All is now set for the take-off of the Tayo Akpata University of Education, Ekiadolor, Edo State as Governor Adams Oshiomhole has emphasized the need to upgrade the quality of teachers in order to improve the quality of learning in schools.
Speaking during the presentation of a report by Prof Dennis Agbonlahor Committee set up by the state government to evaluate the state-owned institutions of higher learning, Governor Oshiomhole said “my own personal conviction is that because of the importance we attach to education, the whole idea of upgrading Ekiadolor to a university is that we don’t want to have NCE teachers in our secondary schools.
“Because the quality of teachers is important, my view is that to teach in our secondary schools: junior and senior secondary schools, we must have Bachelor of Education (B.ED) so that the students will be in very good hands.”
According to Oshiomhole, “the mass failure in exam is not by accident. If pupils have not learnt, it might as well be because the teachers have not taught. So, that is the whole idea. We must scale down on our NCE requirements. The real quality objective is that we want to phase out NCE because no matter what anybody says, the quality of our teachers is extremely important. Look at the level of performance in WAEC, NECO, JAMB and all that you have to go through with universities now setting up another exam because when you look at the failure rate, somebody is probably trying to play with standard, to pass people who ordinarily didn’t pass, so universities now do their own in-house examination.
“All of these point to a very serious problem and for me, to cure that on a sustainable basis is to look at the issue of the quality of teachers. That is the whole purpose. We will need to have a further interaction on that whether we shouldn’t scale down on the numbers for NCE. We have to look at the end product, although we can produce for other states, but our primary purpose is not for export now, it is first and foremost self-sufficiency.”
“What I want you to help me address is not academic, non-academic ratio, because both of them are consequence. The primary focus is to impart knowledge. So, in terms of starting Tayo Akpata University on a sound footing, they mustn’t engage one non-academic staff more than they need, because it is not going to add value, it will just create an additional burden, consuming resources that would have otherwise been available to maintain third level academic staff.
“From my interaction with NUC now, I know that as a senior lecturer, you must have a Ph.D. So, we are going to move away from where a master’s degree holder is teaching in Tayo Akpata University if he doesn’t have a Ph.D, he will just be a Graduate Assistant because the whole idea is that the people who pass through here must be qualitatively different from NCE holders. So that when we post them to our schools, we are sure that they are in a position to impart knowledge to our students and we should be able to measure the output, from the performance of our students in external exams like WAEC or NECO and JAMB, etc.”
He added, “But what your committee is silent on which I think you should address is the issue of fees. Edo State Government cannot provide free university education. We are not in a position to do that, and I don’t know any rich nation that is doing that with the exemption of Cuba. I am not sure of the facts in China, but in the rest of the world, you pay for it.
“So, the time to address them is now. We need to address that so that we can restore integrity to academic calendar and regain the confidence of parents. That means university has to have some reasonable level of internally generated revenue.
“The last point I would like to make is that we really need to appoint a board or a council for Ekiadolor university. We have already informed the NUC about the setting up of the university which has already been established by law, and the council will then be able to do all the coordination with the NUC, and go through all the formalities for formal recognition so that NUC can inform JAMB that the university exists and for JAMB to include it in the admission brochure so that people can apply.”
Earlier in his report, the Chairman of the Evaluation Committee, Prof. Dennis Agbonlahor said, “The last time we were here, the Comrade Governor directed that we should, after submitting the report on Tayo Akpata University, we were directed to go back to Igueben to look at those teaching staff again, and examine them, to take a critical look at teachers whether they were fit and proper to actually teach our children, and secondly to work out the teaching staff and non-teaching staff ratio at all the campuses, and we have done that.”