The former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has called on the federal government to elevate the Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze, Anambra State to a full-fledged special University of Education (Technical). He said such step would widen students’ access to higher degrees in technical education and equip them with employable skills.

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Dr Ezeife made the appeal during the special silver jubilee celebration, which was part of the activities that heralded the recent 23rd joint convocation ceremony of the college. Speaking on the topic; The Nascent of Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze in the South East of Nigeria: The Growth, Impacts and Strategic Plans for Tomorrow, he said the College stood a better chance of becoming a centre of excellence for quality vocational, technical and science education programme in the south east geo-political zone of the country.

Renewed appeals for the elevation of the college to a university were also made at different occasions by other stakeholders. The pioneer Provost of the College, who is currently the traditional ruler of Azia community, Prof Titus Eze, had at the silver jubilee celebration of the institution called for the upgrading of the college to model University of Education. Also, the former Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof Boniface Egboka, said the college should be granted the autonomy to award degree in order to satisfy the increasing yearning for higher education by Nigerian students. Prof Egboka, who was the chairman of the pre-convocation lecture of the College, expressed satisfaction with the improved state of infrastructure in the college under the leadership of Prof Josephat Ogbuagu as provost. He said the institution has developed the pedigree and capacity to become a university, with focus on vocational, technical and science subjects.

Addressing guests and top officials of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) at the convocation lecture, the Provost of the College, Prof Ogbuagu, said the enrolment into the institution has increased progressively, especially with the introduction of the degree programme in affiliation with Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He said the College has a crop of dedicated staff who work tirelessly to produce sound graduates in NCE, Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) and degree.

“While we acknowledge and appreciate government’s efforts in improving the infrastructural facilities in the college, it is necessary that we bring to your notice the needs of this college for the provision of more hostel accommodation for students, landscaping of the permanent site, tarring of internal network of roads, asphalting the access road to the permanent site, among others,” he noted. The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Prof Bappa-Aliyu Muhammadu, who was the guest lecturer at the pre-convocation lecture of the college, stressed the need to focus on qualitative teacher education to provide quality teachers for the change agenda. He called for clear definition of the professional standard of the teaching profession, which should be sustained through teachers associations in the country.

The lecture had in attendance top officials of the NCCE, Abuja, the Provost of the College, Prof Josephat Ogbuagu, the Deputy Provost, Dr Jane Madichie, the Registrar, Sir Augustine Udensi, among other dignitaries.

Speaking on the theme, Qualitative Teacher Education and Entrepreneurship in Contemporary Nigerian Society, the Executive Secretary noted that the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, in conjunction with other agencies, must work out ways and means of improving the position of teachers, noting that there was need for teachers with intellectual and professional background that would add value to the profession. He said today’s teachers must have a thorough knowledge of their chosen subject matters if they would command the respect of their students.

“The student of today is more intelligent than his counterpart of 10 years ago. This is because the art of reading is particularly important today. The printed word is the main route of the past, the present, and of what makes the man-made world tick. It is also the passport to teaching, education, adventure, delight, terror, fun and experience as well as relationships,” he added.

The Executive Secretary further explained that sometimes, students protest against ineffective teaching shown by their respective classroom teachers. “When this happens, a number of questions readily come to mind. Do the teachers have a thorough knowledge of the subject matter? Do the teachers have a perfect command of the medium of instruction? Are they professionally trained for a meaningful classroom interaction with their students?”

To improve the quality of teacher education, he called on schools to allow for breath and depth in curriculum content, which are the basis for effective teachers and teaching. He argued that teacher education must focus on the language of instruction for effective teaching and interaction in the classroom and society.

He urged teachers to keep learning so as to become an authority in the school environment. According to him, good teaching is the hallmark of teacher education. He said those in education sector should be encouraged to become more professional and be ready to share their ideas with others.

“It is obvious that the progress of education requires that teachers everywhere should enjoy a moral and material status worthy of their lofty mission. In some states of the federation and beyond, there is a problem in recruitment and retention in service of qualified teachers and this could be achieved only if the status of its profession is adequately recognized by all concerned: teachers, governments, education authorities, and the public,” he said.

Prof Muhammadu said research findings have shown that teaching is still mainly done through the lecture method only, instead of the suggestions given in different curricula. He argued that any teaching strategy that encourages pupils and students to be passive listeners all the time remains injurious to the entire educational enterprise. “Teaching and learning should engage learners with big ideals, key processes or modes of discourse and narratives of subjects so that they understand what constitutes quality and standards in particular domains. Schools must change today,” he said.