Comrade Zulu Ofoelue, whose full name is Mazi Obozuluike Ofoelue Nwangwu Ivere is the Registrar, African Thinkers Community of Inquiry College of Education, ATCOICOE, Enugu. A fiery humanist and activist, Ofoelue, is also the Chairman of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Enugu State Branch. CLO is Nigeria’s first and foremost human right organisation. In November 2013, he was elected General Secretary (National) of United Action for Democracy, Nigeria’s first and largest coalition of pro-democracy organisations. He is equally the Vice President of International Solidarity for Peace and Human Right Initiative. He is a creative writer, and was the General Secretary of Association of Nigerian Authors, Enugu State Branch for two terms.
In this interview with Jungle Journalist, the school administrator explains why he thinks ATCOICOE is better than other colleges of education in teaching teachers:
What are your visions for this school in your capacity as the registrar?
You would sometimes hear people say that the Registrar of any institution is the engine room of the institution. My vision for ATCOICOE therefore runs in tandem with the overall vision of the College itself. To do otherwise would mean to derail from the fundamental purpose for which the college was established by its founding fathers and to which the current administrators are divinely committed. This means therefore that a Registrar must master and be a Master in the core principles, values and visions of his institution. I was among the lucky direct disciples of Fada Stan Anih. I was among those who thoroughly understood his philosophies and accepted them absolutely. I was fortunate because I didn’t have to study his vision from a secondary point of view. I sat with him severally and we dialogued in our usual andragogical Community of Inquiry fashion. I read his literature with profundity and deliberated my readings with him. I would therefore say that I shared his visions. The implication of this is that the vision of the College is exactly same as my own visions for the College.
For the benefit of those who may not really know, the ATCOICOE handbook clearly states:
‘Our vision is specifically to craft a Teacher Education to engender the mastery of creative technological abilities and critical thinking skill which will manifest in the application of acquired strategic synergic competences in real life situation, especially as an academic facilitator in the classroom.
‘The ATCOI COE hopes to provide its students with a rare blend of quality intellectual development and a unique opportunity for self-discovery and self-actualization culminating in the acquisition and advancement of knowledge for the good of society.
‘Consequently the “raison de etre” of Our Vision is to facilitate the growth of the students in the mastery of critical, creative, caring, system and synergic thinking skills that will manifest in the ability to apply acquired knowledge to real life situations.’
It is most difficult to add or subtract any value from this vision. My objective therefore is to ensure the actualisation of this vision. We will expend every energy to ensure that every student that passes through the College is enriched with such creative and critical thinking skills as would be necessary in development of a leading human person in whatever sphere of life the person finds his/herself.
Can you say ATCOE is a better COE than other colleges of education? If yes, why do you think so?
One of the reasons we are different, and of course better is because we are working to foster the development of skills and ability of self-discovery, self-mastery and self-actualisation in every learner who passes through our College. We are working to ensure that our graduates are wholesomely and holistically educated. Our vision is to breed humans with enhanced skills in synergic democratic dialogue, centred around the values of critical, creative and caring thinking, as against the current stagnated, colonising, fossilised and dictatorial type of education we have in many other institutions and among pedagogues. Our ultimate vision is to breed responsible and reasonable human beings; humans who can think for themselves and use their thinking to contribute meaningfully to the wellbeing of the entire universe.
Our background is Philosophy for Children in a Community of Inquiry (P4C COI). P4C COI shows that students brought up in Learner Centred paradigms are independent learners and Higher Order Thinkers. They are trained to understand that there is no limit to the capacity of their brains and so their capacity for learning is limitless. We have done this severally and have no doubts in our hearts that Higher Order Thinkers are capable of advancement in all fields of studies. It is just the easiest and best approach to advancing and maintaining the highest academic standard in the 21st century world. We therefore intend to straighten the study of COIP4C among our staff and students.
In his work, Fada Stan had written, “Professor Mathew Lipmann and Ann Margaret Sharp have opened a new window in the corridor of human intellectual Horizon-Community of Inquiry Philosophy for Children (COIP4C). They have permitted me to draw aside the curtain in this window so that this new academic light might shine on the African part of the earth-planet. I am neither the light, nor the window, but just the person who draws aside the curtain from the window for the light to come.”
Now that Lipmann, Sharp and Anih are no longer with us, my vision is to see that this great epistemological light continues to shine even brighter, permeating and illuminating the deepest recesses of the Afrikan continent.
How would you rate the performance of the school’s Chief Executive Officer, Sir Chinedu Anih so far?
I must state here that we are blessed to have such a great and dynamic visionary who has perfectly succeeded Fada Anih. Sir Hon Chinedu Ani represents every leadership quality Fada Stan taught us. Within a short period of his leadership, this gentleman has greatly driven the ATCOICOE train far beyond our farthest points of imagination. His leadership ability and skills are actually phenomenal. He is a practical illustration of Synergism. His spirit of accommodation, tolerance and encouragement; his development visions makes it obvious that the Gods actually love ATCOICOE and want us to impart on a greater part of the world. Hon Ani’s leadership reassures us at every point in time that our mission as a College will surely be accomplished probably even to a greater level than we might have targeted. Also with the crop and high quality of academic staff in the College, especially those trained in COIP4C, led by the Provost Dr SE Igwe who had garnered great experiences and skills from his learning and association with Fada Stan from the very beginning, accomplishing our vision is a sure bet.
Let’s look at the technical aspects of your job. You people at ATCOE always talk about ‘andragogy’. Could you educate the general public on the true meaning of this word and why it’s important in teachers education?
One may define andragogy from different angles. But it simply refers to that type of education which respects and regards the humanness of a learner as a reasonable entity, as an active participant in the learning process and as a contributor to the basket of knowledge generated in the classroom. This is different from the pedagogical parlance which regards the learner as a passive receptor of knowables from an omniscient teacher who is expected to generate all information and impart them on the student. In the introductory note to the book, ‘Healing the Epistemic crisis in Nigerian Education’, Fada Stan wrote that it was unfortunate that education was being defined in today’s Nigeria as the transmission of acquired wisdom or knowledge to the recipients who do not know much or who do not know anything. The transmitter of knowledge called teacher, invites the recipient to come and drink from the teacher’s wisdom in order to know and be wise. This is what we describe as pedagogical education. It is undemocratic, slanted and skewed. Andragogical type of education is quite different. Andragogy is a self-development process utilizing personal experience and culminates in self-fulfilment. It is the type of education that can lead to the liberation of humans from congenital and environmental ignorance and that is what we call authentic education.
So African Thinkers Community of inquiry College of Education (ATCOICOE) advocates an education for democratic self-development. We believe that education should be man-centred. Education should take cognisance of the totality of the human person and the human person should be respected as human since the learner comes to the classroom with the totality of his experiences and knowledge to share as much as he acquires from his fellow learners including the teacher whom, being also a learner himself, becomes a facilitator of learning rather than a transmitter of knowables.
Our concept of Andragogy differs from the classical definition since we have integrated andragogy with the concept of Philosophy for Children. We have proven that children are capable of thinking for themselves and taking serious decisions on matters concerning their personal lives. We believe that children are capable of participating in adult thinking and leadership. We believe that children should be made to participate actively in the learning process rather than remaining passive recipient of learning from their teachers. We advocate that children and their teachers should be full partners in the learning process. We believe just as John Locke did, that andragogically oriented education should do everything to recognize children’s capacity to reason for themselves. This is the path to making education more meaningful, more authentic and more capable of contributing to national development and production of authentic human beings.
ATCOICOE is on a continuous growth path. Currently, we have in full operation the Schools of Languages; Arts and Social Sciences; Sciences; Adult, Non-formal and Special Educationand the School of Vocational and Technical Education. Being a train moving on the speed lane, we have been constantly increasing the number of courses offered in each of these schools and in the nearest time we will be making some additional. We are among the first institutions in Nigeria to gain the permission to run the Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) in Association with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN).
Is your school in any sort of relationship with the government, knowing the numerous contributions of the to the state and the country?
It was prodigious that Enugu State Governor Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi attended our 13thMatriculation ceremony. It marks a new route to furthering our working relationship with the state. ATCOICOE has been advocating for a change in the curriculum framework designed by government agencies so that it would reflect the visions laid down by the National Policy in Education, which includes the realisation of an education for reasonableness, learner centeredness capable of improving creativity and critical thinking. ATCOICOE has always pronounced its readiness to partner with government to achieve this objective. At different points, we had written to the Federal and most state governments including that of Enugu in espousing our peculiar programmes and have received resounding ovation. We have also participated in many conferences, seminars and workshops and have receive special attentions. It is therefore a great step that the governor visited us to see the great efforts being made by our College. It is a right step to actualising the tall visions of the government to attaining better quality of Education in Enugu State.
How would you rate the 2016 Professor Stan Anih Foundation(PROFSCA) memorial?
The Very Reverend Father Prof Stan Chinedu Anih (PROFSCA) Foundation is one of the very commendable exemplary projects of our dynamic leaders and Executive Director, Sir Hon Chinedu Ani. PROFSCA was set up in November 2014. Its objective was to celebrate, sustain, propagate and spread the works of the great icon, our founding President, the late Very Rev Fr Prof Stan Anih. Hon Chinedu Ani began by appointing a ten-man Board of Trustees, of which I am one, made up of eminent scholars and personalities most of whom had a close relationship with the late Prof Anih. He also appointed a Director General who runs the affairs of the organisation. The 2016 Fada Stan’s Remembrance Week was the second organised by PROFSCA Foundation. It gave us all another opportunity to deliberate and reflect on the works of the Sage. We intend to make the annual event the greatest of its kind in this part of the world. We want to make it a week to look forward to and to remember. But you would notice that in spite of the low key nature of the 2016 event, the interest and attention it attracted from friends and well-wishers was enormous. All these would be impossible if not for the leadership, attention and funding of the Chairman and founder of PROFSCA, Hon Chinedu Ani. We owe him all gratitude for ensuring that the memory and works of Fada Stan are sustained and propagated.
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