The Management of Federal Polytechnic, Ekowe, Bayelsa says the institution has taken Oil and Gas tertiary education to the creeks of Niger Delta in spite of its difficult terrain.
The Rector of the institution, Dr Seiyaboh Idah, speaking through his Executive Assistant, Mr Alagba Ebiye, said this in an interview with newsmen in Yenagoa.
Idah said the Polytechnic sited at Ekowe, a coastal settlement by the bank of Nun River in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, could only be assessed by passenger boats.
According to him, the institution is not however, deterred by the challenges of its terrain.
The rector observed that the school had ensured that boats were made available to cushion the high cost of marine transportation between Ekowe and Yenagoa for staff and students.
He said that the school in the past few years witnessed the acceptance of its graduates for jobs and internship positions by International Oil Companies and Oil Services companies operating in the neighbourhood.
According to him, efforts of management of the institution to provide access to Oil and Gas education to oil communities led to the rise in students’ population from 38 in 2016 to over 4,000 in 2019.
He said that the institution had also added Civil, Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical and Petroleum Engineering to its list of courses within the period in addition to expansion of facilities to accommodate the growth.
He said that but for the COVID-19 pandemic which compelled tertiary institutions to suspend academic activities, the school had concluded plans to admit over 1,000 students in 2020 to grow the student population to over 5000.
He said that in spite daunting challenges facing the polytechnic, the management and governing council had expanded the capacity of the institution from mere three courses in 2016 to 29 in 2020.
He said that the institution which lost interim accreditation for the three courses had met the accreditation criteria for its 29 courses when the accreditation team from the National Board for Technical Education visited for assessment.
He said that the present management had reversed the status of the institution with the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFund) which had blacklisted it from receiving funding.
“When we came on board in 2016, we met a lot of daunting challenges and with the support of the governing council, the management resolved to tackle the challenges and reposition the polytechnic.
“We have moved from the blacklist by TETFund and today more than 18 lecturers are benefitting from the fund’s sponsorship in publishing their books and more are billed to benefit.
“Our target is to make the school appealing to attract more students from Bayelsa as available records show that due to the previous state of the institution, parents prefer to send their children to school in neighbouring states.
“We have made some modest efforts and completed a couple of infrastructures and buildings for six engineering courses, these projects are meant to increase the capacity of the polytechnic and they stand there to speak for us.
“For instance, we have up to 5,000 students of Bayelsa origin currently studying at Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro and from what we have put in place, we are reversing the trend.
“We are currently collaborating with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to accredit us as a centre of excellence for fabrication and that will be an added advantage for the oil industry,” he said.
He said that there was need for stakeholders in the education sector and the host community to support efforts of the institution to expand existing facilities, especially accommodation for students