Recently, the Federal Government announced a new teachers’ salary scheme for teachers in the country. That decision and the establishment of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria; institutions which hitherto were not there in the recent past, underpins the fact that teachers’ rewards are no longer in heaven but here with us. Interestingly enough, the total import of what the Federal Government did and of course the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, are to emphasize how important teaching as a profession has become.

It is against this backdrop that any discerning person should appreciate the power of foresight in the establishment of the Abia State College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu in April 1993 as the only teachers training college in the State though with bias and emphasis on technical education. According to Section 4 (1) of the Edict establishing her, the College shall provide full and part time courses in teaching, instruction and training in technology, applied sciences, management sciences, business education, commerce, art and in such other relevant fields of applied learning relevant to the needs of and adaptation of the economy, etc. 

The College was also established to produce professionally trained and competent teachers in vocational, technical, business, agricultural and commercial education appropriate for primary and secondary classes in Nigeria as well as produce skilled, self-reliant, resourceful and enterprising craftsmen and technicians. These are the core mandates of the Abia State College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu and it is therefore not in doubt that since inception, the College has carried out these core mandates with determination, guts and commitment, though with a few minor hiccups which are currently being addressed squarely by the present administration in the State and supervised by the management of the College ably led by the Provost of the College, Prof. Vincent Eze Onweh.

At this juncture, it becomes imperative to do a comprehensive appraisal of the importance of vocational and technical education in Nigeria; the training of teachers to midwife the effective impartation of these fundamental instruments of grassroots development and their strategic importance thereof. According to the country’s National Policy on Education, 16th Edition (2013), it is the education that is concerned with qualitative technological human resources development directed towards a national pool of skilled and self-reliant craftsmen, technicians and technologists in technical and vocational educational fields.

Subsequently, the vital role of vocational and technical education “is the production of skilled and competent manpower for economic, industrial and social development for the nation”. This is exactly what the Abia State College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu was set to achieve and the College has over the years demonstrated capacity and professionalism in achieving those with the quality of management, lecturers and facilities the College has; all thanks to the State Governor, Dr Alex Chioma Otti OFR and his team of technocrats and eggheads, the Provost, the current management and of course, the Academic Board of the College.

Since inception, the College has produced trained manpower in applied sciences, technology and commerce at the sub-professional level as well as competent teachers and graduates in technical fields for primary and junior secondary schools in accordance with the 6-3-3-4 system of education. In the realization of this, many students have so far graduated from the College. So it is a thing of joy that most graduates of the College have turned out to be self-employed and employers of labour.

The College has a total of Six Schools and 24 Departments.  The schools are: 

(1) School of Education 

(2) School of Arts and Social Sciences 

(3) School of Business Education 

(4) School of Technical Education 

(5) School of Science/Technical Education and 

(6) School of Vocational Studies.

The College has been battling with myriads of challenges which have affected its fortunes. Some of which include but not limited to irregular payment of salaries, series of industrial actions by the workers unions in the College and a few other problems that virtually made the College a ghost of its self with low students population. However, in the last few months, the fortunes of the College have taken a turn for the better and a very bright future beckons. Happily, the College management with the collaboration of the current administration in the State led by Dr Alex Chioma OTTI OFR have taken the bull by the horn to confront these myriads of problems headlong. Amazing results have been achieved however; therefore, the College is poised to live up to the dreams and aspirations of the State Government that set her up. 

It is important to reiterate with emphasis that the College has potentials and should be encouraged by not just the State Government, but by every patriotic Abian if the vision of the founding fathers of the Institution must be realized. Although many have questioned and blamed the location of the College for its seemingly slow pace of growth, this perceived weakness is actually one of its strengths particularly with the ongoing reconstruction of the major routes that led to Arochukwu; the Ohafia – Arochukwu Road, the Itumbauzo – Arochukwu Road, the Akwa Ibom section of the road is motorable  and the Umuahia – Abam- Okobo- Arochukwu road, among others. 

Additionally, because Arochukwu shares boundaries with Cross River and Akwa Ibom States students from those States have in the past, exploited the advantage foisted on them by the closeness of the College since many graduates of the College were from those States; in addition to those from Ebonyi and Abia, the host State. Besides since the College is an institution that trains students to be self-reliant, it has the capacity to change the economic fortunes of our young graduates. 

There is no denying the fact that poor funding and low staff morale have somewhat negatively affected the development of the College. A highly motivated work force can enhance the fortunes of the College especially in the area of students’ enrolment, after all “good market sells itself”. On the other hand, adequate funding will ensure functionality of all sectors of the College including the revenue yielding ones that can help sustain the College financially. All the College requires are the refocusing of its vision, exploration of its huge potentials through adequate funding and of course a reinvigoration of the flagging work force. These, the duo of the State Government led by Dr Alex Chioma Otti OFR and the Provost of the College, Prof. Vincent Eze Onweh are addressing squarely.

Fortunately, with the current assistance and intervention of the State Government, Abia state College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu is working towards fixing some of the immediate problems confronting her but more needs to be done if the momentum to transform the College to a befitting College of Education must be realized.

The College’s management, staff and students are grateful that the State Government has recommenced the release of monthly subventions to her but more needs to be done to meet the compelling needs of the College in the area of infrastructural development. 

On assumption of office as the Provost, Prof. Vincent Eze Onweh adopted some strategies to leap frog development and propel the College towards becoming the festination of choice the current administration in the State is determined to make it to become. The strategies include but not limited to: improving on her IGR through establishing a poultry farm with initial 2,000 birds before the end of 2024, revitalizing the fish pond as well as upgrade the entrepreneurship scheme of the College to train artisans and craftsmen and give academic background to their skills. The catchment zone for this is expected to be the College’s immediate environment.

Interestingly, the College has a lot of equipment in her School of Technical Education; for instance, the Mechanical Department has the equipment procured by Tetfund which can be used to produce iron doors in commercial quantity. Additionally, the College is poised to intensify efforts towards restoring and strengthening affiliations with Michael Okpara University of Agriculture and the Abia State University Uturu, and ensure that the requirements of Nigeria University Commission (NUC) are met timorously. To achieve this, the College is determined to partner with principal stakeholders in the education sector like JAMB, NUC, TETFUND, NCCE to see to the possibility of increasing her student enrolment. The Provost’s recent visit to these agencies is indicative of the College management’s determination to change the fortunes of the College in line with the State Governor’s policy initiatives and direction, added to the aggressive networking and advocacy in the media which has been adopted. The visits were principally aimed at strengthening ties with key stakeholders, identify areas for collaboration with a view to addressing the challenges hindering ASCETA's growth and partnerships which included but not limited to improving the student population and by extension increase her IGR.

The College urgently needs a life-line in the form of an intervention fund to enable it get fully back on its feet. The State Government can do it. Dr Alex Otti OFR, the education friendly Governor of our dear State can and by the grace of God do it. We are optimistic about that.  It is a thing of joy that misconceptions about the College are being addressed; issues like none payment of salaries and other mitigating problems have virtually been solved. Thanks to the State Government headed by Dr Alex Chioma Otti and his team. 

On accreditation, many of the courses offered in the College have been accredited by relevant agencies. This is due to the dexterity and foresightedness of the College Governing Council, management and a host of other principal officers and staff of the College. Some of the accredited courses include: Education, Technical Education, Mathematics, Computer Education, Igbo Language, Business Education, Social Studies, Agricultural Science Education, Christian Religious Studies, English language, Home Economics, Fine and Applied Arts, Political Science and Economics. Only three courses; Biology, Physics and Chemistry have interim accreditation. The College’s goal has always been to ensure that students who graduate through this College can be proud to say that they had an all-round education.

Most importantly, certificates are awarded on demand by graduates of the College unlike what it was in the previous years. These are enablers and incentives that should spur intelligent and focused intending undergraduates to make Abia State College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu their destination of choice. As the 2024/25 academic session beckons, parents, guardians and youths who have the desire to advance their academic accomplishments have a window of opportunity in ASCETA. 

Prof Vincent Eze Onweh MNAE, MNIM MSET

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