Urges varsities to embrace technology
Says 14,307 graduates’ certificates ready for collection
Says TETFund remits N1bn to assist research as Centre of Excellence on Governance, Leadership
By Joseph Erunke – Abuja
Against the backdrop of frequent strikes by university lecturers thus disrupting academic calendars, the authorities of the University of Abuja, have developed a virtual classroom system.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Abuja, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, while disclosing the introduction of the new teaching method at a press conference, Wednesday, in Abuja, tasked the nation’s other universities to embrace the technology.
According to him, strikes by lecturers should not prevent universities from going ahead with academic activities, saying the world has moved beyond such a situation.
He explained that the institution developed an effective and trustworthy virtual teaching system for its students, to ensure the process of teaching and learning was not disrupted presently and in the future.
At the event meant to brief journalists of programmes and innovations his administration introduced despite the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU,Prof. Na’Allah said while the strike is going on, no fewer than 5,000 undergraduates have been receiving lectures through a virtual platform initiated by the university.
According to the VC, once the strike is over, all the academic staff of the institution would be mandated to teach at least one course online.
Prof. Na’Allah said even as the current strike was real and effective, universities must continue to run in full gear.
He said the university’s integrated portal which houses students’ details was used to develop a virtual classroom system where students had been receiving lectures since the strike began.
Hear him: “ASUU strike doesn’t mean schools activities shouldn’t continue. What we did was to look for adjunct staff who are also known as part-time staff. They are not members of ASUU and we carried them along while developing the platform.
“The fact is that the academic staff are on strike and they are negotiating with government and we are hopeful that the issues would be resolved soon but the university has continued to forge ahead and create great things and one of the things we have created is the virtual classroom system. I am very proud of it. If all students stay at home, we can teach all our courses virtually because we have that capacity.
“It will be wrong for anybody to criticize the schools for not shutting activities because we at the University are not dead.”
Noting that it was easy for the adjunct staff to teach and connect to students on the virtual classroom platform, he said about 5000 students have been receiving lectures regularly in different areas.
Prof. Na’Allah, who disclosed that a total of 14,307 certificates of people that graduated from the school were ready for collection, called on graduates of the university to come forward for them.
The certificates, he said, were for those who graduated from the school between 1994 and 2019.
He said with the new inspiration to make the university a world-class institution, there would be no backlog of certificates going forward.
The vice-chancellor also said the institution has received a research grant of N1 billion from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, to facilitate research that would improve public governance and leadership in Nigeria.
Prof. Na’Allah also noted that the railway and aeronautic engineering programs were still on course, as most of the equipment to facilitate the training has already been procured by the university.
He said besides the N1billion grant, the university has also taken delivery of another N5 billion from TETFund to facilitate the construction of a new Senate building, including other infrastructures.
Reiterating that a total of 14,307 certificates in different programmes from 1995 were ready for collection, he urged all graduates of the institution yet to collect their certificates to promptly do so.
He said contrary to insinuations, the university had all its programmes accredited by the National Universities Commission.
He said:”Last year, we presented 25 programmes for accreditation, and with exception of issues we have with Computer Science, all of them were giving full accreditation by the NUC. Whatever we develop, we do that with an eye for the future. We will ensure that issue of accreditation does not resurface again.”
While appealing to the affected graduates who for one reason or the other were unable to collect their certificates from over the years, he urged them to endeavour to make the sacrifices of coming from far and near to obtain their certificates.
Hear him:”This university has finished producing, signing and ready for collection, certificate of all those who have graduated from this university from 1994 up to 2019.
“If you have not collected your results please come to this university your certificates are ready. Forever and ever this will never happen again in this university that people graduate and certificates are not given. This is a leading university and only the best happens in UniAbuja.”
The VC who noted that the COVID-19 pandemic made the university to make use of its in-house skills and resources to develop a virtual classroom system, said over 5,000 of its students have been receiving virtual lectures with adjunct lecturers, as a means to respect the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
He spoke further on the virtual teaching system: “We have conducted several pilot studies from April/May this year and I am happy to announce that the UniAbuja virtual classroom system has piloted several courses taught mainly by our adjunct lecturers because we know that our respected academic staff are on strike and are having continued engagements with the federal government.
“Close to 5,000 students of our university are taking courses through our university of Abuja virtual classroom system and we are very proud of that.
“What it means is that if there is a need and if there is any reason that the entire students of this university have to go home or do anything, this university is ready and fully prepared to conduct all its courses virtually with everything that it takes.”
He added that a policy was being developed to ensure all academic staff teaches at least one or two courses virtually, once the strike was called off and normalcy returns to the university.
“We are in an electronic age and the more we run away from electronic technology, the closer we come to it, this is the experience the Coronavirus has taught us. UniAbuja virtual classroom system is strong, capable, efficient, effective and it’s interactive.”
Na’Allah who further disclosed that arrangements were in top gear to introduce three new faculties; faculties of Mass Communication, Pharmacy, and Environmental Science, added that some courses such as tourism and hospitality, agricultural engineering would also be introduced to further bring wealth to the country.
Furthermore, he said besides the N1billion grant received from TETFund to facilitate research on governance and leadership, another N5 billion was received from the Fund to facilitate more infrastructural development including the construction of a new Senate building, fencing of the institution amongst others.
“In the last one year, the university has received enormous grants from within Nigeria and internationally into millions of dollars in virtually all the faculties.
“The university itself has been supported by TETFund, we have received a grant of N5 billion which also goes into infrastructure and several additional money that goes into changing the face of our university.”