AN ADDRESS PRESENTED BY THE PROVOST OF ALVAN IKOKU FEDERAL COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, OWERRI, DR. (MRS.) BLESSING C. IJIOMA AT THE 26TH CONVOCATION CEREMONY TODAY, 8TH DECEMBER, 2016
It is with great, heartfelt joy and pleasure that I welcome everyone to Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri for our 26th Convocation ceremony. This College has had a rather eventful year and it is befitting that we end it by formally graduating our students. Today, we celebrate our National Certificate in Education (NCE) and Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) graduates. We are also bestowing Fellowships on remarkable Nigerians who have impacted the society positively.
Generally speaking, Convocation is a time for blowing the trumpets of joy as it marks the successful completion of the academic journey. Just as we always admonish our students during Matriculation, it is during Convocation that the prizes are given out. Thus, this ceremony celebrates those students who have adhered to their Matriculation oaths and obeyed all the rules and regulations of the College. Finally, these students have been found worthy in character and learning.
Like I alluded earlier on, our College has had an eventful year. This year, the College had two major accreditation exercises by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE). We are happy to announce that all our 24 Bachelor of Education Programmes in affiliation with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka have full accreditation. We are still expecting the results from NCCE for the NCE Programmes.
Our College also held its 1st Inaugural Lecture and also hosted the Annual Congress of the Nigerian Academy of Education (NAE), the premier association of Education academics in the country. In the same vein, the College hosted the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), 2ND Technical Committee meeting with admission officers from all the Tertiary Institutions in the country in attendance. All these indicate that the College is boldly stepping into its pride of place in the educational space in Nigeria.
Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri is a famous and foremost College of Education in Nigeria. As the primus Interpares among Colleges of Education, and located in the capital city of Imo State; a state that gives education a pride of place, it behoves that we pull our weight. In the few years that we have been here, this Management has done a lot of work to make Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education great again.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, the College has witnessed great infrastructural development. We have added new Lecture Theatres, Workshops and Laboratories. Buildings like the Micro-Teaching Lab, the ICT Resource Centre with 600 computer workstations, the Computer-Based Test seminar room with 200 PCs came online about two years ago. The School of Social Sciences Building and the School of General Studies building were completed not long ago. We have also attracted a bridge, now completed, across the Nworie River by the Ecological Fund Unit of the Federal Government. This is a monumental feat as the College begins the next phase of finally expanding across the River.
Our Laboratories, workshops and libraries have received a make-over. We have installed state of the art equipment in the Labs and brought them up to acceptable standards. This administration has also increased the digital footprint of the College by revamping the College Website and automating most of the registration and fee collecting processes. We are working hard to complete the Internet WiFi across all the main areas of the College. Many Staff have already started using their @alvanIkoku.edu.ng email domain addresses for their research and work correspondence as is done worldwide.
I must at this stage commend the Federal Government and its agencies, especially the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and the Ecological Fund, for support in making these giant strides in infrastructure and facilities development possible. We also acknowledge the contributions of the Imo State Government in assisting us to have a conducive environment in which we operate. On our own part we have judiciously used all resources accruing to the College and this is evident in the physical outlook of the Campus.
One of the cornerstones of the success of this administration and the resurgence in the fortunes of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri has been the quality of the work force, both teaching and non-teaching. Staff training and capacity development have been pursued vigorously. At last count we have sponsored over 300 staff to local and international conferences, workshops and seminars in the last couple of years. We have also mounted in-house seminars and workshops to enable more staff to benefit.
Some academic staff have been successfully sponsored for various post-graduate degrees overseas and have come back to improve the system. Scores of our staff are also in various universities in Nigeria studying to improve themselves. The net effect is that the quality of teaching and learning in this College is now comparable to many universities across the nation. No wonder our student enrollment for the National Certificate in Education (NCE) have continued to dwindle drastically as more students prefer to enroll in our Bachelors Degree programmes in affiliation with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
We have also encouraged and trained our academic staff to take advantage of research grants and funds, many of which are available in the country and beyond. So far, exciting researches have been concluded in the areas of General Education, as well as Science and Art Education. Many Text books in Education, Sciences and the Arts have been published as a fallout from such research work. Our joy is that the culture of research has been re-ignited in this Institution.
Recently too, we have started new programmes in Technical Education, Adult and Non-Formal Education, Vocational Education and Special Education. These courses have become mandatory as emphasis shifts to developing a workforce that is entrepreneurial, as well as technical. We are working towards becoming a Centre of Excellence for Special Education in the South-East. These new programmes have undergone resource inspection and are awaiting accreditation.
The Centre for Entrepreneurship for Education with the Department of Entrepreneurship together have devised strategies to make students receive mandatory instruction and classes geared towards developing their business and technical skills. It has yielded fruit with many students expressing their joy and happiness at picking up extra skills and vocations.
At this juncture I must remark that our administration has been very student-friendly. When I became Provost, the hostels were in a bad shape, and students had challenges with lack of lecture halls and classrooms and other facilities such as laboratories and studios. There were also acute shortage of staff offices and conveniences. We started by improving the conditions of the hostels, many of which had been built in the 1970s and were in great disrepair. New and efficient toilets were installed, the cleaning and the number of caregiving-hostel staff was increased and a clamp down on student harassment was enforced.
The Student Union Governments were encouraged by non-interference in their affairs and appropriated funds were duly released. We encouraged the religious fellowship groups and various clubs and even integrated them during College functions. Management supported the student security arm of the SUG providing uniforms and equipment like walkie-talkies and giving them an office space. The various arms of the SUG were given leadership training immediately after election to office to deepen their understanding of the processes and preparedness for positions of responsibility.
I believe that the Alvan students of today are better off than their recent predecessors. The facilities they study in are some of the best in the country, they have quality and highly motivated lecturers and the environment is progressively conducive for learning. This assertion is evident in the increasingly high number of candidates who now apply for a place in our College every year.
In our interactions with students, we have always taught and preached diplomacy and negotiations. We believe that such conversations are the hallmarks of democracy. It is sad to see that students, who are the leaders of tomorrow, are still keen to engage in violent and destructive mob action whenever there is a difference of opinion. Unfortunately, such actions do not favour anyone, neither Management, staff nor the students themselves. Nigerian students must always remember that these certificates are given out to deserving individuals who are deemed fit in character and in learning. And that ‘character’ comes first.
On that note, we call on the Federal Government to continue its assistance to the College. This will enable us to provide more facilities to both staff and students especially in the building of new lecture rooms, staff offices, laboratories, expansion of the College wide Internet coverage, the renovation of old student hostels and the building of new ones.
The entire Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education Community appreciates the Honorable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu ably represented by the Honorable Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukah, the Executive Secretary of National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Prof. Bappa-Aliyu Muhammadu, and all the representatives from the Federal Ministry of Education and the NCCE, especially members of the College Expanded Management, in today’s event and calls upon the Federal Government of Nigeria to kindly uplift the College to a University. This will enable us better maximize the facilities and personnel available and contribute more to the Nigerian education system. The College, today has selected three Nigerians who have contributed immensely to the growth of education in Nigeria to be installed as Fellows of the College. They are Dr. Gregory Ibe, Prof. Nicholas Ada and Chief (Mrs.) Okonkwo.
I also call on today’s graduands to move into the world with confidence and boldness. The education you received here is guaranteed to make you deploy your mind and God-given talents positively. This will launch you on the path of success. Whatever you do, remember to put your trust in God and work for the benefit of humanity. The world is changing and changing fast. White-collar jobs are not assured anymore, so be flexible because the job market is. Remember also to keep your eyes open for opportunities in the small and medium enterprise sector, agriculture and information technology for these are areas of great opportunities for the future in Nigeria. Beyond the sky is your limit.
Before I take my seat, may I once more thank all our distinguished guests for honouring our invitations. I thank members of my Management team, the Convocation Committee, and indeed all staff and students of this great College who have worked, sometimes into the night, to create this success story. I also recognize my husband and family members who are present in this ceremony to support me as usual.
To the Fellowship awardees and our fresh graduands, let me remind you that gold does not rust. So shine on. Shine brighter. Shine brightest.
Thank you all and may God bless us.
Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing C. Ijioma