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Federal college of education, (technical), Isu, Takes off October –Provost

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Professor Okey Reuben Okechukwu, is the Provost of one of the newly-established Federal Colleges of Education, (Technical) Isu in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. He spoke to our Correspondent, RUTH OGINYI on preparations towards full take-off of the institution in October this year. Excerpts!

Federal College of Education, Isu, Onicha Local Government under you, is one of the Colleges of Education in the country newly approved by President Muhammadu Buhari. When is the college commencing academic activities and what are the things put in place for its eventual takeoff?

We have a mandate from the Federal Government to start the full academic activity by October 2021. We have written to JAMB, we have done our documentation with JAMB and other appropriate Federal Government’s authorities to enhance that commencement. Here again, in the state, we have met with the State government and the Governor of Ebonyi State is quite magnanimous and has graciously approved and released the land documents for the permanent site of the College.  He has also directed that the students be relocated from the temporary site to enable us to take over the temporary site as a commencement center for the College (technical). He has been very supportive because that indeed is a good beginning. It’s a very big support because we don’t have land, we don’t have a space. The college will not operate in the air.

The Federal Government has also directed that the take-off grant be released in the way that it will be used for infrastructural development on the site.  I will like to thank the Isu community and Onicha Local Government Chairman. The issue is that the community has done great jobs; they have done some renovations from the Provost’s office down to the Admin block all at the temporary site. They have raised money locally to try to do this renovation to demonstrate their joy and their acceptance of the location of the institution in their community. They have all been very cooperative, very zealous. The determination within them is quite huge. I think it is a wonderful support. They are always there ensuring that we are comfortable.

The Local government on their own, fenced the entire temporary site. It is a very large site. They are determined to build the gatehouse and other things, they are making very serious arrangements to get the Provost’s residence also in Isu to ensure that the Provost is comfortable and principal staff and other relevant staff are comfortable and accommodated right at Isu and not have any reason to complain. So, I want to thank all these people and the whole of Ebonyi State. I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for giving us that Federal College of Education (Technical). Ebonyi is indeed, very lucky. We also thank the Minister of Science and Technology who also was very instrumental in bringing the College to our dear State. May God bless all of them.

What are some of the things required for the takeoff?

What we require to take off are the students. We are going to hold meetings, seminars with the JAMB authorities to discuss modalities. On the part of the National Commission for Colleges of Education, they have also given us clear guidelines.

For us, we are a Technical College. Out of the six newly established Federal Colleges of Education, two are Technical. The Federal College of Education Technical, Isu, and Federal College of Education Technical, Ekiadalo. The rest are Federal Colleges of Education. So, we have more responsibilities. We have more responsibilities to train resourceful, self-reliant individuals who may after graduation decide because of their competence, because of the skill they will acquire there, can be on their own, can work for themselves. They are also well-trained teachers because our duties are to train the teachers; qualified, competent, and needed teachers to make the College of Education the best and an excellent center of education in Nigeria that can compete globally anywhere in the world.

How do you think this College would impact on the Educational and economic records of Ebonyi State?

The State has been looked at as being Educationally-Disadvantaged and that is why we are working very hard. And you see, Ebonyians all over, they are experts. They are good students wherever they are. Wherever they go, they shine and it is because of fear of that disadvantage aspect of that snag on them that makes them work very hard. Well, there can be nothing better than going technological. The world is all talking technology; Science, innovation, and technology.

We have a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is from Ebonyi and in charge of Science and Technology and innovation was recently added. So, technology is very important. So, for us to train our products who are technologically well equipped,  that will add flesh to the manpower need and the self-reliant drive of the present world, it will help us a lot because we cannot continue to read and write like the three R. All we can do is to go there and speak loud English. I always tell them it is technology and letters, meaning you have the skill in terms of manipulations with your hands and brains and you cannot also translate it into complete explanation and analysis on the paper. If you have a crude implement, it will all be obsolete but when you can join it with letters, you are now the modern personalities, you are a modern product that can excel and be relevant all over the world. So, the Technical Education will help us a lot, we will be talking about vocational Education where you can grow Agriculture and of course, Ebonyi is known for Agriculture and that is the mainstay of our economy, it will add a lot to our economy. 

How many students have the college gotten to take off?

We don’t have students in terms of students’ enrollment per se. I told you that we have only limited ourselves to the number of Schools we are starting up with. We have four Schools; the School of Education and General Studies which of course is a foundation. We have a School of Education Science. We have the school of Education (Vocational) and we have the School of Secondary Education (Technical). In these four schools, they are further broken down into various departments; single and combined.

For the school of Science education, we have; Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, and Integrated Science. For the School of Education, we have; General education, Education, and General Studies basically. But it is the foundation for every tertiary institution because that is where you are equipped to become a professional, qualified and certified teacher. In the School of Vocational Education, we have; Agric and Home Economics. And in the school of Technical Education, we will be talking about; Electrical Electronics, Woodwork, Automobiles, and one other.

 What are the challenges the college is having as a new School?

For every living thing, there must be challenges. It is the challenge that will make you work hard. We have challenges. People will be coming from far and wide, they will need accommodation. But that is the challenge of human beings, a living thing. We need some buildings, renovation, upgrading of some of the facilities. They are challenges. We need water and light. They are so many challenges. But God is on our side and with the support of the State and the Federal Government, we will overcome them because we didn’t come here to cry that we have challenges and so, we are not going to take off.

What of teachers and non-academic staff, has the college recruited them and how many are they?

We have not started recruiting, we have not. So, if you hear anybody telling you that we have started recruiting or they are collecting money, or anybody asking you to bring your application, don’t give. We are a Federal establishment and they are procedures for engagement. My attention has been drawn to a rumour making the rounds that the School has commenced recruitment of staff. Ordinarily, the gossip would be ignored as a street talk and a product of ignorance since there is no way the college could conduct its recruitment of staff without due approval from the office of the Head of Service of the Federation. It is therefore imperative to state explicitly that the buzz was a complete falsehood, unfounded, fallacious and it exists only in the imagination of mischief makers and the marauders laying siege to hoodwink unsuspecting job seekers and leak their purse.

While we warn the purveyors of this antic to desist from the act before the eyes of the law beams on them, it is also urgent to forewarn that anybody paying to any person to secure a job in the College is doing so at personal risk. Therefore, the Provost, Prof Okechukwu calls on the general public to disregard the speculations while enjoining prospective applicants to remain calm and vigilant, waiting for such a time when the school would carry out its recruitment exercise according to the processes recognized by the law.

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