Your ‘golden jubilee class’ is arriving in Alvan at arguably the best time in the history of this College in the past fifty years. – Dr. (Mrs.) B. C. Ijioma (Provost)
With the announcement of the national cut-off marks by the Joint Admissions and Matriculating Board (JAMB) for admission into tertiary institutions in Nigeria, the race is officially on for students to gain admissions into the various Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education around the country. The national cut-off marks announced at the Jamb Policy Meeting with the Honourable Minister of Education, Prof. (Mrs.) Ruquayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i and heads of institutions in attendance put the minimum UTME score to gain entry into the university (degree) at 180 and the minimum score to gain a place into a Polytechnic (ND) or College of Education (NCE) at 150.
Technically one can view these scores as requirements to sit the Post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (Post-UTME), so for the aspiring matriculant a score of 180 or above is not yet uhuru. The idea behind the Post-UTME is to ensure that only the best candidates gain admission into tertiary institutions. At Alvan Ikoku, we have, since the life of the current Management, conducted proper testing on prospective students and in this ‘Golden Jubilee year’ the culture of selecting only the best candidates available will be maintained.
Teacher training institutions like our College are the last bastion of hope for the educational system. If a society cannot produce credible and effective teachers to teach and nurture the next generation, such a society is on the path to decline. So at Alvan Ikoku, a ‘primus interpares’ among colleges of education, only students who have a passion for teaching and teacher education and have indicated thus by choosing our College in the UTME and perform excellently in the Post-UTME will be selected.
Since the Federal Government take-over of the College, we have continued to consolidate and grow in stature and excellence. Our hostels have become hygienic and habitable. Classrooms have been improved upon and several new lecture theatres constructed. The curriculum has been widened to include general studies courses like entrepreneurship and technical education. These are designed to imbue students with start-up skills when they graduate. New programmes like Special Education have come on board and practical aspects of certain courses, especially the sciences, have become important with trained Technologists deployed to ‘show’ students.
Coming to College in Alvan Ikoku in 2013, a student will be exposed to an enriching academic experience with still plenty of room for improvement. The Management has vowed to restore the College back to its glory days in the 1960s and 1970s. As the Provost, Dr. (Mrs.) B. C. Ijioma, told the matriculants at the last matriculation ceremony: “Your ‘golden jubilee class’ is arriving in Alvan at arguably the best time in the history of this College in the past fifty years.” This is true for the ‘golden jubilee class,’ it is even truer for the next batch of entrants.
But first there is the simple hurdle of scaling through the Post-UTME coming soon. If I were you, I would start ‘jacking.’
In Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri we make it a point of duty to continuously encourage our staff (lecturers, teachers, instructors, technologists and non-teaching staff) to constantly learn and develop themselves. Being a teacher-training institution, we are aware that teaching methods frequently change, theories are constantly being revised, new areas of study developed and fine-tuned. That is why the College has invested a fortune in training our staff. With over 100 Ph.ds teaching in the College, the culture of constant development has become entrenched in the institution. To encourage staff, the College has provided a conducive environment; staff are actively ‘pushed’ to study for higher degrees and professional certifications but most importantly mentoring is encouraged between the older and younger faculty. Among the comity of Colleges of Education in Nigeria the Alvan Ikoku faculty is highly respected and revered.
Mentoring is a pillar of academic studies. From as early as the Classical period, the relationship between Plato and Aristotle (mentor and mentee) was evident. Younger staff are thus encouraged to seek out knowledgeable elders with strong characters to mentor them. In the classroom, the Management has instituted the Team Teaching model, to help, among others, foster the mentor-mentee relationship, and give the students the best service available.
Merriam-Webster defines a mentor as “a trusted counselor or guide”, while Wikipedia expansively defines mentoring as “a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé).”
Mentor-Mentee relationships are a pivotal part of human society. Great leaders always attribute their success to having influential mentors at certain points in their life. A unique relationship, it is one in which the mentor and his protégée gain an enriching experience simultaneously. Previously mentorship was seen as a one sided arrangement where only the mentee had some learning to do. But modern social scholars now encourage the mentor to have an open mind and seek to learn from the usually younger disciple.
Alvan Ikoku encourages an informal mentoring system designed especially to enable new personnel to integrate speedily into the culture and ethics of the institution. Wikipedia, quoting Beverly and Jordan-Evans’ book Love Em or Lose Them, acclaims that “….new employees who are paired with a mentor are twice as likely to remain in their job than those who do not receive mentorship.”
Mentorship is also encouraged between staff and students. Many students have grown close to their teachers, and sometimes non-teaching staff, who inspire them, teach them and help them to navigate through the murky waters of youth and academic pursuits. Students are encouraged to seek out such relationships as they are beneficial and life-changing. In a society that is tilting towards ‘monetization’ of everything, students must realize that a mentor is not a ‘cash cow’ but a wellspring from which to tap ‘waters’ that cannot be quantified monetarily.
In Classical Greek history, Socrates was said to have mentored Plato, who in turn had a protégée in Aristotle that was alluded to earlier on. Aristotle then had the priviledge of mentoring young Prince Alexander of Macedonia, who later conquered the then known world, ruling an empire stretching from the Mediterranean to as far as the Steeps of modern day Afghanistan and became Alexander the Great. But the origin of the word is traced to Mentor, a friend of Odysseus, who taught Odysseus’ son Telemachus when he went away to fight in Troy as recorded in Homer’s Odyssey.
So the question is asked, are you a mentor or a mentee? Do you sacrifice your time and energy to inspire and teach younger colleagues and friends? As an ambitious young man or woman, do you seek out inspiring mentors to learn from their wisdom and experience? Education does not begin and end in the classroom.
When the College was established 50 years ago, its mandate was primarily to provide teachers of intermediate manpower level to cater for a deficit in that area. In other words our institution was set up to ‘train the trainers.’ This vision has guided the ethos of our College for half a century now, and from generation to generation Management and staff have understood this important role of a foremost teacher training institution in the educational universe of Nigeria.
To fully actualise the concept of training the trainers, the College runs demonstration satellite schools – a laboratory of sorts to develop and demonstrate teaching methods. They are AIFCE Kindergaten/Nursery School, AIFCE Staff Primary School and the Alvana Model Secondary School (AMSS). The Staff primary school was set up in 1983 and the secondary school started in October, 1994. The satellite schools were established to help teachers and students carry out their teaching practice activities, a major requirement for graduation, and to solve the educational needs of the staff and general public by providing professionally run schools at the three levels.
Since inception, the satellite schools have contributed immensely to the educational landscape of Owerri. They have gone beyond the original dreams of the College and become ‘model’ schools of choice for many parents in the State. Today, admission is keenly contested for and many children fail to secure a place because of the highly coveted but limited spaces available: spaces that go to the very best students who excel in the entrance tests.
The secondary school, styled the Alvana Model Secondary School, is arguably the pride of the College. The young men and women enrolled there regularly make the College proud in external examinations like the SSCE, in competitions like debates and quizzes and even in the sports arena. Recently, in 2011, the Management of the College sent a team of our budding student scientists to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a science project/exhibition where the students exhibited a mini refinery among other science project artifacts. At the last Science exhibition fair in Abuja organised by the Federal Ministry of Education, the AMSS was in full attendance along with other schools from across the federation.
From the foregoing it is obvious that the Satellite Schools have a healthy science orientation. This is because the Management recognizes the role of science and technology in an Information Age that is driven by the micro-chip and algorithms. Nonetheless, Art is still vigorously encouraged and many students are empowered to explore artistic endeavours – be it poetry, writing, acting, or the fine arts. During this year’s children’s day celebration, students from the AMSS were heard over the radio reading the news and anchoring a variety of programmes.
The current Management of the College has big dreams for the satellite schools. The Provost strongly believes that as a teacher training institution, the College must run the best primary and secondary school around. As the saying goes, “charity begins at home.” Thus the attention and care given to the Schools include improving the student – teacher ratio, upgrading the infrastructure, motivating the students and engendering an environment for optimal academic development.