The Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical) Umunze, Anambra State, Dr Tessy Okoli, has been conferred with a Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) for her outstanding contribution in the development of technical, vocational education and training (TVET) in the country.
The award ceremony was the climax of the three-day international conference and homecoming organised recently by the Faculty of Vocational and Technical Education of the university in collaboration with an international partner, Lucubrate Norway.
The conference, which was declared open by the Vice Chancellor, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Professor Charles Arinze Igwe, was attended by TVET educators, heads of some Nigerian tertiary institutions, scholars from State University of New York, officials from Norwegian Directorate of Education and Training, representatives of the European Union, captains of industries, policy makers, industrialists, students, among others.
Along with Dr Okoli, the Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical) Asaba, Dr J.E Anene Okeakwu and the Acting Vice Chancellor, Adamawa State University, Professor Kaletapwa Farauta also bagged distinguished awards.
The Dean, Faculty of Vocational and Technical Education, Professor Emmanuel Osinem, said the award was in recognition of Okoli’s ‘giant strides and accomplishments in the management of vocational and technical education and overall development of the TVET sector in Nigeria’.
Prof Osinem explained that the Faculty of Vocational and Technical Education was the first in sub-Saharan African, founded in 1963 with the core mandate of preparing teachers for equipping youths with technical, vocational and entrepreneurship skills in schools.
“Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is central to the achievement of sustainable growth in industries because they need people with the right set of knowledge, skills and attitude to grow. However, the skills deficit in various industries as well as the economic situation in many African countries, including poverty and unemployment, suggests that the TVET institutions may not be delivering their mandate successfully,” he said.
While receiving the award, Dr Okoli, who studied her first and second degrees at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, commended the university for pioneering the establishment of the Faculty of Vocational and Technical Education in sub-Saharan Africa. She praised the lecturers of the university for diligence in teaching, noting that the graduates from the Faculty of Vocational and Technical Education are now TVET ambassadors in various places across the country and beyond.
The Provost described vocational education as a key driver of Nigerian economy, stressing that the international conference hosted by the university would strengthen the commitment of stakeholders to TVET activities in the country.
“In FCET Umunze, we are driving vocational education to equip our students with entrepreneurship skills. Our students are trained to acquire the required skills to become job creators, not job seekers. I am grateful to Prof Olaitan, and other professors from this faculty who groomed many of us and made us what we are today. I am particularly excited with the growing interest in vocational and technical education across tertiary institutions in the country,” she said.
Before her appointment as the 4th Substantive Provost, Dr Okoli served as a consultant on capacity building in the World Bank FADAMA 111 Project tagged Graduate Unemployment Youths Scheme (FADAMA GUYS) where 6000 youths were targeted for training in agricultural enterprise.
She had served the College in various capacities in the past 26 years, including the Dean, School of Agriculture & Home Economics Education, Co-ordinator, Continuing Education Programme (CEP), Co-ordinator Sandwich Programme, H.O.D. Agricultural Education, among others.
Okoli served as a Resource Person in Special Modular Agricultural Science Workshop for the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN). She is currently the National Secretary of Association of Women in Colleges of Education (WICE), a position she assumed since 2016, and also Chapter Chairman, Forum for African Women Educationalist of Nigeria (FAWEN).
An erudite scholar, Dr Okoli is a member of Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (WCCI) (International Chapter), World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (Nigeria Chapter), Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN), Certified Teacher, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, Nigeria Association of Teacher of Technology (NATT), Women in Colleges of Education (WICE), the Academic Forum (TAF), and several others.