Restoring universities’ lost tradition: The FUOYE model
As a result of this unique role, universities stand for in the life of mankind, a university environment and the inhabitants who are mostly lecturers/teachers, support staff and students, is viewed as a sacred, hallow, semi-autonomous and semi-independence place detached from the regular mad and bustling society. Hence it is generally referred to as a community, where lecturers, especially professors were seen in the demi-god mode of judges!
For a very long time in Nigeria for example, this tradition of a university was sustained, making a visit to any of them, like a pilgrimage every child or parents would want to make. To sustain the tradition, these universities were made to be self-sufficient in virtually everything they needed, especially, the essential ones; members of the academic staff, the non-academic staff and the students were able to access or procure all essential items they needed without having to go to the host communities. This is not to say that some of them, especially, members of staff were not occasionally going to the markets, however, their contacts with members of host communities, were not frequent as it is today, making the public place them in high regard.
Also for students, living off-campus was a very rare incident, as there were sufficient hostel accommodations for them, unlike today where the reverse is the case. Students’ feedings were highly subsidised that some students smuggled in their friends outside the campus, to eat while some students refused to travel home during vacations.
To sustain their semi-autonomous life pattern, most (if not all) of the universities had internally generated pipe-borne water ran throughout the campuses and alternative sources of electricity during a power outage. Aside from that some of them had bakeries, a large chunk of the food was from their farms, they had Printing Press where big-notes, jotters and the likes were produced and sold at cheaper prices in their world-class book-shops, their butteries sold drinks at cheaper prices, just as some of them ran super-markets or made some of the then famous super-markets like Leventis Stores to open branches on their campuses.
That was the tradition of the good old days, that today is like a fairy tale or tales by moonlight. It is however note-worthy that a few of the beneficiaries of this good old day like the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the Federal University Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), Prof. Abayomi Sunday Fasina, who has been in the university system for a while and have seen the evils of the derailment from the tradition, is determined to use the opportunity of being a VC to begin the process of restoring the lost university tradition in FUOYE.
It is a bitter and palpable fact that most presidents, landlords, traders and business operators in all the towns and villages where tertiary institutions’ students live off-campus particularly, in Oye Ekiti and its environ, are economically ‘hostile’ to both students and staff of FUOYE, by way of price inflation of all commodities, including residential accommodations for staff and students.
It is therefore a Messianic move when the Vice-Chancellor took the bold step to address this untold hardship, staff and students of FUOYE are going through as he marked his 100 days in office. It is remarkable he is tackling the problem head-long, beginning with the basic ones.
In line with his agenda to reduce the stress facing students especially in the area of hostel accommodation and to re-create the old tradition of giving hostel accommodation opportunities to the majority of students, the FUOYE boss upon assumption of office ordered an immediate audit of the institution’s hostel accommodation capacity and when he got the report, he lamented that it woefully fell short of meeting the demands of the over 20,000 students’ population.
Determined to bridge the yawning gap, the VC has now signed MoU with 12 private hostel developers to build and deliver before the end of the year, 24,000 affordable hostel bed spaces capable of accommodating about 70 percent of the student’s population, of over 20,000 students’. This policy would in no small measure save these innocent and poor students from Shylock land-lords and exploitations by un-friendly traders.
He has also begun to take bold steps aimed at addressing the tough housing and accommodation challenges faced by staff, in line with his resolve to restore the old legacy of the members of staff in decent accommodations and in line with the assurance he gave a delegation from the National University Commission who visited him recently. To address this, he is now partnering with the National Housing Funds and some cooperative societies to enable workers access soft loans to build their personal houses. A visit to the university today will reveal how staff are busy filling and submitting forms to access the loans.
Prof. Fasina has taken up the challenge of providing a conducive learning school environment for staff’s children, as he announced a plan to establish in September a comprehensive staff school that would consist of the nursery, primary and secondary school, close to the main campus. In pursuit of this, he has successfully acquired 72 plots of land from Aiyegbaju, a neighbouring community.
As a Professor of Agriculture, the VC has vowed to translate his acquired knowledge to practice and ensure that the university and its host communities are guaranteed food security, throughout the year. To achieve this, he has kicked off the process of launching a high-level commercial farming programme using the Ikole mini-campus which has over 1,000 hectares of virgin agricultural land.
As part of his agenda to make the institution self-sufficient, Prof. Fasina has set in motion a water project that will produce table and sachet water for the fast increasing university community. Another effort in this direction was the establishment of a Bakery for the production of bread, snacks, cakes and the rest of them, a project he commissioned last week during the celebration of his 100 days in office.
Also worthy of mentioning in the bid to make the university truly semi-autonomous, is the FUOYE Printing Press stocked with state of the art printing facilities, flagged off last week by the VC. With this, the university would now be able to produce all the notebooks needed by students and office papers for the various departments. In order to keep members of staff away from the menace and nuisance often associated with some relaxation centres outside the campus, the new FUOYE Administrator has established a Staff Club for members of staff.
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