In its 86 years of existence, the Teachers’ Training College Gindiri in Plateau State still appears stoic, even though its structures were mostly built with mould blocks. Set up by Williams Muckle Bristow, the Teachers Training College was established as a training centre for evangelists and teachers by the Sudan United Missionary in 1934.
Records from the school show that the college began as a training centre which was later taken over by the Plateau State Ministry of Education as a Government College in 1976, under the administration of the former Benue/Plateau Military administration of Joseph Gomwalk. When the thought to start a post primary education in the centre became necessary, the training centre commenced a secondary programme in 1985, and in 2002, the college was handed back to the Church as COCIN Comprehensive School (Church of Christ in Nations, COCIN).
Presently known as the Comprehensive College Gindiri, in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State, the 86-year-old college has churned out many eminent Nigerians including former Plateau State Governor and National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Solomon Lar, former Minister of Sports, Damishi Sango, former Deputy Senate President, Senator Nasiru Mantu and former Minister of Aviation, Samuel Mopiay. It is the third oldest post primary institution in the north of the Niger and also the first private faith-based institution that offered various subjects at both senior and junior sections raging from humanities, social science, business studies, science and mathematics, and technology.
The school’s Vice Principal Administration, Abednego Dakrom, said despite the shortfall in the income of the school as a result of decrease in student’s enrolment, the college has maintained the standard previously set up by its founder to ensure quality education. “Even with limited resources, the school has been able to employ and maintain the needed teachers in all the 36 subjects the school offers in both the senior and junior sections,” he said.
The Vice Principal explained that “For those that are in the senior classes, if you are in A class, you are purely for the art, the B class is for the social science and the C class is for commercial students while the D class is for science class and E class is for the technical students. Our students chose their career right from SS1,” he said.
The VP said by separating the classrooms based on specific areas of specializations, students are able to focus more on their specific areas of interests, and capacity which in turn will lead to excellent performance.
“In academics, we are superb. Our students in various Nigerian universities lead with high CGPA. In the whole of Plateau State, this college offers the highest number of subjects, especially with the current entrepreneurship programmes which is why we now offer subjects like animal husbandry, Photography, salesmanship, fishery, garment making and others. Learning this at an early age makes them independent,” he further said.
However, our correspondent reports that despite the glowing academic records rolled out by the Vice Principal, the school faces challenges in the area of poor enrolment which affects revenue used in paying teachers.
“It is a well-known fact that every institution has its own peculiar challenges. Over the years, we have been enrolling lots of students. At a point in time, we had over 1,000 students but the student populations started dropping. It has dropped to 300 now. Notwithstanding, we are still surviving,” the vice principal said.
He said the decrease in the enrolment of students had resulted in an income drop for the school and thereby affecting payment of salaries. “We don’t take grants from any quarter; everything is from the school fees. Now that the population of students has dropped, the income drops too but in spite of that, the staff strength still remains,” he said.
He said another major challenge faced by the school is in the area of maintaining the old, dilapidated structures most of which were with mould blocks. Mr Dakrom, however, said despite the condition of some of the structures, the school management often tries to maintain them. “The old students are not left behind too, they have intervened in several ways, such as the renovation of some hostels. Currently, they are working on some of the classes and the 1980 set are currently renovating the assembly hall.” He said one of the old students, Prof. Mary Lar, the wife of the former Governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lar, recently fenced the girls’ hostels.
The National President of Gindiri Old College Students Association (GICOSA), Luka Tegan, told Daily Trust Saturday that the school has produced many Nigerians who have held significant offices in the country.
“When it was converted to a secondary school, the school continued to maintain that particular massive production of educated Nigerians. Some of them are in the Navy, Army, and some are pilots. Some of them are administrators in many institutions. Some are professors,” he said.
While reliving his experiences as a student, he said: “The teachers, the cooks and the security were all committed. The motto for the school is ‘light and truth’ and so all staff believed that the services are unto God and would be rewarded. I passed here as a student and also taught for 16 years before I went somewhere else to work. I have retired but my heart is still in the school.” Tegan also said during his days as a student of the school, discipline, understanding and humanitarian services were at the peak.
According to the vice principal, legacies left behind which are being replicated in the school till date are numerous. “Spirituality, honesty, morality, among other teachings, are everyday inculcated in the students. Being a church property, we dwell in spirituality and the academics, we always try to inculcate morality in the students so that when they go into the society, they turn out unique based on the trainings they received,” he said.
The Sum-pyem, who is the paramount ruler of the Pyem people in Gindiri, Charles Mato Dakat, told our correspondent that the establishment of the school had attracted a lot of development to Gindiri. “The school has produced lots of pastors and teachers who come not only from here but other far places. When they opened the school, they needed workers and our people got employed. They also gave our children who were very brilliant scholarship to study in the school.
“Our people who were tailors were given contract to sew uniforms, supply of foods and meat were also given to our people, which in return boosted the economy of the area. They also taught us crop rotation and shifting cultivation. So, we have really benefited a lot from the school,” he added.
On his part, the District Heads of the community Alh. Tanko Adamu said setting up the school in the area had been a great achievement to all and sundry. He said apart from the school, the founder had established a healthcare centre for the community. “There are also lots of impacts for the immediate environment, our people are trained as workers,” the district head added.