A news commentary broadcast on Radio Nigeria Heartland FM, Owerri on the UN Day (24th October, 2014)
Immediately after the second World War, the Allied Powers comprising a coalition of Britain, China, USSR, USA and France, also referred to as Super Powers which defeated Italy, Germany and Japan decided to set up an international peace-keeping body known as the United Nations Organisation as a replacement for the then ineffective League of Nations. The United Nations, as an intergovernmental international organisation was founded on 24th October, 1945 to promote international cooperation and committed to maintaining international peace and security, development of friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.
In a bid to achieve the objectives of the organisation, the UNO charter provided for six major bodies. These are the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. Others are the Trusteeship Council, the Secretariat and the International Court for the promotion of peace and security.
Although best known for peacekeeping, peace building, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its specialized agencies, funds and programmes affect every human society and make the world a better place. The organisations work on a broad range of fundamental issues from sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief, counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, to promotion of democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, governance, economic and social development and international health, clearing landmines, expanding food production, and more, in order to achieve its goals and co-ordinate efforts for a safer world for the present and future generations.
In order to make known to the peoples of the world the aims and achievements of the 193 member nation body and to gain support for its work, the UN General Assembly in 1947 declared October 24 annually the anniversary of the charter of the organisation. This explains why the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, which has a history closely tied to the United Nations has decided to give today, Friday, 24 October, 2014 a pride of place in the academic calendar.
A journey down memory lane reveals that in 1963, when the then Eastern Region Government of Nigeria established the Advanced Teachers Training College, in the old Shell Camp quarters, Owerri, it was with the technical assistance from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The first Principal, Mr. A. J. Brooks was a UNESCO expatriate who laid the foundations for an institution that has today grown in leaps and bounds to become the best College of Education in the country. Under the tutelage of the Federal Government, the college has become a centre of excellence in teacher and girl-child education. It is thus fitting that the College joins millions of others across the globe to celebrate the UN Day with pomp and pageantry. A number of activities such as dance drama, quiz and debate competition, march-pasts, art exhibition, raising of the UN flag, and a key note lecture all anchored on the UN ethos have been lined up by the College to mark the Day as a way of expressing its recognition of the UN for its pivotal role through the UNESCO in the establishment of the College and for more partnership even as the College strategises for advancement to the next level.
The observance of the UN Day in our College for the first time, is a fallout from the golden jubilee celebrations of our College last year. During the jubilee year we realized the need to aggressively reach out and network with organisations, institutions and agencies; governmental, non-governmental and inter-governmental. This is the modern trend in higher education where linkages and collaborations are leveraged to broaden horizons and to interface with different cultures. In the case of the UN, a close collaboration will enable us to better contribute our quota to Nigeria’s efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
This year, the UN has chosen the theme of “Global Citizenship and Youth” for its anniversary. It is one that is paramount in today’s ICT powered globalised world. It is equally one that Alvan is inculcating in her students and personnel. Premised on this, Alvan staff are sponsored to higher degrees, attendance of conferences and workshops in different countries of the world. For example in 2013, for the first time in fifty years, a batch of students and lecturers were sponsored to the United Arab Emirates to interact with students and lecturers in other international universities. In addition, Alvan has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Vancouver Island University, British Columbia, Canada to develop the College Special Education Department among others. This is with a view to producing graduates who are second to none in learning and character, who will understand the need to live in peace, respect for human rights, gender equality and women empowerment; the need for tolerance, economic and social development, self-reliance as well as the need to imbibe the fundamental ideals of the UN.
To this extent, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri wishes all peoples of the world a happy United Nations Day celebration.
As part of the activities to mark their 2014 Founders’ Day, AMSS students interviewed the Provost. Presented here is a transcript of the chat.
AMSS: Goodmorning madam Provost, may we use this opportunity to congratulate you on your well-deserved second tenure in office. Do you foresee new challenges?
Provost: Thank you my children. All glory goes to God who has made it possible for us to have a second tenure to complete the good work started in Alvan. Of course there are always challenges springing up. One of them is the need to make AMSS a world class secondary school with boarding facilities and modern laboratories for science, technology and computing.
AMSS: The WAEC result for 2014 in Nigeria was poor at 31.1%. What do you have to say about Alvana’s performance at 100% success?
Provost: The excellent result from AMSS is an indicator that there are young Nigerians who are willing to work hard and succeed in their studies if the right environment and support is provided for them. We are glad that the efforts of the College Management in creating a conducive learning environment in AMSS are bearing fruit. Congratulations to all our WAEC graduates. I challenge the 2015 set to perform better.
AMSS: We hear that the College is putting up logistics to add the word “Demonstration” to the usual name of Alvana Model secondary School. How quickly will this become official?
Provost: As soon as possible the change will be effected. AMSS has always been a Demonstration Centre where our students go to hone their teaching skills via Teaching Practice and Internships.
AMSS: Looking at AIFCE from AMSS, it’s a short distance but getting to it becomes a long distance. What efforts have your administration made to close the “long distance” and how soon can it be accomplished?
Provost: Very soon the College and the AMSS will be physically connected. We have two bridges in construction and both have reached the 60% mark. Building bridges are expensive and demand plenty of technical expertise so that is why the process seems slow. But we will soon be there.
AMSS: The School is located on a very busy highway, most students come to school by public transport. What can your administration do in the area of provision of school buses to alleviate the suffering?
Provost: We are looking at the possibility of getting buses for the school in the future. But right now we are seriously working to upgrade the physical facilities by building more classrooms, laboratories, workshops and offices for now. All these facilities also enhance the status of the AMSS.
AMSS: The school is growing and moving on a fast lane, what efforts have your administration made to enhance teachers’ performance through on the job training of teachers, workshops and conferences.
Provost: Here in AIFCE we take staff training very seriously. The Principal was sponsored to Singapore recently. Other teachers have also attended workshops and seminars while many others are studying for master’s degrees.
AMSS: Alvana is a household school name today in Imo State and beyond. The lack of hostel facilities, security and staff quarters has discouraged some parents from bringing in their wards to our school. This lack of hostel has also made our SS1 female students change to Federal Government Girls’ Colleges. Are there plans in your programmes to change this situation?
Provost: Plans are afoot to turn AMSS into a residential school. That has always been my vision for the school.
AMSS: We see you are rapidly developing infrastructure in our school – what yet is lacking in making our school an international secondary school?
Provost: We are on the path to achieving international status for AMSS. As the primus interpares of Colleges of Education in Nigeria, it behoves that our demonstration centres must be international class. Experienced teachers, excellent facilities, immaculate boarding accommodation and international best practices as it relates to teaching and learning are some of the ingredients needed. We have made great strides in the last few years, though it is not yet uhuru.
All over the world, October 24 is observed as the United Nations (UN) Day with celebrations, music and drama festivities, speeches and the raising of the UN flag among several other activities. The UN Day is an epochal date on the global calendar as it marks the formal inauguration of an organisation sworn to world peace and harmony.
On October 24, 1945 the United Nations was formed when the five permanent members (France, China, Soviet Union, United Kingdom and United States) of the Security Council ratified the UN Charter. This led to the liquidation of the ill-fated League of Nations formed at the end of the First World War (1914-1918), and which failed to stop the nations of the world embarking on World War II.
Beginning from 1948, the United Nations Day has been celebrated all over the world to highlight and bring to prominence the good work of the UN family and its 16 agencies like the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) which provided technical assistance during the establishment of the Advanced Teacher Training College, Owerri, now Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education in 1963.
AIFCE is indeed a child of the UN as the first two Principals (later to be called Provost) and the first Librarians were UNESCO expatriate staff. Our history cannot be complete without the contributions of the UN. It thus behoves the College to join all other organisations around the world in the celebrations of October 24.
Here in AIFCE, several activities are lined up to mark the 2014 celebrations: dance drama by a student troupe, quiz and debate competitions, march-pasts, art exhibition, raising of the UN flag, and a keynote lecture. All these activities will be centered on the UN ethos which has the theme of this year’s celebration as Global Citizenship and Youth. Alvan Ikoku FCE, Owerri being the premier college of education in Nigeria and a centre for the training of young people, is keen to tap into the UN ideal of global citizenship, especially for the youth.
The UN Day is indeed a genuine opportunity for the College to educate staff and students on the work and functions of the UN and its specialized agencies, and the ways this inter-governmental organisation impacts positively on the lives of hundreds of millions across the globe.
As you come to celebrate the UN Day with us in the College Main Auditorium on Friday, October 24, 2014, remember that Alvan is a product of the UN commitment to education.
Once more the examinations are here. Although veritable conclusions to the academic programme, examinations have become infamous with students. Infamous for the irrational fear they conjure; infamous for the cheating and malpractice that take place then; and infamous for the poor grades that result from ill preparation. But examinations are not evil. Instead they are tests of knowledge and understanding. Markers for the progress so far made in ones educational pilgrimage.
Here in Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri all forms of examination malpractice are frowned at. Students are warned to desist from any illegal conduct that could potentially truncate their education. Most examination transgressions attract the stiff penalty of expulsion. The Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing Ijioma led administration has zero tolerance for cheats bearing in mind that we are “training the trainers.” What will a teacher who cheats to graduate teach the next generation?
The Exam Malpractice Panel, the Servicom and the ICPC backed Anti-Corruption unit are all active and will enforce sanity in our halls as we join other well meaning citizens to rid our nation’s higher institutions of the hydra of exam malpractice. The secret of success in examinations lie not in the obsolete use of “omokirikiri” but in the business of attending classes, studying and revisions, and approaching tests with confidence and candour. Time tested capsules that have sufficed for us and countless others in the quest for the golden fleece of academic excellence.
As the Bible says, ” a word is enough for the wise.” As the French would say, BON CHANCE!