SINCE the timely emergence of the Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan, in Nigeria’s higher education emporium, the various segment of the public, very many stakeholders and players in the country’s higher education sector, as well as the different vibrant sections of the media, have increasingly been showing an unusual interest in its mission, vision, activities, and the philosophy that undergirds its operations. They are attentively paying attention to Tech-U, intently eager to find out what it seeks to do differently to improve the fortunes of higher education in Nigeria. Their uncommon attention to the University’s vision, an idea which the management team of the institution led by Prof. Ayobami Salami agrees is ambitious but achievable, underscores quite expressively the fact that a substantial number of Nigerians yearn avidly for higher institutions whose existence and operations will consistently positively impact the country’s socioeconomic affairs.
To render it more clearly, Tech-U’s structured and strategic entrance into Nigeria’s higher education space has provoked manifold questions, which are as critical and germane as they are revealing and fascinating. Those who chuck the pebble of questions on the relevance of this University in view of the barely functional lots on ground, its ownership, curriculums, tuition, funding model, carrying capacity, infrastructure, staff, hostel accommodation – among many others –, are only justly wary not to buy a pig in a poke. They want to be sure the University managers have done their homework well and will really superintend over a citadel of learning focused on the production of graduates whose training inheres deeply in a suitable combination of theory and skills, and have the confidence of their education. The unanimous response that greets the VC’s articulation of the University’s vision and mission on different platforms – and his gripping engagements with the assorted questions from the public and senior media practitioners when he toured leading media organisations both in Oyo and Lagos states recently – is best captured in the epigraph to this piece by Victor Hugo. To all intents and purposes, Tech-U is a bearer of a vision whose time has come and no force on earth (not even the circumscribing Nigerian factor) can hinder it from coming to fruition!
A product of the present administration under the focused leadership of the admired Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Tech-U answers to the crying need for such rounded and sound education that imbues young minds with the requisite skills and knowledge for the advancement of self and society. It is in the exceptional focus on entrepreneurship and skill acquisition as fundamental components of quality technical education that the relevance of the institution on the one hand, and the creative thinking of the Oyo governor on the other hand, can be truly appreciated. It is not a moot point that a solely theory-based education limits its receivers; they are hardly different from a bird with one wing. But at Tech-U, what is on offer is a fully functional technical education which – as its motto advertises – develops brains and trains hands.
The overall goal of the managers of Tech-U is that no graduate of the institution will roam the streets in search of elusive jobs. Regardless of the courses of study of students, they will all at inception sign in for two vocational programmes at the institution’s Centre for Entrepreneurial and Vocational Programmes. They will undergo training in any of the chosen vocations for three years. Established hands in the different vocations will be the tutors, not regular lecturers. They will be the ones to affirm the competence of the student apprentices based on demonstration of it. The trainees will be exposed to the nitty-gritty of the vocations and their economic core. They will learn about business management, how to pen business proposal, and hone their creative abilities. All Tech-U students will equally undergo training in French language. This is meant to widen their sphere of operation after graduation. The idea is to harness the gains that come with being bilingual. Language is best learnt in the environment of active use. Hence the immersion angle to the training. This will take place at the French Village in Badagry, Lagos State, and Cotonou in the Republic of Benin. The University’s Centre for Language and General Studies will effectively see to this.
With all of these and the core academic programmes, the University is fully ready to take off. There is nothing promised in the area of quality training of students and living up to the billing of a true lighthouse of knowledge that will not be delivered. Tech-U is not established to score political point; it exists to fill a gap that has long robbed not only Nigerian youths but also the larger society. It is out to chart a new course in teaching, training, research, and socioeconomic development. It seeks to take the poisonous sting out of the discomfiting bite of youth unemployment and make a huge dent on the hideous monster of youth un-employability. Fifteen academic programmes of the University have received full accreditation of the National Universities Commission (NUC). The accreditation of these programmes means that the regulatory body, NUC, is satisfied that the institution has both the human capacities and the facilities necessary for the admission and training of students. Each of the available lecture rooms sits 24 students. All the classrooms have air conditioners. The hostel accommodation is livable and secure. It is the resolve of the management that no one student who cannot be properly taken care of will be admitted. By 7th of January 2018, the pioneering students will begin their academic journey at Tech-U. There is still space now to accommodate the fully ready applicants. Tech-U has a user-friendly website – www.tech-u.edu.ng. Let us face the fact before the untruth ruins us: Providing a 21st Century technical education is cost-intensive. More, such education cannot be realised on the wonky altar of ‘free-of-charge’. In this wise, those who importune government and the management of Tech-U to populate it with students paying tokenistic fees do not seem to mean well for it.
- Ademola is Tech-U ‘s Media Officer/PRO