Prof. George Elambo Nkeng, Director of the National Advanced School of Public Works (ENSTP) Yaounde, talks on the recent changes in the institution.
President Paul Biya on October 26, 2016 signed a series of decrees reorganising some public institutions in the country. One of them was the National Advanced School of Public Works. What are the innovations brought in by the decree?
The National Advanced School of Public Works now becomes an institution of higher learning of university level with a particular status. It has a judicial personality and financial autonomy. As far as training is concern, we have a wider scope of training. We can now train engineers of all the levels including Bachelors, Masters and PhD. We are under the technical supervision of the Ministry of Public Works as it has always been and Academic supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education.
We have a wide range of programmes and there has been some addition like Architecture and Environmental Engineering. Before, we had a mission to train Civil Engineers, Rural Engineer, Town Planners and Land Surveyors. We still maintain those disciplines and of course the specialised engineering programmes like Geo-techniques structures, Hydraulics and Transport. We now have a Board of Directors which will be able to supervise the running of the Institution.
We think that the aspect of autonomy of the institution will be able to give a good orientation and a wide scope so that we can expand as the needs arise. Generally, the institution is aligned to the Bachelors-Masters-Doctorate system which is the orientation now for any university institution. Globally, that represents the National Advanced School of Public Works after the October 26 presidential decree.
When do we expect to see the implementation of the new status?
Well, the decree is out and hierarchy knows that it is immediate. The staff, students and other stakeholders are looking forward to the provisions of this decree to be put in place. I think that it is something immediate and we are looking forward to hierarchy to do that. The decree came at the most appropriate moment.
The staff and students are indeed pleased with the Head of State for the decree and we are looking forward to training the best engineers to prepare the country for emergence by 2035.
Article 21 of the Decree stipulates that the institution should tailor training to the BMP system. Do you have the capacity to do that?
Yes we do have the capacity for that. We had foreseen and we were looking forward for our system being aligned to BMP programme. Earlier, we were training engineers at the National Advanced School of Public Works at the level of BAC or GCE Advanced Level plus three years what we call “Engineer de Travaux” and we had partnership with the University of Padova in Italy to modify our programmes to train engineers with BAC or GCE Advanced Level plus Five years which is an equivalent to Masters in Engineering.
So we had foreseen the possibility for us to move to this level for which we had started. So we are reinforcing what we earlier started so now we can only move to a higher level to that of a Doctorate.
The School is placed under the tutelage of three different ministries, Public Works, Higher Education and Finance for technical, Academic and Financial supervision respectively. Would there not be a conflict of interest in the management of the institution?
I don’t see any conflict of interest because even prior to this reorganisation, our institution being public works institution, technical supervision has always been the Ministry of Public Works and being an academic institution and awarding diplomas, the Ministry of Higher Education has always been involved and of course being a State institution that receives subvention, the Ministry of Finance has always been involved.
This decree has just formalised the participation of each of the three ministries in the running of the institution. It is common practice in public institutions in our country that the ministry of Finance and other technical ministries are all involved in running the institutions in synergy to get it going.
What is the place of the Annex of National Advanced School of Public Work in Buea as far as the reorganisation is concerned?
The National Advanced School of Public Works before the decree as you rightly mentioned has an Annex in Buea and we have two centres of vocational training; one in Garoua and another in Akonolinga. But then the new National Advanced School of Public Works, Article 2 gives the provision for the creation of specialised centres for training and research.
The two will be considered as specialised centres for vocational training and the Annex in Buea will be a specialised training institution for technicians. They are part of the family and we are one institution. There is no special text for them to be independent.