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BREAKING: Governors Converting Colleges Of Education To Universities Are Being Misguided- COEASU President Olugbeko

The National President of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), Dr Smart Olugbeko has described state governors who convert public colleges of education in their states to universities as misguided....CONTINUE READING

Olugbeko, who was speaking during an interview with THE WHISTLER, stated that though the state governments are the proprietors of their tertiary institutions, they decide on what to do with the institutions on the basis of advice they received from their stakeholders.

“Most of the time, they are misguided but some governors who eventually got the opportunity to understand the importance of Colleges of education have been able to do a reversal.

“For instance, in Sokoto, Shehu Shagari College of Education, was converted to a university and when the governor was made to understand the implication and consequences of such, he quickly did a reversal and that college was brought back.

“In Minna, the state college was also converted to a university but by the time the governor was contemplating its implication, he realized that the consequences of such will not be good for the sector.

“So, what he did was to create a University of Education and also allow the College of Education to survive alongside,” he explained.

He lamented that most times, the people appointed as commissioners of education in the states are people that do not have the knowledge needed to handle the ministry.

“You discover that most people that are made commissioners of education are not even educators. You see where lawyers, engineers were made to actually superintend over the ministry of education and that on its own has brought adverse consequences on policy implementation in our education sector,” he lamented.

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The COEASU President warned that if the conversion persists, the number of out-of-school children in the country will continue to increase as the action will reduce the number of qualified teachers for basic education.

“If we go back to the recent statistics that was revealed by UNESCO on the out-of-school children, you discover that more than 20 million of our children are out of school while the federal government is talking about 12 million.

“One of the problems we have is because there are not enough schools to take care of these children. Even when we have schools, there are not enough teachers. The institutions that produced these teachers are the colleges of education.

“When you convert colleges of education to universities, you are reducing the number of teachers that are qualified to teach at basic levels because when you are talking about the basic level of education, you are talking about the crèche, nursery, primary and junior secondary school,” he said.

He explained further that what is being taught in Colleges of Education, are the pedagogy of how students/ pupils will be able to develop the first basic cognitive level they need for them to be able to progress to secondary school, adding that colleges are specifically established for these purposes.

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“But because our government does not consider how important basic education is, that is why out of ignorance, many of them have fallen into this and the consequences are here with us.

“We are talking about out of school children, bandits, Boko Haram. Those people did not have any education because they could not have access therefore they became tools to those people who conscripted them to get involved with all these atrocities,” he said.

Olugbeko noted that the government can establish specialized universities like the University of Education instead of converting an existing College of Education to university with the notion that they have outlived their usefulness.

He attributed the low enrollment of candidates to Colleges of Education to the poor treatment of teacher education in the country.

“If you look at the statistics released by Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) on the subscription to courses in Nigerian universities, Agriculture and Education got the least subscription. That means nobody wants to be a teacher and a farmer.

“Faculty of Education in universities also have problems with students coming to study education. In any conventional universities, students rarely pick education. Most of them are students that were drafted into education when they were not able to secure admission into other courses. It is not about college of education, it is about teacher education.

“It is about teacher education where nobody wants to be a teacher as a result of the way society treats teachers. Teachers are not being given what they deserve as teachers,” he said.

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The COEASU president however stated that the Federal Government with the Act that established the College of Education, has signed a bill into law on June 12, 2023 which has now made Colleges of Education to carry dual mandate.

“It means that the College of Education can now produce NCE graduates and also degree graduates. That is what is to be implemented and it will be able to put a stop to the incessant conversions.

He explained that the committee for the implementation comprises stakeholders from the National Universities Commission(NUC) and the National Commission for Colleges of Education(NCCE).

He further stated that though the Colleges of Education are presently running degree programmes, they are being run in affiliation with universities.

“So the law that has been signed is only removing the affiliation so that it is not affiliated to any university,” he said.

He noted that the basic requirement that will make teacher education to be as it should be is funding.

“The Nigerian government is not funding education enough. Education is expensive and for any government that is serious, must be ready to pay for education. Because the consequences of not making education a priority are what we have today.

“The amount of money the government is spending on security, if that amount had been spent on education, twenty or thirty years ago, we would not be talking about Boko Haram and bandits,” he said.