Built for Global Competition
IMAGE: Liyel Imoke, Cross River State Governor »
Early in the second term of his administration, Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke commenced the process of establishing a new polytechnic for the state to be located in the central part of Cross River State.
Imoke had promised, while campaigning for a second term in office that he would ensure a polytechnic is established in Ugep, the headquarters of Yakurr Local Government Area of the state.
With the process in motion, Imoke in October last year gave an insight into what the polytechnic, named Institute of Technology and Management would be, when he solicited the approval of N1.billion last year for the construction of infrastructure in the institution,
Imoke said: “The school is modelled after the Highbury College, Portsmouth, United Kingdom (UK). And because of its world-class reputation as an institution of note we decided to partner it so as to replicate it in Nigeria as a first of its kind.”
After about one year of the completion of the first set of infrastructure on the campus of the institution located on an expansive parcel of land off the Calabar-Ikom Highways, normal academic activities commenced in September.
For stakeholders in the education sector of the state, the establishment of the ITM could not have happened at a better time than now, more so, as the historic Calabar Polytechnic had been phased out when the state government during the administration of governor, Donald Duke scrapped it and the College of Education Akamkpa to establish the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH).
Imoke had long ago restored the College of Education to its former status as a National Certificate of Education (NCE) awarding institution, just as he has ensured the state got another polytechnic with technology, management and entrepreneurship as its cardinal focus.
The ITM commended in the current academic session with sixty students who are variously studying Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Information Technology and Computer Management and Leisure and Tourism.
From information obtained from the management of the school, more courses would be offered after the current academic session.
Rector of the institution, William Pedley, told THISDAY, recently, that the decision to commence academic activities with three courses is a deliberate policy which the management embarked on to ensure the school grows gradually, but steadily.
Pedley said Courses such as physics, chemistry and biology, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering and other practical heavy duty automotive courses will commence in 215.
The rector said the addition of these courses would be part of the second phase of the expansion of the polytechnic in terms of its academic and vocational curricula.
Explaining what the students that have commenced the first session will experience, the rector said: “The students are going to be privileged. They are going to have fantastic student/teacher ratios. Student teacher ratio is never going to be more than one to thirty in any case. Often classes are team taught, so the student/teacher relationship is actually one to fifteen. So each teacher starts from a group of 15 students that they not only teach but see outside those lectures to deal with personal issues. Again and every student is going to have a personal learning plan tailored to their personal needs.
“The student is at the heart of everything we do. We only exist here to answer to the needs of these individual students. So whatever they need to be successful, we would provide that for them. We are not just saying, learn this shut up and go away. We want to find out who they are and work with them. What they are telling me is that this is new in Nigeria. So that is what makes us unique.
“We take students who have the appropriate JAMB scores and we also have an entry test. When people apply for different courses, they don’t necessarily have to get to those courses, because we look at what they are best at. And then when they come we give them further test to check that those scores match their capabilities and if we detect that there are stronger in other areas, and then we would talk to them to maybe consider something else. But that depends on the individual.”
On the teaching and learning method the Pedley said; “Here we don’t use black boards or chalk boards. What we have here are a series of different rooms equipped differently according to what we intend to happen in those different rooms. Some are conference rooms for business meeting classes. They all have IT facilities in them. We have IT laboratories and the teaching is with the use of smart boards. Lecturers with their laptops deliver information through the internet or materials created by the students themselves in association with the lecturers.
“The teachers teach beyond the classroom. Not just theories. It is not monotonous transfer of knowledge. The primary motivation here is to see your son or daughter acquire skills which are directly transferrable and which would get them a job. When you send them here, they are going to be employable straight away. Also you will know that we would make the most of every individual. We want everybody to pass. We are not here to set impossibly high standards and only a tiny percentage pass. We are going to give them international class qualifications and competencies which should enable them to get a job anywhere in the world. We are going to make the most of the children.
“We certainly intend work with leading companies to provide them with a future workforce. We intend to place the students to work with them on projects and apprenticeships. We also would welcome companies sending us their employees for training and so on. We would be looking to work with major companies to open the doors to our students to show them the real world and what companies need and prove to those companies as well that if you are looking for people, we have them.
“The teachers are very enthusiastic and have already made a good impression on the students. It is really the student’s view that counts here. The teachers are competent and capable. They are primarily from Nigeria. But we have one expert member of staff, teaching and we intend to recruit more as we move into the next phase.”
Chairman of the Implementation Committee of the Polytechnic and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar , Prof Ivara Esu, said that the courses, Business Management and Entrepreneurship; Information Technology and Computer Management; and Leisure and Tourism, chosen to start off were also based on an industry survey of the state.
Esu said Cross River State is a flagship in tourism and ICT the order of the day, hence there was need to improve the nation’s economy through “building entrepreneurial studies to emphasise encourage businesses.”
With complete hostels for male and female students as well as well-equipped classrooms and ICT facilities, the Rector explained why the first sets of students are just sixty, saying “about 150 students were expected but, the delay in the opening also affected the situation. When fully operational it would accommodate a maximum of 2000 students.
He said the third phase of implementation of the academic curriculum would be in line with the market demands of the immediate environment and the national environment.
“We would have a phase three and in that phase, the world is our oyster. We can pretty much put on any course required. The point of all these is that we would react to local and national demand so, we may have different kinds of courses, depending on the needs of Nigeria and Cross River in particular. I believe in this project. I like Nigeria’s attitude towards vocational education,” Pedley said.
Coordinator of the project Professor Patrick Ukata who also added his voice in explaining what the school was established to achieve said “the institute is a manifestation of the vision of the governor to establish a first class, state of the art institution, one that will take vocational training to the next level. What you have seen here, is a demonstration of that vision being actualised, in that we have facilities that can rival any around the world now. What we are trying to do is make sure that all the students that come in here , avail themselves of the kids of equipment they will need anywhere around the world if they were engaged in any particular profession. And they do that from day one and get real hands-on experience that will enable them acquire all the skills they need for the practical world once they live this institution. So, essentially, we are trying to actualise the governor’s dream of building one of the finest institutions in the world right here in Ugep, Cross River State, to serve the need of Nigeria.”
As the institution is expected to grow steadily to the world-class institution it is hoped that it would at all times maintain its uniqueness as a polytechnic designed to be students-oriented.
Article Credit: Thisdaylive