have gone on to become, aside from reputed professionals, celebrated wives and mothers. The old Ghanaian proverb avows “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation).” And George Washington, the first President of America famously averred, “All I am I owe to my mother…I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”

So at Alvan, we understand that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world and we make sure that our students – predominantly female – are given the best of teacher education available anywhere in the country.

We wish all our mothers a happy mother’s day and a better future to all girls and women out there. The sky is just your starting point.

THE CASE FOR ENTREPRENUERSHIP EDUCATION

“Be a King. Dare to be Different, dare to manifest your greatness.”    – Jaachynma N.E. Agu, The Prince and the Pauper 

In her speech to the matriculating class of 2013 held recently in the College, the Provost, Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing C. Ijioma avowed, “Today, survival is dependent on how flexible you are, how vast your knowledge base is and the practical demonstration of your skills. We have introduced entrepreneurship studies in the curriculum to help hone your start-up skills…” This is in line with global best practices and a solution in this bumpy world economy where white-collar jobs are no more secure nor are they the way forward to drive economic emancipation. Graduates are no more guaranteed employment and there are instances of people going five to ten years in the unemployment market. Unemployment now casts an unsavory shadow both in Nigeria and the first world countries of Europe and America. And the solution or the way forward is a focus on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education.

The National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) recognized the need to restructure the curriculum to fit the unique times we are in and introduced entrepreneurship education.  Here in Alvan we have set up an entrepreneurship studies unit headed by Mrs. Blessing Nwaiwu, a senior academic with a background in Business Studies. The department situated in the School of General Studies is basically charged with kindling and sparking the entrepreneurship skills of our students.

In today’s digital driven ecosystem, the legends of society are entrepreneurs like Bill Gates (who started Microsoft in his father’s garage), Steve Jobs (who invented the iMac, iPhone and iPad and is known for his creativity) and Leo Stan Eke (Imo State born owner of Zinox computers).

These people are celebrated not because they became wealthy but because they learned to think outside of the box, go against the grain, look inward and find their hidden talents and deploy it to create wealth. This is what entrepreneurship studies seeks to engender.

In a paper delivered in November, 2011 on women empowerment and national development, the Provost affirmed “The propensity to behave entrepreneurially is not exclusive to certain individuals. Different individuals will have a different mix of capabilities for demonstrating and acquiring entrepreneurial behaviours, skills and attributes. These behaviours can be practical, developed and learned; hence it is important to expose all students to entrepreneurship education.”

Across the world entrepreneurship education as part of higher education curriculum is now a regular fare and if countries with relatively low unemployment problems can redesign their educational needs, it is most cogent that we in Nigeria must not hesitate any longer. To mitigate the unemployment problem in Nigeria our students are now taught start-up skills, emphasis laid on practical knowledge and creativity, and the historical entrepreneurial orientation of the South Easterners cultivated to accelerate development; that is the direction of twenty-first century education. That is what we have set out to do here in Alvan especially as we mark Fifty years of providing quality education in Nigeria.