Governor, Rauf Aregbesola
Yinka Kolawole highlights some of the efforts of Governor Rauf Aregbesola to revive education in Osun State
On assumption of office in November 2010 as Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola did not hide his displeasure about the poor quality of education in the state, as his first assignment was to organise an education summit to seek ways of revolutionising the sector.
The summit, which was presided over by Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka with other stakeholders in attendance, was aimed at making education a major contributor to the development of individuals and the society.
Determined to implement the recommendation of the summit, the governor has earmarked N30 billion for the building of 170 new model schools across the state to replace the dilapidated classrooms with state-of-the-art facilities that would enhance teaching and learning.
When completed 20 of the schools would serve as senior secondary schools and would conveniently accommodate about 3,000 students on the basis of 40 students per classroom. Each of these structure would cost N700 million. The school would also house an examination hall that would seat 1,500 students; as well as two e-libraries, one for sciences and the other for arts and social sciences.
The junior schools (primary four to junior secondary three) would have 50 schools and would accommodate 1,250 students; while the elementary schools (primary one to primary three), which would have 100 schools across the state, would accommodate 900 pupils.
To further stimulate students’ interest to learn, the government has concluded plans to introduce computer tablets, which it invented to reduce the burden of carrying many books to school. The tablet, designed in form of an iPod called ‘Opon Imo’, would contain the entire senior school syllabus, including Yoruba Language. Past questions of WAEC, NECO and JAMB examinations would also be included in the software design for the system. The innovation is expected to turn learning to play in schools and at home.
Students from the senior secondary schools selected for the pilot scheme would receive the computer tablets at no cost, as the government had invested about N2 billion in the project.
The state government also reintroduced the school feeding programme, which it tagged ‘O’MEAL’ to attract more students to public schools, the food was made more nutritious. The move occasioned a 25 per cent rise in primary schools’enrolment figure last session, even as more pupils are expected to enroll next session. To sustain the programme, the government pledged to commit N2 billion annually for its implementation.
Other reforms in the school system include change of school uniforms for uniformity in the schools, and would be distributed to the students free of charge.The state government also increased the running and examination grants to each secondary school student from N150 to N550. In primary schools, the fund was increased from between N150-550 per school to N400 per pupil (N100 as running grant and N300 as examination grant). These cost the government about N500 million annually.
The governor’s intervention was also felt in the state-owned tertiary institutions, as he reduced tuition fees at the polytechnic and college of technology from N42,000 to N25,000; while that of the state university was cut from N205,000 for Law and Medical students to N100,000; Science students currently pay N75,000 as against N155,000, while those in Social Science and Art Faculties had their fees reduced from N130,000 to N75,000.
The government’s annual subvention to the institutions are; the state Polytechnic, Iree, N80,600,000 annually; College of Technology, Esa-Oke, N47,889,000; while the two colleges of education at Ila-Orangun and Ilesa get N49,454,000 and N31,336,000 respectively.
To boost the morale of teachers, the government embarked on the training of teachers to meet the challenges of modern teaching techniques. It also took over the payment of lecturers’ salaries, thereby removing the burden from their respective institutions so that the N108 million saved annually could be used to develop the institutions.
These investments are aimed at achieving one of the governor’s six point integral action plan, to promote functional education, an education system that would not only drive development in the state, but would also be the bedrock of national development.