Dr. Esrom Toro Jokthan is the pioneer Provost of Gombe State College of Education (CoE), Billiri. In this interview with ABDUL LAUYA, he bares his mind on how the institution is providing sound teacher education in line with the requirement of National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE).
When Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo appointed Dr. Jokthan in 2013 to pioneer the newly created state-owned College of Education, the mandate was clear: “Enthrone a world class enviable teacher education standard.”
A holder of the Teacher Grade II Certificate; NCE and a PhD, the Dadiya-born Associate Professor of Educational Psychology seems to understand his brief very well.
Jokthan told The AUTHORITY that, the College is founded on core minimum academic standards of the NCCE. The former Ahmadu Bello University’s don said he spent two years ferociously trying to ensure a smooth take-off of the College, while the remaining years was actually spent in the office.
“More than half of my tenure was spent doing preliminary work/foundation laying to get the college on its footing. I spent the remaining two years in the office, and ended up with Pre- NCE and NCE 1 students before I left in July 2017,” he said.
According to the ex-provost, the results achieved are manifested in the areas of the institution’s s academic staff requirement and support facilities (lecturer –students’ ratio), quality teachers/teaching, favourable teaching and learning environment, as well as academic freedom, among others.
He said in keeping with the requirement of quality and lecturer- students’ ratio, the school as at July 2017 had a total of 327 staff comprising 90 academics, 237 non-academics, grooming over 715 students in 49 programmes. Both categories were painstakingly selected in line with the founding vision of the college.
On the decision for establishing the college, the ex-provost said the move has gone a long way to ensure qualified teachers are produced in the state.
His words : “When this government came in it was discovered that there were a lot of unqualified teachers in our public primary and secondary schools that required training and retraining, which only an indigenous CoE is best suited to train its manpower best on its needs.
“These categories of teachers have been identified and are currently being retrained in the new CoE, while some of them that cannot meet the requirements are sent packing on compulsory retirement because they do not have the prerequisite qualification to function as teachers.
“Besides, the CoE is conventional while the FCE in Gombe is Technical; it is restricted, there are certain courses that cannot be offered, and even if they are offered they may not fit into our own general basic education system in the state, and by extension, the country. From this, it is highly desirable that the state has its own CoE.”
Speaking on the relationship between the institution’s and Federal Government agencies such as NCCE, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Jokthan said it has been nothing but cordial.
“Our working relationship with all these three Federal Government agencies has been cordial. NCCE, being our regulatory body granted the college two provisional approvals to commence Pre- NCE which we successfully commenced in 2015/2016 and have graduated into NCE 1. In August 2016 we invited NCCE for yet another inspection in readiness for the commencement of NCE programme; the outcome of which was communicated to us to commence NCE in 49 programmes.
“Cognizance of the fact that our students had not chosen CoE Billiri because we were not listed in JAMB portal, NCCE gave us introductory letters to JAMB and TETFund.
“With the support of the Commissioner for Higher Education, Dr Mohammed Isa Wade, CoE Billiri was enlisted in JAMB portal. I am happy to say that before I left in July 2017, all the 477 pioneer NCE 1 students have been matriculated. For the 2016/2017 academic session, the college had 715 students in 49 programmes, three faculties and five departments – School of General Education, Early Childhood Care Education and Junior Secondary Education.”
On his landmark achievements before bowing out as provost, Jokthan said : “As at the time I left in July 2017, we had a well equipped and functional library with latest books, journals, periodicals as latest as 2017. The college has 7 laboratories as follows: Early Childhood Care Lab, Integrated Science Lab, Micro Teaching lab, Language lab, Primary Education lab, Physics and Chemistry Labs.
“Our bursary is fully computerized, we have 200 KVA standby generator. I handed over a total of 327 staff comprising 90 academics, 237 non-academics. Government has never owed salary. We have our own academic gowns. But like Oliver twist, I would like to appeal to his Excellency to complete students’ hostels, library, build additional classes, administrative block as well as provide perimeter fencing for the college.
“Government should also provide official and utility vehicles including ambulance to enhance effective service delivery.”