The Imperatives of Turning Agbor College of Education to University of Education
By Jerome-Mario Utomi
The recent commissioning of a multi-billion naira Teachers’ Professional Development Centre by the Delta State Government at Owa Alero/Owa Oyibu in Ika Northeast Local Government Area of the state, a centre where, according to the state government, teachers in the state will be trained on efficiency in presentation/course evaluation and record-keeping strategies, is a welcome development.
There are reasons that support this affirmation.
Apart from the fact that education is the bedrock of development coupled with the fact that presently, the most valuable skill any nation can sell to the globe is knowledge, the single most important factor in determining how fast the state and of course our children can achieve hyper-modern status today’s world is no longer a function of where they are from or who their parents are or how much they have.
But to use the words of Barack Obama, former President of the United States of America, it is who their teacher is. It is the person who will brave some of the most difficult schools, the most challenging children, and accept the most meagre compensation simply to give someone a chance to succeed.
However, there are reasons to argue that for the state to leave behind third world challenges of illiteracy and poverty, and become a successful centre for the dissemination and distribution of best human capital resources across the nation, its handlers must urgently depart leisurely approaches to policies/reforms that cure the effect of an ailment while leaving the root cause to thrive, of which the Teachers’ Professional Development Centre could without bias, be likened to.
Without prejudice, Teachers’ Professional Development Centre is laudable but not well thought out. If training and retraining of the manpower’s need in the state’s education sector in ways that will boost quality education of our children is the state government’s goal, we need to be holistic in approach.
As it calls for a re-examination of and taking a critical look at the process that throws up our teachers. The only possible solution to the current need is the transformation of one of the long-existing Colleges of Education in the state-the College of Education, Agbor, (the same vicinity with the Teachers’ Professional Development Centre), to a specialised University of Education to perform this role at the most fundamental level.
This suggestion and demand are by no means without a precedent.
On January 29, 2005, the Ogun state government, South-West Nigeria, under the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel, going by records, upgraded the state-owned College of Education established in 1978 to Tai Solarin University of Education.
Apart from being the first of its kind in Nigeria, the university also shares a unique feature as the only institution in the country that offers both the Bachelor’s degree programmes in education (B.Ed.) and trains National Certificate of Education (NCE) graduates within the same academic environment.
Without doubt, this is precisely the role Agbor College of Education will perform if upgraded. It will, regardless of what others may say, give big helping hands and act as a compelling referral to existing education faculties of universities in the region.
Similar to the factors advanced for establishing the first university of education mentioned above, the present demand is primarily predicated in meeting the challenges of contemporary university crisis particularly as industry watchers has observed that there is a poor performance of first and second-year students in the universities with a high proportion of them having several courses to repeat at the end of the first year in the university.
This, they added, is traceable to poor understanding of those subjects by these fresh students from the high schools and poor delivery of the subjects by the teachers, who themselves do not possess the required skill. This in turn was due in part to the quality of teachers produced from several faculties of education from Nigerian universities.
If permitted, the Agbor University of Education will in ways help provide an opportunity for Deltans seeking degree certificate in education achieve such goals, ensure graduate teachers have in-depth knowledge of the subject they are supposed to teach like any other university graduate from other faculties and at the same time have teaching skills to disseminate the knowledge of subject known.
Also fuelling this demand is the fact that the Nigerian university curriculum as argued elsewhere is deficient in producing graduates that could work on their own or provide jobs for others after leaving the university.
The major areas of deficiency in the university curriculum are vocational skills and entrepreneurship knowledge. If upgraded, it is expected to incorporate these in order to turn out graduates that are not only knowledgeable in the subject matter of their discipline but well-rounded with a vocational skill and have entrepreneurship knowledge to make- maximum use of the resources around him or her to be self-dependent on leaving the university.
At this point, it is important to attain the concerns of some commentators.
As observed, many have opined that such effort remains unnecessary as the National University Commission (NUC) has accredited all the courses in the degree programme of the College of Education, Agbor. Others were of the view that the college is already affiliated to Delta State University, Abraka coupled with the fact that the distance between Abraka is too close to necessitating another university.
These arguments in the opinion of this piece cannot hold water when faced with embarrassing facts.
Beginning with the argument about the proximity between the two institutions’, the Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE), again, provides a comparative example. For those that know, the distance between Ago Iwoye, a community that houses the Olabisi Onabanjo University (the state-owned university) and Ijagun, Ijebu Ode, the TASCE permanent site, is even closer when compared with the distance between Abraka, the Delta State University Main Campus and Agbor, a town in Ika South Local Government Area.
Away from proximity to the claim on affiliations and NUC’s accreditation of courses run by the Agbor College of Education, statistics factually shows that the Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE) at the time of transformation to a university of education had students and staff statistics of about 12,544 both NCE. and degree (full time and part-time) with a staff strength of about 669 of which 43 per cent were teaching staff in all the eight schools in the college.
The college was affiliated to the University of Ibadan, Oyo State for the B.Ed programme and also worked out an affiliation arrangement with Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba – Akoko, Ondo State for a programme leading to the award of B.Sc./B.Tech, including a postgraduate diploma in education. The qualification status of the lecturers revealed that there were 14 or 3.9 per cent with PhD.
Yet, despite these ‘virtues and attributes, the state leadership saw the wisdom in making it an independent university of education.
Let us not forget, the nation Nigeria has in the past had specialised universities such as University of Agriculture and Technology. The reasons for establishing such specialised institutions were to promote science, technology and agriculture in the country, likewise, the Agbor University of Education when approved will fortify teachers’ training.
More importantly, it will address permanently the tertiary institution imbalance spread in the state. Take as an illustration, in the Delta Central Senatorial District alone, the following higher institutions could be found. They include in no particular order; the main campus of the Delta State University in Abraka with another campus in Oghara, Federal University of Petroleum Resources (Warri), Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Gbaramatu Kingdom, College of Education, Warri. Such cannot be said of other senatorial zones.
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org/08032725374.
6 Ways Google and YouTube Can Help You Celebrate Ramadan
Ramadan is a holy month that is observed by Muslims all around the world. It is a time for reflection, prayer, and community. With the help of Google and YouTube, celebrating Ramadan has become even easier and more enjoyable.
From Lagos to Nairobi, Accra to Johannesburg, Africans can access a wealth of information and resources to make the most of this special time. Here are 6 ways that Google and YouTube can help you celebrate Ramadan in Africa:
Celebrate Ramadan’s Joy with Colors and Greetings: Simply search for “Ramadan 2023” in your language on Google, and you will have access to all the information related to this month, including prayer times, recipes, and more. You can also find articles on Ramadan etiquette, Ramadan recipes, and Ramadan greetings to help you navigate the holiday with ease. Additionally, you can access greeting cards online to share with your loved ones, and scroll through our Ramadan colouring book on Google Arts & Culture to engage your inner artist and colour beautiful artwork to share with family and friends.
Set Reminders for Prayer Times with Google Assistant: With Google Assistant, you can set reminders for prayer times throughout the day, making it easier to stay on track during Ramadan. Simply ask Google Assistant to set a reminder for the next prayer time, and you’ll receive a notification when it’s time to pray. You can customise the reminders to fit your schedule so you never miss a prayer. Plus, Google Assistant can provide inspirational quotes and spiritual guidance to help you stay focused and connected during the holy month.
Shop What You See with Google Lens: By using the camera on your phone, you can search for a delicious type of dessert you’ve tried at your friend’s house, or find your next favourite decoration item to buy during Ramadan. You can open the Google app on your phone, tap on the camera icon, and use Google Lens to snap a photo or screenshot. With Google Lens, you can easily find exact or similar results to shop from or explore for inspiration.
Watch Ramadan-related videos on YouTube: YouTube is a great resource for learning more about Ramadan. You can find videos on how to prepare traditional foods, tips for fasting, and spiritual practices related to Ramadan. There are also numerous Ramadan vlogs and Ramadan routines videos, where you can follow along with the daily activities and experiences of content creators during the holy month.
Use Google Maps to Find Local Mosques and Halal Restaurants: Google Maps is a valuable tool for finding local mosques and halal restaurants during Ramadan. You can search for mosques in your area or around you and get directions to join in community prayers. You can also search for halal restaurants near you to break your fast with delicious and authentic cuisine. Additionally, Google Maps can help you navigate through unfamiliar areas when you are travelling to different cities or countries during Ramadan. With Google Maps, you can plan your Ramadan activities and explore new places with ease. Plus, you can read reviews and ratings from other users to help you make informed decisions about where to go.
Browse Our Shopping Guide for Inspiration: To help you prepare for Ramadan, Google has created a Ramadan Shopping Guide that collects trending products helpful during the holiday. When we analysed search and shopping trends, we found common themes related to home decoration, like Ramadan lanterns, which grew 20% year over year. You can browse through the guide for inspiration and find new ideas for decorating your home, preparing for Iftar, or giving gifts to your loved ones during the holiday.
We hope this Ramadan brings you and your loved ones joy — and that these tools help you find the information you need to make the most of this special time of the year.
Flexible Power Technologies Will Make Africa’s Energy Leapfrogging a Reality
By Marc Thiriet
Africa’s ability to leapfrog traditional power systems and adopt renewables on a massive scale is not a fantasy. In-depth studies from Wärtsilä have demonstrated that with the adequate support of flexible power technologies, ambitious renewable energy objectives in Africa are not only achievable, but they also represent the soundest and cheapest strategy for the successful electrification of the continent.
A new power generation paradigm perfectly suited for Africa
There has been much discussion about Africa’s ability to ‘leapfrog’ the way power systems have been built in the western world. For over a century, traditional power systems have been based on centralised power generation, with a limited number of large thermal power plants providing baseload electricity through a massive transmission network. This way of generating power is, however, coming to an end: the climate emergency is calling for a 180-degree paradigm shift in which renewables replace thermal power plants as the baseload source of energy.
This new power generation paradigm is, in many ways, a perfect fit for Africa. The continent enjoys some of the highest wind and solar energy resources on the planet, which means that the renewable energy plants built here boast some of the best productivity rates in the world. Almost anywhere in Africa, renewables are the cheapest power generation option available today by a significant margin.
Although relatively ambitious renewable energy targets have been set by most governments across the continent, there is still widespread scepticism that renewable energy, which is intermittent by nature, can provide a reliable source of baseload power. This scepticism is unjustified. With the appropriate deployment of grid balancing technologies like gas engine power plants or energy storage, huge amounts of renewable energy can be built into the system while at the same time ensuring a stable and reliable network. Energy experts at Wärtsilä, who have built 76 GW of power plant capacity in 180 countries around the world, certainly know a thing or two about that.
Building reliable power systems
Yes, renewables are intermittent, but it’s a challenge that we have long known how to solve, providing the need for flexible power capacity is not underestimated.
As intermittent renewable energy becomes the new baseload, the system will have to cope with a large amount of variable power that can disrupt the grid. Flexible power must therefore be available to ramp up production at the same rate that wind or solar production fluctuates but also to match the fluctuating energy demand within the day. System imbalances can be, at times, huge, but the system will stay safe as long as renewable energy deployment is matched with corresponding levels of flexible power capacity.
Flexible engine power plants are the only technology designed to work hand-in-hand with renewables, as they can efficiently cope with multiple daily starts and stops. They also offer the significant advantage of being able to run on different fuels, from natural gas and heavy fuel oil today to locally produced hydrogen and biofuels tomorrow, as they become competitive and broadly available. Thanks to this muti-fuel capability, not only do engine power plants provide a great hedge against fuel supply risk, but they are also the ultimate “future-proof” technology for energy leapfrogging, as the gas engines can simply be converted to run on green fuels like hydrogen to reach 100% renewables. Engine power plants offer a solid, long-term foundation on which African countries can build modern and resilient clean power systems.
Energy leapfrogging requires a tailormade approach
Delivering on energy leapfrogging is going to be a complex, multi-decade process. Each country in Africa features its own unique mix of natural resources, geographical opportunities and constraints, and population density, alongside a myriad of other parameters. Each country will therefore require its own tailormade and optimal power system expansion plan to accomplish its leapfrogging.
What would such a plan look like in practice? Let’s take Nigeria as an example. Using advanced energy system modelling techniques, Wärtsilä’s analysts have designed a detailed roadmap showing how Nigeria could proceed to build a 100% renewable energy power system and meet its 2060 net-zero targets.
According to our models, by 2060, Nigeria’s power capacity should consist of 1,200 GW of renewable energy and require a total of 283 GW of energy storage and 34 GW of flexible engine power plants for grid balancing purposes. On the other hand, inflexible sources of power like coal, oil or gas turbine power plants have now become the exception rather than the norm.
For this plan to succeed, Nigeria’s domestic gas must still play a crucial transition role: It will be mobilised as an inexpensive bridging fuel for engine power plants in support of intermittent renewable energy generation until these plants can be converted to run purely on green hydrogen in the early 2040s.
This is the soundest power system from both an environmental and economic standpoint. Our research indeed shows that investing in renewable energy and flexibility from gas engines and energy storage is the most cost-effective way for Nigeria to reduce energy costs, increase energy access and improve grid reliability. For the plan to succeed, however, the country will have to greatly improve its power transmission infrastructure, develop a strong and dependable policy framework, and attract significant investment.
The global shift to renewable energy provides Nigeria and Africa, as a whole, with a unique opportunity to leapfrog the carbon-based power systems that have been the norm in the West. Delivering this opportunity would represent a giant step forward in the country’s development. But an adequate and carefully planned deployment of flexible power technologies to balance the intermittency of renewables is the sine qua non-condition for energy leapfrogging to succeed in Nigeria, as anywhere else on the continent.
Marc Thiriet is the Director for Africa at Wärtsilä Energy
Misunderstanding the Nigerian Understanding
By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
“Misunderstanding the understanding” can refer to a situation where someone fails to comprehend or interpret a concept, idea, or situation correctly, despite believing that they have understood it. This can occur due to various reasons such as cognitive biases, lack of knowledge or experience, miscommunication, cultural differences, or preconceived notions.
For example, imagine a person from one culture trying to understand a complex concept or idea from another culture. Even if they have the best intentions and have studied the concept extensively, they may still misunderstand it due to differences in language, values, or beliefs. This can lead to misinterpretations and miscommunications that can create confusion and misunderstanding.
Another example could be in a professional setting where a manager provides instructions to an employee, but the employee may not fully understand the instructions due to different interpretations or assumptions. The employee may then carry out the task incorrectly, leading to errors and inefficiencies.
In order to avoid “misunderstanding the understanding,” it is important to maintain open communication, clarify concepts and ideas, and be aware of potential biases or assumptions that may affect the interpretation of information. Additionally, seeking feedback and asking questions can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there is a shared understanding of the information at hand.
We cannot do the last paragraph above because elsewhere the police say freeze when they want to arrest you, but in Nigeria, we say ‘hold it’. The people that say hold it is the same people that, by the time you are reading this, would have settled whether Vivor of Lagos is Igbo or Yoruba. They are the same group of people that will remind you that Murtala Muhammed was from Edo or one-time Vice President Sambo is from Agenebode.
If you understand the misunderstanding, one time, an Eboni man was told that he could not be governor in Enugu, the same way Bianca Ojukwu was once told by the family of Ojukwu she could not be a senator in Anambra state.
We are a people that are no different from our politicians, who are dealers rather than leaders, so it is difficult to understand the difference because we are consciously misunderstanding, no Minister’s kid is looking for a job, and no governor’s brother is jobless. No local government chairman has an issue with getting his sister a job.
The political class don’t know that there’s no electricity, because Rimi road, Adeoye crescent, and Mbakwe close all have houses powered by big generators.
While we battle our misunderstanding, the fact is that we don’t understand the pain of a family whose substantial monthly income goes to purchasing cooking oil (kerosene) or gas.
We believe that the earth is chasing us, so where did we put our feet while running? I was once told that the fowl on a journey inside the basket does not know where it will end.
You need to understand the misunderstanding that the Nigerian dream is that you steal much and even more because if you are caught, you need money to settle all the steps of the staircase, police, lawyers, and more. At the court, you seek a restraining order and restrain anybody from arresting or investigating you. You pay a handful to protest that you’re being persecuted because of your faith or creed…do you understand, or are you being misunderstood?
Stealing government money is no big deal; it’s a dream, after all, we have erroneously insisted it is everybody’s money. If you do not want to steal, your people will mock you, in fact, as you aspire, the past records of looting by your predecessor are packaged in phrases such as ‘see the house he built for his mother’, ‘how he buried his father’, and ‘he managed to build us a small clinic too’, ‘it is our turn’, ‘you must put our people in position’, and these are misunderstandings that must be understood.
The Nigerian dream is to have your cough treated in Germany, your kids’ school in heaven knows where, and get all sorts of awards and titles, from the Baba Adini of Adiniland to an honorary degree from a one-storey building college in Maputo, that is after being knighted by one of the numerous churches, countless lesser and higher hajj, and it is all ‘you either understand or you misunderstand’.
The United Kingdom has a Hindu prime minister of Indian descent and a Muslim mayor of London of Pakistani descent. Jeremy Hunt, who is currently Chancellor of the Exchequer, when was foreign secretary, referred to his Chinese wife as Japanese during a visit to Beijing to discuss post-Brexit trade deals between the UK and China. We do not understand that true diversity is about disrupting the status quo, not enforcing it with zeal. In Nigeria, it is a different story.
How do we understand the misunderstanding in Lagos, the Igbo and Yoruba drama, as in the real deal is our dichotomy is not a subject within the shores of this nation that one talks about without understanding; it evokes a lot of passion from the heated arguments which it generates, everyone holding dear to their values, and idiosyncrasies. A lot has been written on old perspectives, likewise, new viewpoints; after the elections, we go back into the cocoon, and the differences remain and are not tackled.
In our misunderstanding, we think of easterners, westerners, northerners, and middle belters, all depending on the turn of events. In our sensationalism, we have, in every sense, approached most problems sectionally, thereby creating all kinds of unnecessary petty-cultural-ethnic-religious-paranoia and bourgeois mentality in dealing with our national issues.
There is an ideology of hatred, one that props up again and again, Lagos in the West, Anambra in the East, North vs South, Muslims vs Christians. This is a factor that reactionary elements within the system use in battling the progressives. The misunderstanding in the understanding, which really borrows a lot from bourgeois theories, which essentially is directed at confusing our intellect, like we try to argue within the parameters of “anti-class theory”, “theory of development”, “take off theory”,, “theory of cooperation”, “theory of external push”, “end of ideology theory”, “convergence theory”, “the theory of the periphery in the periphery”.
Wonderful sociological concepts that do very little to help us shift in the way of progress because only a few theories work for us…” the theory of corruption”, “the theory of bad governance”, “chop I chop theory”, and “killing for god theory”, “WIKE”, “Obi, and Elu Pee theory”, “Balablu theory” and now the “BVAS theory”. Do you understand, or you misunderstood me?
Interestingly and constructively, when we fulfil the Nigerian dream-like stealing, we have no religion, no tribe, and no fights; all is good so long it ends well, we only fight when one attempts to out steal the other. It is the misunderstanding that we do not understand, and we never will until the ordinary Nigerian becomes the focal point, it will almost never work. The dream for a better, strong and virile nation lies in our hands. Sadly, we refuse to understand it and choose to misunderstand the difference, we continue in our wild goose chase till when—only time will tell.
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