Dr. Rabi Jibrillah Muhammad is the first female Provost of the Federal College of Education (FCE), Kano. In this interview, she speaks on the challenges faced by colleges of education and the feat she has attained in her three years of stewardship in the college.
Can you briefly tell us about yourself?
My Name is Rabi Jibrillah Muhammad. I was born in Adamawa State in 1956. I attended Mubi Primary School in 1969. From there, I proceeded to Government Secondary School, Mubi, in 1974 where I obtained my West African School Certificate. I obtained my BA (Ed) Geography and M. Ed Instructional Technology from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, in 1979 and 1990 respectively. I got my PhD in Educational Technology from University of Ilorin in 2009. I have been with Federal College of Education (FCE), Kano, since 1982. I started as a graduate assistant and, presently, I am the Provost of the College.
As a female, how do you manage to handle the affairs of the college?
I don’t think being a Provost has a gender relationship. In fact, even if there is, we should expect women to perform better than their male counterparts by virtue of their training as home managers. So, my gender status has no negative effect, whatsoever, on my administration of the college. Rather, it makes it easier for me.
People are shunning the teaching profession. What do you think is responsible for that?
Initially, people ran away from teaching because it fetches very little money and there are no other ways of making money in the profession apart from one’s meager monthly salary. But these days, because of the high rate of unemployment, people are now taking up teaching as a profession and way of earning a living. But I don’t really know whether they are committed to the teaching or they are just taking it for the sake of being engaged. I think some people are taking it as their last resort because the incentive in the profession is not much.
What is the present situation of the college in terms of facilities and instructional materials?
I have achieved a lot of things within the span of my three years and six months as the Provost of this college. We witnessed development in many areas. For instance, I have constructed an indoor sport hall through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) intervention. We have constructed some structures in the school of languages, it is in phases. So far, we have completed three phases, while the fourth one is still ongoing.
We have also established three Information and Communication Technology (ICT) centres in the college. The project was jointly facilitated by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and a member of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Abdurrahman Kawu Sumaila. Sincerely, we have improved a lot. With the coming of TETFUND, we have solved the problem of classrooms in FCE, Kano. There is also a learning centre which we constructed.
So, sincerely speaking, the college is now up to standard, all our degree programmes have been accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC). We presented eight programmes for accreditation and all the programmes have scaled through the exercise. Six were fully accredited while two got an interim accreditation. The two failed because of lack of professors in the list of staff we have presented.
Inadequate funding is one of the problems bedeviling our higher institutions. Are you facing the same problem?
Of course, we are not exceptional. Funding is always a problem in managing an institution. An education institution is not a money generating agency. The little amount we used to receive from students during registration is already dedicated for certain things.
For instance, when we asked students to pay for ID card, we must provide ID card for them, also when we collect money for sports, they do participate in sports activities and, therefore, all the little charges we make are dedicated to certain items.
What about the issue of manpower, is that also another area of concern?
Our only problem here is that, this is a college of education; we don’t have autonomy to run degree programmes. Even though we have a degree programme at present, it is affiliated to ABU, Zaria. We trained our teachers up to PhD levels but the system doesn’t allow one to be a professor in a college of education. At the end of the day, most of the teachers we sponsored to PhD levels prefer to go to universities after acquiring the PhD, which is a big problem to us. So, if government can give us autonomy to run degree programmes on our own, then, the condition of service will be altered and staff in colleges of education may have the opportunity to grow to professorship, I believe that will encourage people to stay in the system.
With the stigma associated to teaching profession, do students still apply for admission into colleges of education?
Of course, they do because the vacancies in our universities are limited. Those who failed to secure admission into the universities will have to find an option. If you look at the UTME form now, there are provisions for three choices in the form. Students can choose to go to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. So, based on this, the students are now choosing college of education, maybe sometimes not as the preferred choice.
At the end of your tenure, what legacy do you want to leave behind?
After my tenure, I would not want to tell people how much I have achieved because by the time you go round the college, you will see a lot of things that will tell you that Dr. Rabi Jibrillah Muhammad was here as a Provost. For now, my hope is for this college to become a university before I finally exit as the provost.
What is your message to the students, especially the female?
My call is rather to the parents, especially here in the north, to allow their children to acquire Western education. Those who are already into it, they should strive hard and do better. A person’s gender is not a barrier of being on top of your career.
Some parents are reluctant to send their children to higher institutions because of moral decadence in the institutions. What could you say about this?
I think that will be only worrisome if the girl has a poor home upbringing. Any disciplined and well brought-up girl cannot misuse the opportunity of going to higher institution of learning. School is like a market, if people will go to the market, buy what they want and come back without learning any negative attitude from the market, I don’t think a school should be a place for them to learn. We should discourage people from thinking that higher institutions can corrupt the women.
What is required is for the students to remain upright, pay attention to their studies and aspire to be reasonable members of the society. And the lecturers should make sure that they serve as role models for the students to emulate them.
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