The year 2023 marks a milestone that resonates not only in the annals of education but also in the heart of our nation. Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, is marking its sixtieth year of existence as a teacher education institution and it is a moment of reflection, pride, and recognition for everyone connected with the College. Founded in 1963 as the Advanced Teachers’ Training College, by the Government of Nigeria on the grounds of the Old Shell Camp, Owerri, the College has since expanded across the Orlu Road on the banks of the Nworie River. The College awards the National Certificate in Education (NCE) and, in affiliation with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed). The institution also awards the Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) in affiliation with the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN).
The establishment of the ATTC Owerri in 1963, just three years after Nigeria’s independence was a landmark in the annals of education in Nigeria, especially the South-East. As an institution solely disposed to research, teaching and training teachers for both the intermediate and basic education sectors, the College has in the past sixty years contributed immensely to the production of quality teachers in the country.
In 1973, via Edict No. 11 promulgated by Mr. Ukpabi Asika, the Administrator of the then East-Central State of Nigeria, the Teachers’ College became a College of Education and was named in honour of Alvan Ikoku, a teacher and educationist, founder of the first indigenously owned private secondary school in Nigeria – Aggrey Memorial Grammar School – and President of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) for many years.
The College started with 150 students and today, tens of thousands of students have passed through this ivory tower. Some of the notable alumni include Bishop Ngozi Durueke, Dame Comfort Obi, Senator Emma Anosike, Professor Chigozie Asiabaka, Professor Vitalis Ajumbe and Professor (Mrs.) Victoria Nwigwe, the first female student of the College.
From its inception in 1963, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education embraced the noble mission of producing skilled educators, capable of shaping young minds and driving societal progress. It served as a cradle for the growth and development of teachers who’ve gone on to impact lives across Nigeria and beyond. It remains at the forefront of innovation in teacher education and has continued to play a leading role in the development of new teaching methods and materials. The College fostered cultural exchange, championed innovation in pedagogy, and played a significant role in shaping educational policies that have guided our nation’s progress.
The College has also been a major source of inspiration for other Colleges of Education in Nigeria. It is literally and figuratively the ”primus inter pares,” first among equals in the College of Education system in Nigeria. Today, the College can boast of about 800 academic staff with more than 375 Ph.D. holders and over 300 Master’s degree holders who can compete favourably with those in the best institutions in the country and beyond.
Some of the astute educationists who have led the College include, Mr John Munonye, Professor Bennett Ukeje, Professor Ernest Emenyonu, Dr. Dan Onwukwe, Professor Ngozi Uwazurike, Professor Blessing Ijioma, Dr. Dan Anyanwu, and the current Chief Executive and second female Provost of the institution, Dr. (Mrs.) Stella Lemchi.
Dr. Stella Lemchi, who took over as the Provost of the College in July 2022 described her mandate as to “reposition and re-strengthen the College as the foremost Teacher Education Institution, that is a Centre of Excellence in teaching and learning, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and community service, and consolidate its claim as “primus inter pares.” True to her words, Dr. Lemchi’s hands-on approach and unique leadership style have led to improvement in staff morale and a re-focus on research and development. She has expanded the infrastructure, improved service delivery and vigorously pursued the restoration of the university status. Her proven integrity and prudent management of resources have endeared her to the entire Alvan community and the general public.
The remarkable attainment of the Diamond landmark cannot be complete without the commendable efforts of our amiable Governor, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma, CON. For the College, the recovery aspect of the 3R mantra of the Hope Uzodimma administration has hit home. His Excellency, in a bid to reposition the institution for the 21st century, displayed great political sagacity and unwavering commitment and resilience to recover the university status of the College, which for eight long years was “on hold.” No doubt, there can be no greater Diamond Jubilee gift to our dear institution than this much-expected upgrade, and for which history would write His Excellency’s name in gold and posterity would forever celebrate him.
In recognition of the efforts of His Excellency, the College community will tomorrow, Thursday, 31st August 2023 at the Grand Finale of the Diamond Jubilee celebration invest the Governor with the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education Diamond Award, a well-deserved one-of-its-kind award!
The investiture will cap a week of celebrations in the College with activities such as a football match between staff and students, a carnival, exhibitions, a thanksgiving service and a Jubilee Lecture. Other events lined up for the Jubilee week are the foundation laying ceremony of the College bakery and a tree-planting ceremony.
Another major highlight of the ceremony will be the unveiling of a documentary; an encapsulation of the impactful achievements of the current Provost of the institution, Dr. (Mrs.) Stella Ngozi Lemchi – a trailblazer, woman of substance, quintessential achiever, erudite scholar, ingenious administrator, prudent manager of men and resources who within one year in office has conspicuously taken the College to a higher pedestal.
It is with joy and happiness that the institution rolls out the drums to celebrate these sixty years of excellence.
Long Live Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education!
Long Live Alvan Ikoku Federal University of Education!
Long Live Imo State!
Long Live Nigeria!
Written by Diamond Jubilee Planning Committee