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Colleges of education as third choice institutions

By Ujunwa Atueyi
21 December 2017   |   2:03 am
Their position was clear and their argument was that the current application process into the country’s Colleges of Education (CoE) is not beneficial to teacher education, as it influences candidates toward university education. This, the team unanimously agreed, is injurious to the teacher education system. The leaders under the umbrella body of the National Officers,…

Prof. Is-haq Olarewaju Oloyede

Their position was clear and their argument was that the current application process into the country’s Colleges of Education (CoE) is not beneficial to teacher education, as it influences candidates toward university education. This, the team unanimously agreed, is injurious to the teacher education system.

The leaders under the umbrella body of the National Officers, Council of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) recently paid a visit to the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in Bwari, Federal Capital Territory.

Part of their deliberations was that all stakeholders must gather to review the entry procedure into the country’s CoE, saying the present structure debases the teachers training institutions.

President of the group, Mr. Nuhu Ogirima, who led the delegation to the board’s office according to NAN report, did not mince words when he stated that the challenge had been an obstacle to admission status of education colleges nationwide.

He canvassed urgent need for a review of the admission criteria, given the fact that the current application process predisposes candidates toward university education.

He wondered what could become of a country that does not place premium on its teachers training institutions, adding that some unhealthy policies have made the teaching profession an all comers’ affairs.

He therefore appealed to the board to commence a collaboration that will improve the admission status of the colleges across the federation and eliminate the concept of lowering standards to attract students.

He said, “Notwithstanding the overwhelming preference for admission into university, the provision for college of education as third choice in JAMB sought to obscure the system from others. After the selection of the very best from the first choice list, colleges of education are left with no choice in JAMB but the low performing candidates and this does not augur well for the teacher education system.

“The union would, therefore, appreciate if JAMB, without prejudice to her establishment law, explore the possibility of collaborating with stakeholders in colleges of education. The collaboration would provide enabling environment that could improve the admission status of the colleges nationwide.”

Echoing Ogirima’s views, Chairman of COEASU, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED) chapter, Comrade Michael Avosetinyen, told The Guardian that the policy retrogresses the country’s teacher education system.

According to him, teacher education institutes are structured to produce highly motivated and conscientious individuals for all level of education. “And so making the CoE a third choice for candidates is a kind of retrogressing and that shows we do not cherish teachers education. Teaching is the mother of all profession, and so making the colleges where the best candidates are supposed to be trained as third choice is not the best for this country. In fact it ought to be the first choice, because teachers are builders and moulders of the society, so I see no reason why CoE should be made third choice in JAMB.

“That policy that made education colleges third choice in JAMB should be reversed. CoE is not a dumping ground, and when you look at the criteria for NCE and the qualifications for any secondary school leaver coming for NCE, it is the same five credits including English and Mathematics, so why must it be made as third choice. The O’ level entry requirements are almost the same. So what is the justification of making it third choice? It is not the best for the country. JAMB should give the students the preference to make their choices. It is more or less telling us that colleges of education are second fiddle, which is supposed not to, because we are the builders and moulders of the society.”

The comrade said, perhaps this discrimination is the reason most CoE are now clamouring for dual mode where they can award NCE and also degrees. “Some states have already transformed their CoE institutions into university status. They operate the dual mode system awarding NCE and degree. In overseas, that is the nomenclature, you see colleges that award degrees, they also award NCE, so now it depends on the students, when they finish NCE they can immediately proceed for the two or three years degree programme as the case may be.”

Reechoing Avosetiyen’s opinion, the Chairman, Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education in Nigeria (SSUCOEN), AOCOED chapter, Comrade Wunmi Ombugadu, regretted that education institutions and courses are usually the last resort for students, insisting that JAMB must review the policy.

She said making CoE a first choice institution and upgrading it to a university status will make a lot of difference in teacher education system, as a lot of candidates especially the brilliant students prefer university education and will not like to settle for anything less.

But former Edo State Commissioner for Education, and Head of Department, Educational Foundation, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Ngozi Osarenren, begs to differ from the views of the previous speakers on the matter.

She said CoE are operating at intermediate level and so cannot be made institutions of first choice in JAMB. She explained that according to the national policy on education, CoE curriculum is designed to cater for the basic education sub-sector.

She explained that the mandate of the teacher training programmes at the NCE level, which is the recognised minimum teaching qualification in Nigeria, is to produce quality teachers for the basic education sub-sector.

She said, “They are middle level institutions, that is what they are structured for, the reason their students go for finishing programmes when they complete their NCE programmes. If they are agitating to become institutions of first choice why did they find it convenient to take lower admission criteria? They use to accept 150 or 160 as cut-off marks some years back. This year it is 100. Will they become institutions of first choice with 100 as cut off marks? These are questions they need to provide answers for.”

Osarenren further added that according to CoE mandates, NCE candidates are prepared for pre-primary, primary and junior secondary, saying they cannot take senior secondary schools, until they go for B.Sc Ed/B.A (Ed) programmes. “I recognise the important role played by the CoE in the training of teachers for the educational sector especially at the basic education level.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for JAMB, Dr Benjamin Fabian, said there is no static first choice in the current admission procedures for tertiary institutions, as the decision is entirely that of students to make.

He said, “We have a new structure, which kicked off last year, any tier of tertiary education can be first choice depending on what candidates want. When the COEASU president raised the issue, the JAMB registrar, Prof Is-haq Oloyede explained to him, that CoE is not a third choice education. The new JAMB structure offers candidates’ opportunity to choose either CoE, polytechnic or university as their first choice, second or third choice in no particular order. So it is entirely in the hands of candidate. Any tier of tertiary education could be first choice. It is not static.”

But when The Guardian visited Bafuto Computer and Secretarial School, where registration for the 2018 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) is ongoing, the Centre Administrator, Adekunle Banjo, an engineer, maintained that the current procedure still places university education as first choice, followed by polytechnic, as second; CoE as third and then Innovative Institutions as fourth choice.

The innovative institutions he added are recognised by JAMB and they award Ordinary National Diplomas (OND) to students. “The admission procedure is still as usual. Universities are first choice, followed by polytechnics, colleges of education and the innovative institutions. This is the way it is structured in the JAMB form,” he said.

Now, going by the submissions of all the stakeholders, it is obvious that there is a missing link in the country’s admission system as far as education colleges are concerned.

There is an urgent need for JAMB, the National Council of Education, COEASU, and other affected stakeholders to rally and harmonise the admission criteria for the CoE in the country. Will JAMB look into all these issues and educate candidates on what is expected of them while filling their forms, now that any tier of the tertiary education could be first, second or third choice?