Provost, Abia State College of Education Arochukwu, Dr Philip Nto, has explained that part of the plans to upgrade the institution to a university of education was to boost students’ enrollment which, according to him, is grossly inadequate.
The Provost who made the explanation at a press conference after conducting newsmen round the on-going projects in the institution, regretted that the preference for university degree over National Certificate of Education, NCE, had drastically affected students’ enrollment in the college.
He expressed optimism that when the Bill which had already gone for public hearing, was eventually passed into law, student population which has now diminished, would improve.
Dr Nto said that the geographical location of the institution at an equidistance to neigbouring Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi States, put it at an advantaged position to attract students from outside the state.
“That’s why the Governor has approved that the college should be upgraded to a university. Recently, we went for public hearing. Once the Bill is passed and the Governor assents to it this place will be populate because everybody now wants university degree.
“NCE is already going into extinction, we need to think out of the box. We have the infrastructure, we have all the buildings and facilities that can enable a university take-off here.
“Without students in all these buildings, it means we are building for reptiles. That’s why we will continue to work hard to ensure this place is upgraded.
“Once we take off, students will come because nobody wants to play a second fiddle. NCE is a long route to acquiring a degree”.
He, further, said that the university when approved, was structured to operate under Public Private Partnership, PPP, so that it would not have to depend solely on funding by Government.
The Provost said the institution decided to establish Centre for Continuing Education to help train people interested in certificate course in various vocations such as welding, fashion design, hair dressing, etc.
Dr Nto who said he had erected 15 quality buildings since he came on board in the last seven years, lauded the management of TetFUND for its numerous assistance to the institution.
He recalled that TetFUND had prior to his arrival, blacklisted the College following the breach of TetFUND rules by his predecessor who did not satisfactorily deploy funds from the agency.
“It may be surprising how I achieved all these within seven years only while the College has lasted for over 30 years staying in the old buildings donated at inception.
“It’s only through God. Initially I didn’t want to come here after serving as Commissioner for Finance. I nearly rejected the appointment but when the Governor told me he would want me to come and solve a problem here, I decided to come.”
He said some people had thought the Governor sent him to his village to retire him but thanked God for the huge infrastructural strides recorded under his watch.
The former Finance Commissioner said that he also leveraged on his contacts and exposure to explore opportunity to attract funds to the College, disclosing that he had attracted special grant from the Federal Ministry of Education for the building of a befitting entrance gate to the institution.
He debunked allegations by some detractors that projects executed in the institution were substandard, explaining that there is no way they will access new funds from TetFUND without utilizing the previous fund according to specifications.
Dr Nto who would soon be completing his second tenure as Provost vowed to sustain the on-going infrastructural revolution to reposition the College.