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Interrogating National Commission For Colleges of Education Under Prof Okwelle

By Adagher Tersoo Quality education has been globally acclaimed to be the reliable instrument for transformation and upgrade in the economics of nations. While teachers…

By Adagher Tersoo

Quality education has been globally acclaimed to be the reliable instrument for transformation and upgrade in the economics of nations. While teachers are the centre of every quality educational system. These thoughts bear striking parallelism to the fecundity of fresh ideas, vision and drives which professor Paulinus Okwelle the Executive Secretary of (NCCE) has brought to refashion and redefine the Teaching and Learning protocols in our colleges of education landscape.

In just two years, by dint of hard work, courage and clear minded focus, Okwelle has brought to the commission, and indeed, the entire education sub-sector what an average leader may not be able to accomplish in five years.

For those who have read about Victor- Marie Hugo, a French poet, novelist and essayist, who died more than two centuries ago, but still left us with some immortal and memorial thoughts before his demise in 1885. Hugo said that: “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come”.

This thoughts must have been the guiding light of the executive Secretary of NCCE, whose bold reforms at the commission from operational protocols to innovative teaching techniques, down to general administrative framework, all have taken a new paradigm shift, aimed at repositioning NCCE to a more responsive, purpose driven and agenda setting regulatory commission.

The commission under Prof. Okwelle,has emerged as a pivotal force in Nigerias’ educational landscape, making substantial contributions towards uplifting the quality of higher education in Nigeria, especially in the areas of high level policy formulation and teachers’ preparation institutions in general.

With the strategic initiatives and investment, NCCE has been instrumental in addressing crucial challenges, promoting research via collaboration with sister agencies and driving positive changes across Nigerian colleges of education.
Okwelle, worried by the reading skills deficiency phenomenon, especially at basic education level in the country, he conceptualized a robust and integrated learning concept know as Early Grade Reading (EGR) in to the teaching and learning protocol in the school system.

This he demonstrated in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, during the workshop organized for federal and state colleges of education lecturers to equip them with requisite knowledge on the effective delivery of the new curriculum in the teaching and learning procedure.

According to professor Okwelle the capacity building workshop will sharpen the skills-set of lecturers and educators in the implementation of (EGR). He underscored the critical role of reading in teaching and learning protocol in the Basic Education school system and early childhood education programme.

While in the area of ICT training for lecturers and educators, the executive Secretary has trained over 600 colleges of education lecturers on ICT cutting edge technology modules, aimed at meeting the digital skills-set to align with global best practices.

Unarguably the tempo and consistency of professor okwelle transformational agenda at NCCE is crystal clear, new thinking, courage and foresightedness and visionary approach which epitomize cutting edge innovative teaching and learning module as the hallmark in the teacher educator teaching protocol.

This new vista has engendered ease of teaching and learning among lecturers in the colleges of education sub sector.

Moreso, the paradigm shift has exposed lecturers to new teaching techniques that are in tandem with global best practices.

The conceptualization of these reforms has birthed standard teaching and learning procedures, thereby putting the commission shoulder-to- shoulder amongst its contemporaries.

The reality is that professor Paulinus Okwelle has brought new and bold reforms painstakingly tailored to accelerate and improve teaching and learning in our colleges of education.

The onus now lies with critical stakeholders and the international partners to avail all necessary support to the executive Secretary who has demonstrated leadership at NCCE with a new framework that has shown lining on the horizon in our education sub- sector.

His is one appointment that could fittingly be described as a square peg in a square hole! For, since he took charge as ES/CEO of the NCCE, the organisation has rapidly reclaimed its lost grounds and is now well focused on delivering on the mandate it was established to implement.

But beyond every success that Professor Okwelle has recorded since he was appointed the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer (ES/CEO) of NCCE two years ago, nothing compares with the peace,tranquillity and harmonious environment he has brought in to system.

Professor Paulinus Chijioke Okwelle was born in Ogbakiri in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State. He completed his Primary Education at State School Rumuoro Ogbakiri, Rivers State before proceeding to Akpor Grammar School, Ozuoba, in Obio Akpor local government area, Rivers State for his Secondary Education. Thereafter, he attended Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) in Technical Education (Electrical/Electronics Technology) with 2nd Class Upper Division and won both Wellesly A. Dede and Dr. S.J. Cookey prizes for the best graduating student in Technical Education in 1987

Professor Okwelle went further to obtain a Master of Science degree in Education (M.Ed.) in Industrial Technical Education from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1995 under a Federal Government scholarship. He also bagged a Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) in Electrical Engineering from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt in 2005. Professor Paulinus Chijioke Okwelle, received his doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in Technical Education from this unique Citadel of Learning, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State in 2011. He is a professionally certified teacher by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN).

On completion of his National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) with Bakolori Dam, Sokoto State in 1988, the same year Professor Okwelle began his teaching career as a Graduate Assistant with the former Rivers State College of Education, (now Ignatius Ajuru University of Education) from where he moved to Federal College of Education (Technical), Bichi, Kano State as lecturer III in 1989. He joined the services of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba, Delta State in 1991 as Lecturer II. In 1995, Prof. Okwelle moved to the oil/gas industry where he worked as an Electronic Measurement Specialist with Geo Services Nigeria Limited, a multi- national oil/gas servicing company and worked in various oil and gas locations both in Nigeria and internationally. In 2002, he returned to teaching as lecturer II at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, now Rivers State University and rose to the rank of a Professor of Industrial Technology Education in 2018.

While at Rivers State University, professor Okwelle served at various times as Departmental Coordinator, Center for Continuing Education (CCE), Faculty Postgraduate Studies Coordinator, Head of Department, and lastly Director, Institute of Education till 2021. He was an External Examiner to many academic institutions including Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku; Delta State University, Abraka, and External Examiner, Postgraduate Studies in Technical Education, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni, Rivers State. Professor Okwelle also was a Sabbatical and later Adjunct Professor at Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa State between 2018 and 2021.

Professor Okwelle has over 100 locally and internationally recognized academic publications to his credit. He has attended many local and International conferences and workshops where he presented papers, keynote addresses and lead papers on many occasions. Professor Okwelle also has supervised many Masters and Ph.D. dissertations and theses.

Professor Okwelle, is an active member of many professional bodies namely; International Vocational Education and Training Association (IVETA),Technical Education Practitioners Association of Nigeria [TEPAN] (formerly, Nigerian Association of Teachers of Technology [NATT]), Association of Vocational and Technical Educators of Nigeria [AVTEN], (formerly, Nigerian Vocational Association [NVA]), and Curriculum Organization of Nigeria (CON). He is a proud inductee of the prestigious Nigerian Academy of Education (MNAE) and Fellow, Association of Business Educators in Nigeria (FABEN).

Prof Okwelle has also served as Editor-In-Chief as well as a member of Editorial Board of different recognized learned Journals such as; Vocational & Technology Education Journal, Journal of Niger Delta Studies, Rivers State University Journal of Education, Journal of Educational Benchmark, IIARD Journal of Education and Evaluation among numerous others.

Professor Okwelle has won several awards in recognition of his contributions to the growth and development of Vocational and Technology education in particular, and the Education sector in general in Nigeria, just to mention a few;

(a) Merit Award of Excellence for the Uncommon Contributions to Mass Literacy and Non-Formal Education Delivery in Nigeria 2022; awarded by Non-Governmental Association for Literacy Support Services (NOGALSS)

(b) Lifetime Award in Scholarship 2022; awarded by Our Pride Magazine, Nigeria
In March 2021, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria appointed Professor Paulinus Chijioke Okwelle as the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Abuja, an agency that regulates all the Colleges of Education in Nigeria. Prof Okwelle is a devout Christian and happily married with children.

As a writer, Professor Paulinus Okwelle is truly a round peg in a round hole; when the then President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, head-hunted and appointed Prof. Paulinus Okwelle to take over the NCCE as Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer two years ago. Specifically, his appointment was made in march, 2021.

Tersoo, a critic and public affairs analyst, can be reached via [email protected]

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