The prestigious Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education has finally transitioned to the Alvan Ikoku University of Education, Owerri. This historic transformation was announced to pressmen by Dr. (Mrs.) Stella Ngozi Lemchi, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration) of the University, at a press briefing on November 7th, 2023.
Dr. (Mrs.) Stella Ngozi Lemchi chronicled the institution’s humble beginnings in 1963 as an Advanced Teachers’ Training College (ATTC) and its evolution to a full-fledged College of Education in 1973 named after the great educationist Alvan Ikoku. Dr. Lemchi also recalled that the College commenced the award of the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degree in affiliation with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1981 and then later in 2007, the College was taken over by the Federal Government becoming the 21st Federal College of Education in Nigeria. She also noted the pioneering steps toward post-graduate education in 2012 with the Professional Diploma in Education. Finally, in April 2015, the then Federal Government of Nigeria announced its upgrade, alongside three other Colleges, to a University. However, the succeeding Federal Government placed a hold on the upgrade.
Dr. (Mrs.) Lemchi recounted that on 2nd June 2023, the Federal Ministry of Education announced that the hold placed on the University status of the College had been lifted, following which the Ministry sent an Assessment Team comprising officials from Federal Ministry of Education (FME), National Universities Commission (NUC), National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). According to her, the team’s job was to carry out a detailed inventory and appraisal of all existing physical facilities, students, academic staff and academic structure for teaching and learning, with particular reference to their adequacy, quality and relevance to the new University.
Following a truncated upgrade in 2015, the long-held dream finally materialised on 20th October, 2023 when the Federal Ministry of Education confirmed the official take-off of Alvan Ikoku University of Education, Owerri via a press release by the Federal Ministry of Education. The Acting DVC announced that the Federal Government appointed the Provost of the erstwhile College as the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration) of the University, while other Principal Officers of the erstwhile College were to continue to discharge their duties in acting capacity until substantive Principal Officers of the University are appointed.
She expressed heartfelt appreciation to all who played a part in this historic achievement, especially President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In her words: “we thank especially the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, for the prompt final approval for immediate take-off of the University.”
Dr. Lemchi also acknowledged the Federal Ministry of Education and the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman saying, “we remain grateful to the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), under the inspiring leadership of the Honourable Minister for Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, for being there for us all through the long journey, providing guidance and objective assessment and recommendations on the true status of our institution.”
Special words of praise were reserved for Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State “for his dedicated commitment to the final realisation of the University status. The Acting DVC acknowledged the strategic moves made by the Governor from the time of former President Muhammadu Buhari until the final pronouncement of the upgrade by the Federal Government. Expressing her immense gratitude to Governor Hope Uzodimma, Dr. Lemchi said: “We thank you immensely, Sir, for your unwavering love, exceptional efforts and commendable commitment in making our University a reality. May God bless you immensely Sir.”
Gratitude was also expressed for the role played by the three Unions representing the institution’s staff. Dr. Lemchi also acknowledged the dedication of the institution’s over 400 Ph.D. holders, who resisted the lure of other Universities, and the invaluable support of the media throughout the years.
While fielding questions from the press, the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor explained that students currently admitted in the B.Ed programme under the University of Nigeria, Nsukka will graduate on the platform they were admitted – that is, their certificates would be awarded to them by University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She also added that students who were currently in the NCE programme would finish their programme and graduate.
In response to a question about admission into programmes in the institution, Dr. (Mrs.) Lemchi revealed that Alvan Ikoku University of Education (AUIE) is expected to be listed on the JAMB portal in January, 2024 for prospective students to apply, adding that, hopefully, by September 2024, the University will admit its first batch of students.
In conclusion, Dr. (Mrs.) Lemchi reiterated that the institution was known for excellence, emphasising that in its sixty years of existence, the institution had produced top-level manpower, not only in the educational sector but equally in the political, administrative and industrial sectors of the nation.