Opinion

THE TRUE STATE OF AFFAIRS OF TAI SOLARIN COLLEGE OF EDUCATION By ADEFULU, GOVERNING COUNCIL CHAIR

For many years, the Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE) has been the object of terrible misinformation. The circulation of deliberate falsehood, which was often promoted by mischievous members of staff of the College, has created a toxic image for the College. The case of cutting the nose to spite the face. The latest of such was the recent publication attributed to Eko Nicholas John, a faceless writer who claimed to be a member of unknown organisation called Campaign for Democratic and Workers Right which was full of tendentious lies, venom and bile. The Council of the College which has been working hard
with Management for a restoration of morale of staff and students within and a good name outside, has decided to set the records straight with this statement by putting issues in their proper perspectives.

The Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE) (formerly Ogun State College of Education) was established in 1978 as the first tertiary institution in Ogun State. The College is reputed to have produced over 80% of the teachers in Ogun and Lagos States
as at year 2000. This show how important the College has been to the educational development of Nigeria, particularly, the South West Region.

The checkered history of the College began in 2005, when it was upgraded to and became part of the Tai Solarin University of Education which took over all the assets of the College developed since 1978 when it was established. Three years later, the Ogun State Government
of Governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel found it necessary to re-establish the College as a separate institution once again and moved to Omu, in Odogbolu Local Government on a virgin land with no facilities whatsoever and no take-off grant.

This development led to the beginning of its travails. The move did not only lead to the College being stripped of all its assets but a combination of poor preparation, hurried
movement, lack of take-off grants and uncoordinated asset sharing left the College prostrate
and rudderless. The deployment of 474 staff without commensurate number of students threw
the College into confusion. The variety of issues confronting the College were, unfortunately, not attended by a robust political will. This left the College confused and stranded. By the end of the Otunba Gbenga Daniel’s administration, the staff of the College were owed nearly one year salary.

In effect, the College, bedevilled by multiple problems and poor government support to tackle fundamental problems, dwindling enrolment of students leading to poor Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), an over-bloated workforce, staff union extremism, inability to conduct accreditation exercise for eight years, inability to hold convocation ceremonies as at when due, irregular payment of staff salaries, inaccessible road network, high level of indiscipline among staff, irregular academic calendar caused by incessant sit at home strike adopted by staff to press home their demands, amongst others, was no more than a ship on
the way to wreckage. Unable to pay salaries as at when due, the College became the beehive
of instability and perennial agitation.

To worsen its problem, the period coincided with a dwindling public interest in the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) programmes, the institution’s main offering. This led to a poor enrolment of students. The College, therefore, became technically bankrupt and needed
a robust bailout plan by its owners to rethink its future.

In its present form and with a highly defective structure, the College can only continue to struggle. The figures are stark. The College has the odious reputation of being the only
tertiary institution out of 11 state-owned that is self-unsustainable. As at today, the annual
wage bill of the College is N1.2 billion while the subvention received from the State
Government is N511 million, probably the highest amongst contemporary tertiary institutions
in the State. The annual IGR of the College is a paltry N110 million. The above leaves a
deficit of over N689 million per annum. This is the crux of the problem of the College.

Unable to generate more revenue to fill the gap between government subvention and its need, the College is technically bankrupt. In view of the competing demands it faces, the
Government is not able to increase the monthly subvention to the College as each tertiary institution is expected to be ‘self-sustaining’.

The terrible structural problems of the College is best appreciated from the student-lecturer ratio. This ratio currently stand at 1:4 (1 lecturer to 4 students) whereas, the minimum stipulated by the regulatory agency is 1:30 (1 lecturer to 30 students). In fact, there are Departments with four students and 7 lecturers of which three are Chief Lecturers and four others are below this status. While all the students put together pay a total sum of
N160,000.00 as tuition per annum, the lecturers earn about N18 million naira per annum.

At the moment, the student population of the College is about 1400 (degree students inclusive) with 336 staff. This must be a world record! It is certainly not comparable with other sister institutions in Ogun State and does not accord with good management of any institution, public or private. For example, a state-owned Polytechnic has 12,000 students
with 212 staff; this shows a student-staff ratio of 1: 56 contrary to that of the College which is
in ratio 1: 4. The plain truth is that today, this College is saddled with teachers it doesn’t need
and cannot afford.

Yet, the staff unions which kept complaining about accumulated salary don’t want to hear of an inevitable staff rationalisation. It must be clear to all reasonable men that unless drastic measures are taken, the hydra headed problems bedevilling the College will remain unsolved. An untreated disease can only lead to death.

It is on record that the State Government under Senator Ibikunle Amosun instituted a Staff
Audit in 2016 and the report recommended downsizing of 138 staff due to redundancy, poor productivity, dwindling students’ enrolment, lack of discipline, poor financial strength of the College and poor student-staff ratio. Unfortunately, the report was never implemented. The immediate past government could not pay the debt he inherited, that government also refused to pay the salary of the staff for straight seventeen (17) months!

It is pertinent to state that through this difficult times, the College was not without its achievements. Prior to 2016, the College was unable to carry out accreditation exercise and
other developmental activities. When the regulatory Agency, the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), threatened to withdraw the operational license of the College, the current Management took the bull by the horn, conducted accreditation in 2017 with full accreditation of its 25 Academic programmes. This was financed from the IGR of the College.

In an effort to boost the IGR and standard of the College and increase student enrolment, the
current Management in 2018 sought and secured affiliation with the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye to run degree programmes in Education. This was approved by the
National Universities Commission (NUC) in 2018. The exercise was also financed entirely by the College.

Furthermore, and unrelenting in its bid to increase student enrolment, the College collaborated with the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana in the area of joint research, conferences, students and staff exchange. The University of Winnemba, as part of the
collaborative efforts, came to the College between 28th and 30th October, 2018 to organize a workshop on Research Winning Proposal for staff and same was financed from the IGR of the College.

While the 2016 Staff Audit Report was not implemented, the staff agitation for payment of
salary arrears continued unabated thereby disrupting the academic progress of the College. To arrest this trend, the new administration of Governor Prince Dapo Abiodun MFR swiftly setup another Visitation Panel under the Chairmanship of Professor Kamaldeen Balogun. The panel recommended, amongst others, the full and immediate implementation of the Staff Audit Report of 2016 to lessen the financial burden of the College, constitution of a Governing Council, payment of 3 months’ salary and proscription of illegal staff union, called Coalition of Tai Solarin College of Education Staff (COTAS) amongst others.

Following the report, it is instructive that the incumbent State Government rose to the occasion by constituting the Governing Council, made regular releases of subventions to the College, authorised the holding of a convocation programme that had not held since the relocation of the College to its present site at Omu-Ijebu in October, 2008.

It is also important to say that the constitution of the new Governing Council brought a new
lease of life to the College. Within a short period, the Council has:

(i) conducted a full staff Verification/Audit.
(ii) evolved a plan for the re-engineering and rebranding of the College.
(iii) made representation to the Government on bail-out plan to tackle, among others, the
naughty staff indebtedness which accumulated under the last two State
administrations.
(iv) set-up TASCE Investment Board to engage in business ventures to increase the IGR
of the College.
(v) set-up TASCE Educational Consultancy Unit to positively engage the intellectual
expertise of teachers of the College and earn revenue for them and the College.
(vi) been working on a strategy to develop the College 180 hectares of land of the College
with development partners.
(vii) gave the Management the approval to commence Distance Learning Study (DLS)
Programme.
(viii) approved another degree affiliation with University of Ibadan.
(ix) obtained from the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) an increase of
the admission quota for Degree Programmes from 300 to 1100
(x) to encourage academic freedom promptly lifted the ban on staff Union activities
which has been banned since 2015.
(xi) submitted a proposal to the State Government to, substantially, alter the character of
the College by expanding the curriculum and offerings to run various programmes in
education, management, science and technology.
The Council has pro actively made visitations to the regulatory Agencies to fast-track the
processes for the expansion of the offerings of the College in order to improve the IGR,
relevance and appeal of the College and set it on the part of sustainability. All these measures
can only work in an atmosphere of peace.

While the Council is working hard and making representations to the State Government on a
programme for settlement of the indebtedness to staff, this cannot be achieved in one swell
swoop. The present government, to be fair, has ensured that salaries have been paid as at
when due since this administration came into office.

With the substantial action already put in place by the Governing Council, it is certain that,
faithfully executed, within a couple of years, the College will return to the position of one of
the best Colleges of Education in Nigeria and a Centre of Excellence.

However, to realise this goal, the government, as the father of the institution, will need to
support the initiatives of Council and assist her by implementing other recommendations of
the 2016 Staff Audit and 2019 Visitation Panel reports and the latest audit carried out by
this Governing Council to relieve the College of unnecessary load. The staff must be
cooperative and constructive.

Happily, the State government has shown a great desire to lead this College to a part of rectitude. If previous administration had done the same, the College would not have been in the mess that it is in today.

It should also be stated that the insinuation being peddled in the offensive publication that the
College Management and the Governing Council were out to victimize and sack staff is mischievous and a figment of a wicked imagination. Rather, Council has been opened and fair in all its activities, showing total respect for due process and fair hearing. It has painstakingly examined all previous panel reports to ensure fairness and compliance with all extant laws
and regulations. The Council has made it clear that while it will not condone indiscipline, it will always openly accord everyone a fair hearing and justice. No well-behaved, dutiful and responsible member of staff has anything to fear from this Council.

Finally, we wish to urge the trouble-shooters, masquerading in one guise or the other, to allow peace and constructive engagement to reign in this College. We urge all staff to join hands with and align with the Council in its serious efforts at re-building the College and set it on the part of restitution.

We want to assure all concerned that we would be firm against
errant behaviour and mischief which are meant to destroy. We are all stakeholders in the future of this College. Council will continue to welcome constructive ideas and criticism. All those who truly want progress are enjoined to key into the re-engineering programmes put in place by the Council to restore the lost glory of the College.

We believe that there is no better time, other than now, to support this College, restore it to glory and move it to an enviable
heights. Council wishes to assure all stakeholders that we shall do our best to justify the confidence reposed to manage this College for a turnaround. We humbly urge all men of
goodwill to join hands with us in this worthy cause.

Many thanks.

Prince Adeyemi Adefulu MFR
Chairman, Governing Council
Tai Solarin College of Education

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