Ayodele Olajide Falase MB.BS (Ib.), MD(Ib.), FRCP(Lond), FWACP, FMCP, FAS, NNOM
Professor of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Consultant Cardiologist, University College Hospital, Ibadan
Let me begin by thanking the organisers of this event, especially my Head of Department, Dr. Ayo Arije and all my colleagues in the Department of Medicine for giving me a unique opportunity to deliver my valedictory address on the occasion of my retirement from the University after working for 35years. Valedictory addresses in my opinion are meant to review the past, point out mistakes that might have been made, provide advice to colleagues who are still in the employ of the University, and encourage them to keep the flag flying. In my own case, the send-off ceremonies are in two parts. Yesterday, we had a stimulating scientific meeting and I thank all those who were able to join us at that meeting. I now welcome all of you to the final part of the send off programme, my valedictory lecture.
THE PAST AS A STUDENT
I came in contact with the University of Ibadan as a student in 1963 and, apart from the relatively brief period I spent in England for my postgraduate studies
(February 1970 – August 1971; January 1973 – December 1973), I have spent all my working life in this University (September 1974 – September 2009) and its Teaching Hospital (Resident doctor – August 1968 to August 1974 and Consultant – September 1974 to September 2009). I have therefore been associated with this University in one way or the other for more than 40 years. The University has more-or less become my life.
University education began in 1948 in Nigeria with the establishment of this University as a College of the University of London and within a short time the new institution gained world-wide recognition as a great citadel of learning with high academic standards. The young University gained its autonomy on the fifteenth anniversary of its foundation, becoming the University of Ibadan by an act of Parliament which was passed in December 1962. According to Professor Kenneth Dike, the Vice-Chancellor at the time, ‘On November 18 1963 (Foundation Day) the first Chancellor was installed and the University of Ibadan was born amidst ceremonies of great splendour’.
I became part of the University as a student in October 1963 and, as I wrote earlier, Professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike had by this time become the first Vice- Chancellor of an autonomous University of Ibadan. I will not dwell too much about all my experiences as a student of the University in this lecture. However I shall highlight from my own perspective what it meant to be a student of the then relatively young institution. I was notified of my admission by post about June 1963. The letter not only contained my letter of admission together with information about the University but also its location within the city of Ibadan and how to find my way to the campus. I was also informed beforehand that I would be staying in Independence Hall and I was given other instructions on what to do on arrival at the campus. With all these, there was no doubt in my mind at the time that I was coming to an institution where things were done in an orderly fashion.
Throughout my stay in the institution, we were well looked after in a nice, serene learning environment. University sessions commenced regularly in October and ended in June after the ‘almighty’ June examinations which were always held in the Trenchard Hall. Even those of us in the Clinical Students’ Hostel, as the Alexander Brown Hall was known at the time, were bused to the Trenchard Hall whenever we were to take our University examinations.
The sessions at the time were regular, there were no strikes, no cult activities and the infrastructural facilities were excellent. I could recall only once when there was a blackout and it lasted less than a minute. We were 80 in my class, a number considered too large at the time. Of these, 4 were foreigners, and they came from the United States of America, West Indies, India and Ghana. Among the teaching staff were many foreigners, largely from the United Kingdom, United States of America, Germany and India. All the students were comfortably accommodated on the campus.
We paid all our fees which included tuition fees (161 pound, 10 shillings and 6 pence) at the beginning of the session and, although majority of us came from poor homes, virtually all of us were on scholarships. We were fed by the University throughout our stay since our school fees included the cost of feeding.
The vacation period was three months, between July and September of each year, except for clinical students who had only one month’s vacation around the Christmas season. The extra time they spent on campus was reflected in the school fees they paid annually (261pounds, 10shillings and 6pence). All clinical students were given their 3-year schedule of clinical postings as soon as they passed the part 1 MB, BS examination. This programme was followed religiously throughout the 3years of clinical training without any alteration.
Although we were admitted into the MB, BS programme after passing our advanced level/University preliminary examination subjects with good grades in Physics, Chemistry and Zoology, we were made to spend an additional six months repeating Organic Chemistry, probably to help us with the Biochemistry course. We had to pass this course in Organic Chemistry to progress in our studies although none of us had any difficulty with the subject. Afterall, it was a repetition of what we had done at the advanced level and it was considerably less rigorous compared with what the regular chemistry students had to go through to earn their degree. Their programme was largely based on regular practical sessions most of which lasted 8-12hours.
We too had no problem with our practical lessons in Physiology, Biochemistry and other laboratory subjects throughout our training in the medical school. Six of us were allocated to a body for dissection in the Department of Anatomy and each student had a microscope to himself to work with during Histology and Pathology practicals.
In conclusion, we had a standard training to become doctors at the University of Ibadan and this training in my view was comparable to that obtainable at the world’s top Universities of the time. To some who might think that we were a pampered group, I would disagree and say that we attended a normal, standard University.