Penultimate week, pioneer students of Nigeria’s premier technical university, First Technical University, Ibadan, made history. They completed their year one examination and so, officially ended their first academic session at the nascent university.
Upon its completion, expectedly, the students straddled the expansive campus joyously, chanting and cheering one another for the historic feat. Well, the students’ excitement is certainly not misplaced, for their beloved Tech-U has indeed, within just its first academic session, proved sceptics wrong and has courageously trod on an uncharted path with a bagful of sheaves dotting it.
To put it in context, when the university made its entry into the increasingly saturated tertiary education space last year, only very few saw hope in the horizon. Their concern, albeit genuinely, was predicated on the fact that, with the perennial questions of funding and quality bedevilling public universities in Nigeria today, the university was dead on arrival. Alas, that concern has turned out unfounded.
Running with a vision of a world-class institution fully grounded in entrepreneurial practices, unique innovation, sustainability science and international best practices, Tech-U prides itself for an exceptional learning model of blended theoretical knowledge and practical skills imparted by a mix of first-rate scholars and experienced industry hands. Through the deployment of the principles of Science, Engineering, Technology, Research and Innovation (SETRI) for societal transformation, Tech-U is steadfast in its pursuit of effectively combating the saddening scourge of youth unemployment in Nigeria.
Located in Ibadan, West Africa’s largest city, reputed for its many firsts in Africa, the First Technical University campus, located along the Ibadan-Lagos Expressway, spreads on an expanse of 200 hectares of well-endowed land mass. The campus, inserted in the fledging Free Trade Zone Area of Ibadan projected to house a consortium of industries, is an excellent fit for any worthwhile academic adventure.
Apart from its state-of-the-art facilities, the pastoral but absolutely enchanting ambience of the campus supports learning and research in a way that rivals the tranquillity obtainable in any leading technology and innovation hub across the world. The lure of Tech-U is radical education that births world-class thinkers and doers with abiding innovation and development-oriented bent.
A peep into the achievements of the university in the last one year is, to say the least, very comforting. To begin with, the quality of reception that has trailed the entry of the university from the organized private sector has been largely gratifying.
This is because for too long, universities in Nigeria have failed to nurture their products in a way that readily makes them industry-ready needs; hence, the skills-gap crisis in the country. Of course, with its mission of nurturing industrious and market-ready graduates, Tech-U deserves the increasing acclaim and partnerships it is currently enjoying.
For aside its promise of fully industry-integrated education, the university offers training in unique areas of cyber security, mechatronics engineering, software engineering, biomedical engineering, among others. All with a focused goal of producing the sort of relevant manpower that can practically advance the course of national development.
Earlier in the year, as a way of deepening linkage between the town and gown, the university hosted stakeholders from leading brands and groups such as the Nigerian Employers Consultative Council (NECA), Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN), the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and several others for a curriculum review summit.
The gathering proved very successful, as it afforded the stakeholders to offer informed perspectives to shape the institution’s curriculum framework. Therefore, we are invited to look forward to the future with much excitement as Tech-U leads the way for more enduring universities/industry partnerships.
Realizing the urgency of the global knowledge economy, Tech-U has broadened its staff structure to include topflight scholars from Europe and America. Aside the immediate impact of this laudable move on the quality of learning at the university, it has significantly enhanced the prevalent institutional research architecture and visibility.
Similarly, the university enjoys a virile partnership with the Texas Technical University, Lubbock, United States of America. This certainly is a master stroke. With this, Texas Tech, reputed to be among the top-three of the best universities in the global current webometric ranking, provides mentorship for Tech-U and also facilitates exchange programmes between staff and students of both universities.
It is worth noting that Tech-U has also raised the bar in students funding. This is in form of a scholarship bank worth over N700 million.
The endowment comes from industry donors to support indigent but brilliant students unable to afford the sort of qualitative education offered by the university. Undoubtedly a very laudable scheme, it has brought to fruition the dreams of many underprivileged deprived students.
Tech-U students are carefully baked with the goal of making them globally competitive in science, technology and innovation.
As such, they are trained from the beginning to acquire competencies in French, in addition to at least two vocational skills relevant to their disciplines. It is exciting to report that the efforts being made to enable students acquire hands-one business development skills are already yield bounteous fruits. One of such notable efforts, a week-long business start-up immersion programme, facilitated by the Abuja-based Ventures Platform, provided students with a seed capital of over N1.5 million.
The testimony of Precious Omodunbi, an agricultural engineering student in at Tech-U is instructive: “Learning at the First Technical University is a great and awesome experience that involves the developing of minds and the training of hands. Tech-U students are trained to be responsible future leaders, creative inventors, innovators and ingenious entrepreneurs. I must say that Tech-U has got a conducive environment for learning, with attendant 21st century learning facilities available to make learning absolutely exciting”.
The National University Commission (NUC), much like other regulatory bodies, deserves much gravitas for not only identifying with the university, but for also nudging her on the path of enduring success. In this connection, also, the news of Tech-U’s enlistment as a TETFUND beneficiary is welcomed as a step in the right direction. This is because, owing to its radical model, a handsome TETFUND grant would lend the much needed fillip for focused and creative infrastructural drive.
It remains to be said that the Tech-U management, led by Professor Ayobami Salami, a distinguished professor of space application, has given an impressive account of itself.
Perhaps, we should not expect anything less, considering the star-studded team of managers behind the vision.
These include the chancellor, a renowned oil magnate; pro-chancellor and chairman of governing council, Professor OyewusiIbidapo-Obe, who is a distinguished university administrator and former vice chancellor of the University of Lagos. He leads a vibrant council that includes such industry bigwigs as Mrs. IbukunAwosika, chairman, First Bank Plc.; Professor TunjiOlaopa, accomplished public administration scholar; Jacob Ajekiigbe, notable entrepreneur and former managing director of First Bank Plc.; DoyeAyoola, foremost industrialist, and host of other leading industry minds
Oyo govt retains Ajimobi’s SGB policy, but…
Oyo state government has disclosed that it had no plan to proscribe the School Governing Boards (SGBs) policy of the Abiola Ajimobi led administration in public schools, but had worked on reviewing the mode of operation of the initiative.
The disclosure came on Friday from the Chairman, Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr. Nureni Adeniran who said that the Governor Seyi Makinde led-administration would further strengthen the idea of SGBs through genuine participation and inclusion of all stakeholders, but would not subscribe to extortion of the masses.
Nureni called on old students and other stakeholders to intervene and contribute to the development of their alma-maters, appealing to them not to relent in their various efforts at developing their old schools.
“Oyo State government has not proscribed SGBs in schools. Old students can still intervene in their various school projects. It is laudable and as the governor had made known in his inaugural address, any policy that is seen as beneficial to the generality of the people of Oyo State will not only be supported and but be leveraged upon.
“What we are ill-disposed to is the idea that some people will use the initiative to milk the unsuspecting general public, and we have worked on this to reflect the true sense of what SGB should be.
“We are not pleased with extortion of pupils in public schools and that is the only thing Governor Seyi Makinde’s government has put a stop to. We have never been aversed to the idea of SGBs”, he concluded.
Meanwhile, Oyo State Government has expressed its displeasure towards Messrs. Stock-Shield Ltd, Geostud Energy Consult and Bumtitas Ltd contracted by the last administration for school projects and have abandoned the site.
The Federal Government- Universal Basic Education Commission and Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board intervention projects at Ebenezer Primary School, Akingbile, Olunde Junior Secondary School and Oluyole OLGC Primary School, Ayegun, respectively have been abandoned by the two contractors.
The need for the invitation extended to the contractors was based on what the State government described as ‘faulty’ quality and design of projects that were among the 2012-2013 FGN-UBEC/SUBEB projects inaugurated by the previous administration.
Speaking for Government, Dr. Adeniran said he could not understand why such projects should still be left undone and would liked the contractors to show up and defend the faulty lines in the project designs,
“Throughout the world, there is what we all know as accountability, especially from the one that is offering service. Also, in a situation whereby the one that is being served feels not satisfied, there should be dialogue and from there, progress. We want these contractors to show up so that we can rectify grey areas and move on,” he posited.
Large Turnout As Oyo Pupils Write Placement, JSS3 Exams For Free
Pupils of public and private primary schools and junior secondary schools in Oyo State came out in large number on Tuesday and Wednesday to write the State’s placement examination into JSS1, popularly called ‘Common Entrance’ and Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) as well as the Competitive Entrance Examination into Schools of Science in the State.
The exercise which was monitored by Head of Service of Oyo State, Mrs Ololade Agboola was certified satisfactory in comparison to the number that had sat for the same examinations in the past, due to the fact that the State declared that no student should for any of the examinations.
Mrs Agboola said it would be on record that the unprecedented number of pupils that sat for each of the three examinations indicated that the State government has done the needful towards reducing the number of out-of-school children in the State.
Oyo State was one of the States that have the highest number of Out-of-School children in the 2019 report of the Universal Basic Education Commission.
Governor Seyi Makinde announced immediate stoppage of school fees and any payment for public examinations in Oyo State after being sworn into office in May 2019.
Mrs Agboola said “we have seen the direct impact of the declaration by Governor Makinde against payment of school fees and examination fees for public primary and secondary schools in Oyo State.
“The number is unprecedented as confirmed by the education administrators and even parents that came with their wards to the examination centers were too happy for the gesture of this administration.
“We are using this opportunity to call on teachers and school administrators to key into this laudable effort of the State government to bring back to school, the children that have left and are engaging in things inimical to their own future and the future of our nation.”
The Head of Service who monitored the Common Entrance Examination Exercise with management team of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Ibadan Metropolis and other parts of the State declared that materials needed for the examinations were adequately supplied, which made the exercise flawless and hitch free.
She however advised parents to support the present administration under the leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde in his educational policies to take the State to a greater height among its peers.
The Principal, Loyola College, Ibadan, Mrs Rebecca Oyebamiji said the punctuality of the students and invigilators at the examination center showed that they were ready for the exercise.
Oyebamiji noted that, no fewer than Two Hundred and Thirteen (213) pupils collected the forms and they all sat for the examination.
Brexit upheaval brings opportunity for African educators
The influential magazine Foreign Policy published an article at the end of 2018 entitled
A grim outlook for the British education sector at the start of the year has only got worse as the nation prepares for a “No Deal Brexit” and a long period of uncertainty around UK trade and immigration policies.
A joint letter sent by the heads of 150 UK universities to British Members of Parliament called a No Deal Brexit one of the “biggest threats ever” to British universities. The letter stated “vital research links will be compromised, from new cancer treatments to technologies combating climate change. The valuable exchange of students, staff and knowledge would be seriously damaged.”
British universities are now warning that international students, worth £26bn to the UK economy, will opt for countries such as the US, Canada and Australia instead. Already Australia has moved ahead of the UK as the second biggest destination for overseas students.
However, in a time of crisis for UK universities, opportunities could open up for African higher education institutions. While political developments like Brexit are putting up increased barriers to free global movement, the demand for international education and experience has never been higher.
A British Education in Africa
Since 2002 Rushmore Business School in Mauritius has offered British education in association with British universities from its base in Mauritius. The idea of a winning a British degree without the high cost of relocating and living in the UK proved popular with Mauritian students. Rushmore now offers over 60 programmes in collaboration with UK institutions, some up to PhD level.
Dr Essoo announced plans to open new international Rushmore campus in East Africa and Europe.
Both moves would represent a significant reversal of the current trend in Mauritian education of attempting to build the country as an education hub and attract students from Africa and India to study on the island.
Future of Pan-African Education
A Mauritian higher education institution moving into East Africa could be a significant moment in the development of Pan-African internationalist education.
Dr Essoo outlined Rushmore’s development strategy by stating “We were the first institution to really look at this idea of the education hub, of developing Mauritius as a knowledge hub. The previous government started the education hub programme and this government has continued.
However, having looked at it we realised that we are maybe putting the cart before the horse. My personal opinion is that we have tried this education hub approach and it hasn’t worked very well. We attracted maybe 10 to 15% of our students from Africa and India.
I think our next step needs to be going physically to those markets and expanding there. We are working on that now, we call this the third stage of our development. The first stage was setting up initially, the second stage was building our campus here and consolidating what we had, and now the third stage is to go in to other markets and take our model there.
The plan is to have campuses in Mauritius, Eastern Africa, and Europe offering the same courses and offer students mobility between the three campuses. Students from Europe could spend some time in Africa and some time in Mauritius, and see three different cultures. We would then be a truly international school or University and students would get a truly international education.
In addition to Africa, a lot of Europeans, particularly from eastern Europe, study in the UK either for their full degree or for one term or one year through exchange programmes such as Erasmus.
We believe that with Brexit there is going to be an impact on education and on those students. We believe that we can go into those European markets and offer British education.”
The developments at Rushmore highlight the rapid changes the international education market is going through.
Demand for international education has never been higher. However, the traditional education markets in the global north are fostering political environments increasingly hostile to internationalisation.
International higher education is now a $1.9 trillion global market and enrollments in higher education institutions are projected to grow by 200% by 2040. Total enrolment across the African continent will roughly triple from 7.4 million students to nearly 22 million by 2040.
The continent must develop leaders with both a Pan-African and internationalist mindset. The expansion of institutions such as Rushmore Business School will be a significant catalyst in created an integrated African higher education sector able to attract partnerships with the leading British and international academics and teachers.
Rushmore Business School offers a wide range of programmes that address Africa’s future development needs, from engineering, business, hospitality and tourism through to aviation.