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Polytechnics must produce world-class technologists for industries

Posted: Apr 22, 2015 at 1:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Dr. Idongesit Udom is the founder and proprietor of Sure Foundation Polytechnic, Ukanafun Local Government area of Akwa Ibom State. Counting on his wealth of experience both locally and internationally, he explains to our CORRESPONDENT, Idongesit Ashameri, the prospects of the institution and faculty to train technologist for industries. Excerpts:

What innovations are you bringing to the Polytechnic tertiary education sector?

Dr. Idongesit Udom

Dr. Idongesit Udom

Well, Sure Foundation Polytechnic is not money focused; the main aim is not to make money, but to develop well-trained technologists and engineers that would serve Nigerian industries.

That is why if you look at the equipment that we have bought for the school, we have invested hundreds of millions on equipment alone and computers. If you look at the buildings, they are capital intensive.

We are not rushing after money, we would have started this school maybe ten years ago with two storey building but we didn’t, because we wanted to make sure we have the right equipment, where we would be able to train the right professionals.

Here we are not only going to produce welders, we are going to train people that would be sent to industries with welding certificates from Briton. If we produce our HND in computer science, those people are going to sit for ANAN, CISCO and CNNA examination and also pass. Occupational health and safety, we are going to expose our students to Nebosh Diploma in UK. So we are going to combine international certification with our higher diploma.

What is responsible for your passion and commitment in a sector that does guaranteed quick returns on investment?

My investment in education is driven by the aftermath of the Nigerian civil war. All the buildings in my village were burnt down by the Nigerian soldiers because my uncle was an NCNC supporter.

When I gained admission into secondary school in Urua Inyang in 1970, I was not allowed to attend classes because I had no uniform, no shoes, no text nor exercise books. In 1978, I enrolled at Community Technical College, Ikot Akata with only five pounds that was not enough to pay for my boarding, because I needed 10 pounds for my boarding, and tuition which I didn’t have.

Thus my father had to plead with Chief A. A. Inoh, the founder of that school to accept me. A brilliant performance in my first year at the college earned me the Cross River State scholarship. I also gained admission to study at the Polytechnic Calabar and through Engineer Udofia, who was my head of department; I won scholarship to study in America

So, all my life I only paid school fee for only one year during my secondary education, the rest was God’s favour.

My 34 year sojourn with Mobil where I worked is the bedrock of my passion for investment in the education sector. I have awarded scholarship to over 90 students across Nigerian universities. It is my vision to nurture well trained technologists and engineers for industries in the state and Ukanafun that is less privileged in this kind of exposure.

How do you hope to meet this dream in a sector that has experienced steady decline in learning facility and quality?

What the polytechnic need is good technical and secondary schools with solid foundation in physics, mathematics chemistry. It is lamentable that every time I visit Ikot Akata and former government trade center, now Technical College, Abak, I see serious level of decay, the buildings are falling apart. I have been informed that some renovations have taken place recently in Abak, but Ikot Akata is very pitiable.

This school will also run entrepreneurial courses that will support our technical colleges that is why I told you that this school will be affiliated to city and guild, we have obtained all the forms so that we can run some specialised courses in telecommunications, mechanical engineering, local courses like plumbing, electrical installation. The institution offer some pre-ND programmes to enable those who didn’t do well in technical schools to come and brush up their education.

You talked about affiliation, what is the standard of such institutions?

I’m linking this polytechnic to Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, Canada. That is a center for excellence, especially when it comes to polytechnic education. That is where Mobil trained a lot of us in power engineering, petroleum engineering and operation engineering. I did my NGL operations engineering programme at the institution. Mobil technical training center in Eket is also affiliated to that school. The institution will also be affiliated with Debra University of Technology in Dalas. It is a specialised university in telecommunication, electronics engineering, computer engineering, and bio-medical engineering.  Part of plan is combine the curriculum of all these schools with this polytechnic,

Also, affiliation with the City and Guilds of London is also part of the strategies to train quality personnel. There will be options for final year students to go for professional certification or HND only.

Are you telling us that you are also planning to connect the gown and town for quality staff and employment?

Oh why not? We have established good reputation in the industries over these years, so our recommendation to the industries is very powerful.

When will the institution begin academic activities?

By the grace of God we are commencing this coming September and with six faculties; Electrical/Electronic engineering, computer engineering, computer science, accounting, business administration and management, statistics. That was because of the number of laboratories on ground. Recently Building Technology and Mass Communication have been added. Representatives of the NBTE have been invited to come for final inspection of the facilities. After that, every year, we may be adding two to three courses.

The president-elect is waiting swearing in and his policies may make or mar the education sub-sector, what are your expectations of him as stake holder in the sector?

I think he would support education. He has already said that he would increase the budget on education. Education standard has fallen in this country, so every Nigerian President would have to work hard to improve the sector. I don’t think his policies would mar the sector. They should encourage privately owned higher institutions because of the standard. All the Nigerian government officials now are sending their children to private institutions, here, there is no strike, the standard will be very high, the student/teacher ratio is very high and we are going to produce the best for the country. The new president is not new, he had been the president of this country before, during his tenure as military president, he had supported education, and I believe he is going to do better.

Electricity is indispensable to drive laboratory facilities and equipment, in view of the protracted nature of supplies what are your expectations for the sector as we move into the next dispensation?

Well, the government has already said one of the areas they are going to focus on is power, it’s a big challenge throughout the country and in Ukanafun here, it is very poor. So I believe that the incoming government will advance from where the present administration stopped. In Akwa Ibom State, the government has displayed interest to improve this sector with the independent power project, replaced weak and faulty electricity cables across the state. Now that we have good roads with good electrical pools in the state I believe that the government at all levels will take the issue of power very seriously.