A crew from CCTV was at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in respect of the 3+2 Joint degree programme in engineering. In a brief chat with the Chinese media team, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Garba, explains the prospects of the programme and what Nigeria stands to benefit from it
CCTV: Sir, can you tell us the
origin of the 3+2 joint degree
Vice-Chancellor: It is a very short history. Not long ago, we were contacted by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Nigeria to consider having this collaboration to develop future railway infrastructure and to speed up professionals for a massive transportation investment being witnessed in Nigeria today in the railway, airport and roads development.
After the approach by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, we were chosen out of the federal universities that were considered from that point. The next was the visit by a team from Central South University (CSU), Changsha, China to look at who we are and where we are. And after they left, we never thought it would turn big. Not long after that, CCECC came to facilitate our return visit to Central South University, China which we did.
I went to China with a team of seven professors covering various aspects of the collaboration. We spent few days at the CCECC headquarters in Beijing and the Central South University, where we had a very long discussion and negotiations with the professors of School of Engineering, Central South University, Changsha after a tour of the entire school. Our visit enabled us to formulate the whole framework of the collaboration on the 3+2 joint degree programme.
Although it took us a long time to understand ourselves, it didn’t take us time to understand our respective strengths and academic capacity which, for instance, led to the understanding of having the joint degree programme. We then left Beijing back to Nigeria to prepare for the return visit of the professors again from Changsha to select potential students that are to benefit from this programme.
Shortly after that, the candidates chosen for the exercise were granted scholarships and admission to leave Nigeria for China South Central University, Changsha. It was after the first batch of the candidates had left for China that we received a massage from the CCECC granting additional scholarships for 12 postgraduate students to receive training at MSc and PhD levels.
The candidates were given admission for MSc and PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Transportation Engineering, Communication Engineering, Computer Science and Metallurgical Engineering. Indeed, this we described as a very big basket of support that we received from both CCECC and CSU, China.
CCTV: Was there any criterion used in
the selection of the students?
Vice-Chancellor: The foremost criterion is based on merit, which we used to select
students that have achieved beyond certain level that we consider to reflect merit. We, first of all, selected 90 students using such criteria and handed them over to the Chinese people to interview them. And in the end, 45 out of the 90 were chosen. So the students chosen are among the very top students in the University selected to go to China to complete their studies.
CCTV: What exactly will the University
Vice chancellor: Quite a lot! The whole education space in the world is looking towards this transportation education.
First, there is a clear comparative advantage because where they are going to is one of the few places in the world to have this kind of high level quality of education in those particular areas of engineering they have chosen. So, the fact to even get our students experience education outside Nigeria is a good achievement which is part of a remarkable education exposure they are going to get.
Secondly, the chosen courses are not taught in Nigeria, particularly railway and transportation engineering. I think they are going to the best school, particularly in this field that is giving them the best education and that added to the learning
environment in China to internationalize their knowledge and experience in the manner that they will do things differently from where they come from.
Thirdly, our engineering programmes in this country have been so challenging due to lack of our industrial experience. We produce engineers that have no experience in industry, because the industries are not there. When you go to a place where they
grow industry out of university, that indicates that our students, apart from gaining the classroom knowledge, they could also have attachment to the industry so by the time they finished the entire
programme they will be different kind of engineers.
This is because engineers that are trained in China are different in terms of their theory aspect and practical as you can see how Chinese technological engineering is accepted in the world.
CCTV: This is first of its kind. But what
were your plans before?
Vice-Chancellor: When you pioneer any programme like this, the tendency is to actually convince yourself before convincing others to believe that it can work; so it requires a lot of sacrifice, commitment and belief in ourselves with the fact that it is the best way to go.
We have the scholarship now, the students have gone, which is not a joke or a dream. It is a reality with the fact that it has never happened before; and this gives us more to believe in ourselves and to understand what is expected from us and what we are expected to do. It is our hope that much more will come out from the children and the country.
CCTV: Do you have anything to say to the
Vice-Chancellor We shall continue to say thank you to CCECC. When I went to Beijing headquarters a month ago, we paid a visit to the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria and sincerely thanked him because he has contributed and supported us in many ways to see to it that the collaboration has taken place.