By Seun Oyewole
Situated in the serene and peaceful environment of Iyamho in Edo State, is one of the youngest state universities in Nigeria, Edo University, has become a model for the 21st century university system in the country.
Established on the premise of reducing education tourism among young school leavers, EUI has, no doubt, become a benchmark for the university system in Nigeria; be it public or private. In just two years of its existence, the university has been adjudged the Best State University and Third Best University in Nigeria based on the results of the Open Education Resources Ranking conducted by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
Achieving this feat is not just about the magnificent buildings that adorn the landscape of the university but also the ultramodern facilities available as well the mode of teaching adopted by the university. As strange as this may sound of a public university in Nigeria, all classrooms, workshops and laboratories at EUI are equipped with projectors, multimedia systems, smartboards and automatic temperature-controlled air-conditioning systems.
EUI also boasts of the first Anatomage table for the teaching of medical students in a Nigerian university as well as the state-of-the-art science laboratories, gross anatomy laboratory, skills and power laboratories, all for the teaching of science and medical science related courses. Following the good example of the University of Ibadan, EUI is the second university in Nigeria to introduce the Competency Based Curriculum for the training of medical students.
In addition, the Mass Communication Department of EUI is blessed with the latest equipment in radio and television broadcasting as well as a language laboratory. The equipment at the engineering workshops are top-notch such that the President of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Engr. Kashim Abdul Ali, during a visit to the university campus, with other members of the body, confessed that he was highly impressed with the facilities at the institution and the body cannot but give its approval to all engineering programmes offered at the university. “Having visited several universities in Nigeria and abroad, I am very impressed with the facilities on ground. The engineering programmes have met all the basic requirements and they can be compared with what is obtainable in the civilized world. It gives me the hope that Nigeria can be where it should be shortly”, Ali had said during the visit.
Power outage is never a problem as the campus runs on 24-hour-power supply; so also is the supply of potable water in the university community. There is also Wi-Fi service across the length and breadth of the campus, buses for the movement of staffers and students, and adequate security in terms of technology with the deployment of CCTV cameras across the campus as well as man-guards.
Apart from a well-stocked physical library where students can read books based on modern technologies, there is an e-library that is well equipped with computer systems for up to 300 students at a sitting. Students can also log-on to the university’s e-library from anywhere in the world through their mobile phones, tablets and computers for further studies, thus simplifying the process of getting assignments done. The male and female hostels are a beauty to behold as they come with cafeterias, supermarkets, recreation rooms and reading halls with modern furniture, toilet wares and beddings all to ensure that the students are not only comfortable but also for them to appreciate the environment in which they are learning.
Of course, questions have been asked on why Edo State government had to establish another university when it already had one, and also why the state government didn’t upgrade the facilities at its first university instead of creating a new one. The truth is that, there is no way that could have been achieved in an environment that is used to a particular process and system for over three decades without challenges which could terminate the initiative at a budding stage, thereby resulting in a loss of huge financial resources because, at EUI, lecturers are not just sent to the classrooms to teach, they are first taught in the 21st century model of teaching before entering the classrooms which will definitely see a high level of resistance in a conventional Nigerian public university.
Also, the state government has been able to realise that a major problem bedevilling the educational system in Nigeria is the maintenance of facilities and the lack of adherence to best practices which brought about decay in the system and consequently education tourism for what ordinarily should be available in Nigeria. Thus, in setting up EUI, the vision of the founding fathers is to replicate what is obtainable in other climes that makes Nigerians want to travel abroad for tertiary education.
During a recent visit to the university campus, Edo State Commissioner for Education, Hon. Emmanuel Agbale, bared his mind on the state administration’s vision for EUI. According to him, “the facilities are impressive and world-class. Our vision is very clear; we want the university to be one of the best, not only in the Sub-Saharan Africa, but indeed the world over, providing excellent facilities for learning and human capital development. In no distance future, the university will be a reference point for tertiary education in Nigeria.”
It is worthy to note that all programmes at EUI are approved and accredited by relevant bodies and, in addition to providing quality education in terms of academics, the university is poised to produce skilful entrepreneurs and world-class athletes as evident in its Entrepreneurship Development Centre and sports complex. At the Entrepreneurship Development Centre, all students are mandated to undertake at least two units of entrepreneurial training per year while there is an arrangement in place to reward every graduating student with the best entrepreneurial idea with a sum of five million naira to start a business.
The sports complex makes available to students different sporting activities, ranging from outdoor to several indoor games. Of a truth, the football pitch, which sits elegantly at the middle of the sport complex, is just as beautiful as those of the English Premier League.
In a bid to expose students to international best practices, the management of the institution, led by the ingenious Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Emmanuel Aluyor, has signed a memorandum of understanding with two universities, namely, Worcester State University, Massachusetts and University of Sunderland, UK, where students of Edo University have the opportunity to spend between six months and two years for further academic training. While on a visitation to EUI, Ian Moody, the Director of International Office at the University of Sunderland, with his team, described EUI as a truly world-class institution with huge potentials. He disclosed that the MoU with the institution involves students and staff exchange programmes, joint research as well as joint funding of programmes between both universities.
Commending the management of the institution for doing an excellent job, former Chairman, Edo State House of Assembly Committee on Education, Hon. Foly Ogedengbe, praised the management for the various innovations which have been brought into the institution. He said, “The management has been able to sustain what they met on ground without third party intervention. We also appreciate the recruitment system which has brought the best hands to the university among many other innovations.”
It is important to stress that the university does not go on strike even though it is a public institution. The reason for this is not far-fetched: Both academic and non-academic staffers are well motivated with an enhanced welfare package which is above what is obtainable in other state-owned institutions. Staffers are supported for research programmes and they are re-trained periodically.
To ensure an equitable opportunity for all, Edo State government has established a platform where 100 indigent students across the 18 local governments of the state are given full scholarship to study at the institution every year.
Without mincing words, EUI is a combination of innovation, creativity and excellence. A tour of the university will, no doubt, leave those of us who attended other public universities wishing we studied in an environment that is as conducive as EUI. For this reason, kudos should be given to the state government for coming up with this laudable initiative at a time the Nigerian education system is reeling in its shadows. More importantly, the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, deserves a big applause for his unflinching support to the university. Members of the university council, led by Prof. Pat Utomi, also deserve commendation for the pace-setting voyage at Edo University.