To start with, what actually makes the college special?The Federal College of Education (Special) Oyo was established in 1977, which means we are now 38 years old. By 2017, we will be exactly 40 years old as an institution. We are currently celebrating our 16th Convocation ceremony. About the speciality in us, well, you know there are three types of colleges of education. You have the regular one; you have the technical – for the technical you always see ‘T’ attached, and for the special, it is ‘S’. And we are the only one in Sub-Saharan Africa, not just in Nigeria. The speciality in us means it is not just ordinary.The other colleges of education do the ordinary - that is, they go on to teach people. In our own case, apart from the fact that we can do what those other colleges can do, that is, teaching anybody that comes our way, we also have special skills to work with - to train and to teach those with disabilities.And those with disabilities could be in various forms. It could be visual impairment, hearing impairment, learning disability, orthopaedic, that is physical disability, it could be behavioural. We have rehabilitation too. In rehabilitation, apart from teaching them, we also welcome those who suffer secondary impairment, that is, somebody who has been seeing before but suddenly turns blind. Or somebody who was hearing before but suddenly becomes hearing handicapped.So, we welcome them and rehabilitate them so that they can fit into the society again and go about their normal duties. So, when you talk of these specialities, you see that in us. And not only that, the facilities we use are specialized. There is nothing that concerns other schools with Braille machines, for instance; or with a talking book and their computers are now in use. The ordinary schools don’t need all these. Apart from that, we have the audiology clinic where you have those who test the hearing level in order to determine the size of flaws and also determine where the person could benefit, even if minimally, from the use of hearing aids. We can make the deaf to hear and the dumb to talk here. How?We make use of what we call total communication. And these involve the use of sign language and also you talk along with it. By so doing, we teach them how to speech read. These things are not in the ordinary schools. If you get to our rehabilitation laboratory, you will see all sorts of handiworks for people to learn, to keep them busy, so that when they leave this place they have something tangible to do. In the ordinary place, they have begun to call it entrepreneurship, but it has ever been part of the programme here. They encourage people to grow and do something. So, that’s why we are special. In some other schools, they don’t have the need for child clinic.What are the major challenges confronting the college? Talking of the major challenges confronting the college, I will say misconception on the part of those outside. Some think that the college is a school for disabled people alone whereas it is not.And apart from that, some may say that even those who are normal, without disabilities, after graduation have nothing to do. Some also, because of that fear, may say ‘if I allow my child to go there, there could be a form of contamination’ which is not the case. So, you see these misconceptions are big problems to us. But thank God, the situation is getting better. At least, we now have more people coming to this place especially since we started degree programmes in affiliation with the University of Ibadan. We now see people struggling to come in. People are now getting more aware of what the college can do. And when we talk of this, we are not talking only of the regular NCE programmes. We also do professional Diploma in Education programme and also Advanced Certificate in Special Education. The professional Diploma in Education is a programme of the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria but which we run here. So, with all these, people are beginning to come in. It is also noticeable that those with HND, B.A or B.Sc who never trained as teachers have been coming for professional Diploma in Education here. And so, we have improvements but not as much as we have expected.And funding too is a problem. We are funded just like any other school whereas what we need to educate a person with disability will be like four times what it takes to educate the ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ person. So, when you look at this, it is a lot of problem.Could you list some of the departments or courses of study in the college?There are so many departments. We have over 30 departments or courses. Let me start from Special Education. We have that of Hearing Impairment; we have Visual Impairment; we have Physical Disability; we have Rehabilitation; we have Learning Disability; we have Intellectually Disabled; Intellectually Retarded; and some others. And in the Non-Special Education area, we have Agric, Home Economics, Business Education, Fine Arts in the School of Vocational and Technology Education.And of recent, we have applied to NCC for resuscitation, and they have come to assess our facilities, for the purpose of starting programmes in Technical Education like Electrical, Carpentry, Automobile, etc. In the School of Arts, we have Islamic Studies, Christian Religious Studies, Music, Economics, Geography. And in Science, we have Computer Science, Human and Kinetics, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Chemistry, Biology, etc. When you get to Language, we have Arabic, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, French.For the School of Education, we have Psychology, Guidance and Counselling, Curricula and Educational Technology, Adult and Non Formal, Primary, Early Childhood Education, Management, Foundation, etc. So, these are departments within. All these departments, apart from those in Special Education, are just like those departments in the regular institutions.What are the highlights of the on-going 16th convocation ceremony of the college?It has been very long since we had the last convocation ceremony. This one is therefore unique in the sense that it is designed to attract a large number of graduands, not less than 12,000 graduands from five academic sets.Another unique aspect is that this is the first graduation where we tend to have the induction of the graduands into the teaching profession by the Teachers Registration Council. It was not so before.The convocation lecture with the title “Redefining the Nigerian Educational System for Sustainable Peace and Security” is to be delivered by Professor Adebiyi Gregory Daramola, the vice chancellor of Federal University of Technology Akure. Wednesday, 25th March 2015 is the convocation ceremony proper where we expect the Honourable Minster of Education. He has promised to come and we are expecting him so that he can let the people know what the ministry is doing to further improve education and what government is actually doing to develop capacities.And there is going to be Fellowship Awards on three distinguished Nigerians who have added value to the society in one area of human endeavour or the other. They are Prince Ajibola Afonja; Alhaji A. A. Rano from Kano, and the matriarch of the Dantata dynasty. They are all leading lights and patriotic Nigerians whose lives are worthy of emulation.What feedback mechanism have you put in place to monitor the products of the college after graduation? And how are they fairing in the society?I will simply say we have the opportunity of meeting a few of them particularly through the Alumni Association. And thank God for the advancement in technology through Facebook and other social media. They now form groups that make us to be able to have linkages with some of the old graduands. Indeed, we try as much as possible to monitor them. For those of them we can trace, we link with them. And we have an association of the Alumni that is strong, which also assists us.
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