By: Ugochukwu Iwuji
Curriculum development is a complex way of building and expanding a course taught in an institution. The framework for curriculum expansion is broad and may include the various stages of analysis, building, implementation and evaluation. The administration of Engr. Dr. Michael Arimanwa has made considerable advancements in exponentially expanding the existing curricula in the institution. This is in fulfillment of the pledge he made in his vision document to expand the curriculum framework of the institution. The aim ultimately is geared towards offering Nigerian students vast opportunities in the education industry.
There are overwhelming advantages in providing candidates with a wide range of programmes on which to leverage. World over, the success of any educational administrator at the higher level lies in the number of new programmes added at a given period. It is a clear sign of growth in quantitative and qualitative terms. The process of resource development and actual accreditation is usually complex and taxing. It is therefore a rare accomplishment to expand a curriculum at a periodic basis.
Having passed out of the institution at the OND/HND levels, the Rector may have observed vital areas of need at the institution. He may have reckoned that the institution needed to be projected further with as many courses as possible. He knows that academic opportunities abound for students when the curriculum is expanded. He also knows that the society benefits more when there is adequate manpower to service the vast needs of the society.
It is unprecedented that the gentleman Rector met the number of Schools in the polytechnic at five and is leaving them at eight in five years. He has similarly increased the number of programmes run in the institution by the same margin. The latest of such schools created by his administration is the School of Health and Related Technology hosting the departments of Dispensing Opticianry and Pharmaceutical Technology. There are already actionable plans for resource visitation for Departments of Dental Technology and Nursing Technology. This has offered Nigerian students a broad spectrum of choices to make informed selections. The creation of the school has been greeted with loud applause from prospective students and students alike. For the first time, the polytechnic now has a sustainable policy direction in developing curriculum in varied medical and health related disciplines. When the memo for the establishment of the new school was published, I recall stumbling on a post where a prospective student profusely thanked the Management for taking the action as according to her, she is naturally disposed to a discipline in health science and technology. There are other students like this “Jambite” who are upbeat in realizing their dream of becoming health personnel in the polytechnic.
Away from health, the polytechnic has prioritized curriculum development in communication studies. It is particularly remarkable that the polytechnic blazed a trail in entire country in the area of Mass Communication where it became the first institution to unbundle the discipline in Nigeria. Resource visitations were made and they all came out successful. For this purpose, various fora were convoked at the instance of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to get further scholarly inputs on the new disciplines that emerged from Mass Communication. It is heartwarming that there are today five new programmes available for students coming for Mass Communication at the HND level. They are Broadcasting, Film & Multimedia and Public Relations. Others are Advertising and Print Journalism. This has further expanded epistemic boundaries in Nigerian educational institutions.
In the School of Engineering Technology, the administration successfully scaled through the complexities of Resource Visitation for the new Departments of Metallurgical & Material Engineering, Hydrology & Water Resources Management as well as Welding & Fabrication Engineering Technology. These are marketable courses that are in high demand in the job market. What’s more, now that the institution has acquired a second campus at Abaezi Egbema, it becomes reassuring that some of these new programmes will service the new Skill Acquisition Centre the polytechnic is establishing there. There are Oil Company clusters in the area that would need the institution to train their manpower, for instance, in Industrial Welding and Fabrication. There are youths all over the state – artisans – who may not necessarily need any O-level certification as a prerequisite to gain admission to be trained in one skill or the other.
A new course, Printing Technology, has also been added by the Arimanwa administration to further deepen the curriculum framework. The programme is listed in the School of Environmental Design Technology (SEDT). The printing curriculum offers a wide range of opportunities for prospective printers to acquire professional skills. The business of printing is a lucrative one all over the world and the polytechnic has leveraged on the high market demand in the field to train skilled printers that would service the printing needs of the country.
Similarly, the administration has added Animal Health & Production to its curriculum. The addition has since then become a boost to the newly created School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology. The School took off in grand style with a brand new complex fully furnished to taste. The course not only produces animal scientists, it also produces skilled farmers that would deploy best practices in enhancing food security. Apart from the demonstration farms available, the Arimanwa administration has established a modern fish farm estate that would be a demonstration farm for students to major in fishery. Commercial production of fish has become an enterprising industry owing to the health benefits of fish consumption as opposed to the colostrum in some varieties of meat.
It excites the mind that the administration has also added Metallurgical & Material Engineering to produce skilled workers in the science and engineering of metals, ceramics and polymers, who would also be useful in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, heat treatment and production of heavy equipment industries. The discipline will play vantage role in the Skill Acquisition Centre being established by the polytechnic. It bears stating that the Federal Polytechnic Nekede is one of the first set of Nigerian Polytechnics to respond to the call by NBTE for the establishment of large-scale skills acquisition centres that would produce hewn and hone technical minds in varied artisanship.
The new department of Hydrology and Water Resources Management added by the Arimanwa administration is a step in the right direction. It comes at a time our environment us vulnerable to water-related disasters at both national and sub-national levels. Essentially, the discipline will produce diplomates with requisite skills to manage the country’s water resources potentials, hence their usefulness in river basin development, water shed management, erosion and sedimentation control, urban drainage system management and environmental resources and sanitation management, among others.
Curriculum development is a continuum, and requires sound commitment on the part of leadership. The need to broaden the scope of an existing curriculum cannot be over-emphasized. It is only natural to consistently expand the frontiers of knowledge to take care of the ever-changing world of humanity. It is also a sign of institutional progress when curriculum expansion is prioritized. History will be quite fair to Engr. Dr. Michael Chidiebere Arimanwa, 8th substantive Rector, Federal Polytechnic Nekede who in his vision document articulated his vision to expand the existing curriculum in the polytechnic. Like every other promise in the vision booklet, the Rector has genuinely committed to realizing them. From 5 Schools to 8 Schools and from 43 departments to over 50 departments, Rector Arimanwa has performed excellently in the area of curriculum development.
To further underpin his knack with excellence on curriculum expansion, the Rector has ensured that the polytechnic does not lose any accreditation. All accreditation and resource visitation exercises under Rector Arimanwa have roundly been successful. The administration has been unwavering in its commitment at maintaining standards, a reason the polytechnic emerged as the best-performing polytechnic in Nigeria and the most-sought-after by JAMB candidates.
Dr. Ugochukwu Iwuji (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Owerri