How Gregory University, South East foremost private varsity is rising to challenges of COVID-19

Friday Obande (Nigerian Pilot)

Obande observes the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on a private higher institution, Gregory University Uturu Abia State, from where he gathers details:

It is a well known fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a harbinger for redistribution of wealth and livelihood around the globe, as it poses negative effects on all human activities. Following the stampede of academic activities by the plague across the globe, most learning institutions; would definitely be facing challenges of various degrees.

Nigeria is not an exception, mostly within the private sector and the education sector in particular which has been on pause for the past few months, as a result of the corona chronicle. Despite the ravage caused on the education sector, leading to closure of schools from the effect of the disease, Chancellor, Gregory University Uturu Abia State, Dr. Gregory Ikechukwu Ibe remains confident that the institution would overcome the negative impacts of the pandemic, and has also expressed optimism over the achievements the institution has recorded so far, and the strategies already put in place to combat the pandemic, both within and the institution.

Speaking on COVID-19, he explained that the school is currently carrying out disinfectant scheme to combat the coronavirus, adding that “In the sciences, last year, we launched the alternative medicine, so far as the pharmaceutical college is concerned and we deepened the knowledge of alternative medicine by producing three types of drugs that are currently on trial by NAFDAC to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Then also in the biological sciences and biochemistry departments, all the researchers are busy at work as I speak to you, helping to develop for diseases like Sickle Cell Aemia and to help carry out all the research work on all the products that people are submitting on the fight against the Coronavirus as it stands now and we are busy trying to see how we can introduce immune boosters into the country,” he assured.

In the area of safety guidelines, he hinted that the school is reshaping and relocating entrances of the university and preparing to safeguard our students, staff, management and visitors. Ibe also explained that a new gate has been built by the school to serve as an initial stop to the school and this stop has both security stop and waiting bay before you get to the nurse bay, which have toilet to contain people who are pressed.

“The nurses will first test everyone coming in before allowed to walk into the main gate of the university which is about 500 meters away and go through the screening process, a disinfectant boot kept there.

“This is to simply ensure that there is no close contact between the first and second gate which we are building to accommodate any form of contact or spread of the Coronavirus .

“We want to make sure that the chief Medical Director of the university assures all in comers into the university that nobody can contact the Coronavirus in our institution and that everybody coming into the school will feel safe to go round the campus premises freely,” he explained.

Another policy which is currently in place by the school’s management is the plan to make sure that nobody goes out of the school without the proper formalities and enabling laws are currently being laid down to that effect.

On the achievements recorded of the institution so far, Dr. Ibe stated that, it has recorded tremendous achievements over the years. He made mention of a students in the engineering department, who has just produced a fueless generator which is just one of five other achievements that will be launched in the next couple of weeks. The chancellor again, gave details of the blue print by the school.

He said the school has in the past six years, been the first University in Nigeria to change the building methods by producing decking plates that you can use to build your house which helps save the cost of building by saving the cost of decking your building by over 45-50% which the school pioneered in the country and many people are relying on that. He also said the school’s engineering department has started the manufacturing of crank shafts with machines that are already available at the department.

Also, the chancellor made mention of the milestone the institution has attained in Agricultural. According to him, day old chicks are being put in the school farm which has about 250, 000-300,000 bird capacity chicken farm and then, in addition “we have started running the palm oil and cassava plants, making sure that the students have the enthusiasm for entrepreneurship agriculture which is a value added advantage to the nation and the scholars will definitely be encouraged to have these skills to support subsistent and national livelihood,” added Ibe.

Other achievements he mentioned include; pioneering several projects under Environmental Studies where the opened the Green Energy Centre which is called West African Green Initiative which he said will boost the conferences that will be coming up under the college of Environmental Studies across West Africa.

As for the attendant challenges faced by the institution, Dr. Ibe agreed that, “there is scarcely any school proprietor or owner of any establishment that will say there are no challenges being encountered but it depends on the level of preparedness of the individual. In his analogy, the challenges are also as numerous as their solutions are.

He however added that; “As soon as the issue of this pandemic came in and accompanied by the lockdown, we were lucky to had both taken and concluded our first semester examinations and entered into the second semester; so it was easy for us to cope because we had closed the school for first semester vacation and expecting the students to come back in March to commence full classes.

The chancellor gave the assurance that Gregory University has put innovations in place to boost the learning environment. Mr. Ibe then explained that as an entrepreneurial based university, all the productive activities are on in the institution.

“What we encourage is as a matter of fact, I the chancellor would undergo my entrepreneurship class and further go into the exercises until the student has obtained two additional skills before the student leaves the university, to get more practically oriented.

He also told Nigerian Pilot that the school has over 700 staff comprising academic and nonacademic, and about 1, 400, students, including; the Post-Graduates school, with about 10 colleges and about 58 to 60 courses including the D-Pharm, which is Pharmaceutical College, Medical Sciences, Allied Medical, that cover other sub-disciplines such as; Optometry, Radiology, Medical Laboratory Science, Physiotherapy, Physiology, Aatomy, which are all studied in the university and in the natural Sciences, we have; Microbiology, Human and in Applied Biology, Physics, Chemistry, we are also endowed.

“The general idea is to be more Science based than Arts and Humanities but that notwithstanding, we still run those courses to create opportunities for students to succeed in life by attending our university,” he noted.

“We launched the alternative medicine, so far as the pharmaceutical college is concerned and we deepened the knowledge of alternative medicine by producing three types of drugs that are currently on trial by NAFDAC to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

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