Osun at 25: Counting Gains of Education

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As Osun State turns 25, YinkaKolawole examines some of the strides of the Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration in the education sector, which include school feeding, calisthenics displays and some developmental projects due for inauguration by President Muhammadu Buhari tomorrow

Osogbo, the capital of Osun State is said to be wearing a different look following the unprecedented level of infrastructural development. Apart from a new network of roads that now define the state capital, the number of schools that have sprung up has added to the change in the character of the city.

Governor Rauf Aregbesola had become controversial as a result of his belief and disposition on how the problems in the education sector of the country and the state should be confronted once and for all.

When he introduced the re-classification of schools into elementary, middle and high schools, and the adoption of a single school uniform for each level, his name was on the lips of Nigerians as the man that was introducing “strange” things into education.

“But we remained undaunted,” said SemiuOkanlawon, the Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy in the state. He explained that leaders who are not courageous enough to take painful but courageous
decisions for the future are not worthy of being called leaders.

“That was why the Aregbesola administration pursued with vigour those
reforms, convinced that in the fullness of time, the people of Osun and entire Nigerians would turn back to appreciate the “strange” educational reforms.”

Come September 1, President Muhammadu Buhari will inaugurate what the governor was quoted by one of his aides to have described as “the high school that only the president can open.”

The Osogbo Government High School, which Buhari is slated to unveil, is a three-in-one school. It is expected to accommodate 3,000 students each school with its own principal and the maintenance of the school by a facility manager.

Making up the state-of-the-art school will be 72 classrooms of 40 square meter each capable of sitting 49 students. It has six offices for study groups; it is equipped with six laboratories; 18 toilets for girls and 18 for boys; one science library; one arts library; facility manager’s office; a bookshop and a sick bay.

Late last year, the first government high school closest to the one to be opened was declared open for use by Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who the school was named after.

The Osogbo Government High School; Wole Soyinka Government School, Ejigbo; Ataoja School of Science, Osogbo; Unity/Fakunle Comprehensive Government High School; Osogbo Seventh Day Adventists, Ede; Ilesa Grammar School; Iwo High School, are some of those that have reached advanced stages of completion and are due for commissioning. The state is building a total of 20 of this category of
schools.

In addition to these are the 50 middle schools and 100 elementary schools expected to be delivered before the end of Aregbesola’s tenure. Many were not surprised when the high school in Ejigbo was named after Soyinka, as he chaired the two-day summit organisedby the Aregbesola administration in February 2011, three months after he assumed office.

“There is no policy of the current administration on education that is not a product of or resolution of that summit,” Aregbesola said in one of his interviews.
However, the Aregbesola administration has been criticized by a few who believed that attention should not be focused on infrastructure but on teacher welfare and training. One of his critics was an opposition politician, SegunAkinwusi.

“Aregbesola is not being accused of not building schools or building
mushroom schools. He is accused of building “too big” schools. To us that sounds complimentary.What that tells you is that we are not building for today only, but visionary enough to accommodate tomorrow
in our all-encompassing policies,”Okanlawonargued.

He explained that the Osun assault on decayed infrastructure and attention paid to innovative strategies to make learning moreinteresting and productive have been sources of emulation by other governments.
A major component of the Aregbesola’s handling of education is the re-awakening of the moribund school feeding programme, which had started under the government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

“We revived this programme and we have made it what is it today, a model for other states to copy,” said the Deputy Governor, Mrs. TitiLaoye-Tomori, who doubles as the Commissioner for Education.

The state prides itself as the model state that has given the federal government a template to follow in the implementation of the home grown school feeding programme. A book,‘Global Sourcebook on School Feeding: Lessons from 14 Countries’published by the Partnership for Child Development (PCD) highlighted the contribution of Osun on behalf of Nigeria in the book.

In June 2016, all the states in the south-west gathered in Osogboto understudy its implementation.

At the colorful event to mark the state’s 25th anniversary, former administrators of the state were full of praises for the Aregbesolaadministration as they gathered with other dignitaries to mark the epochal event.

Colonel TheophilusBamigboyeand Navy Capt. Anthony Udofia, who spoke on behalf of previous administrators of the state commended Aregbesolafor what they described as unprecedented developments witnessed under his administration.
This was just as Aregbesolastated that “worthy legacies” of previous leaders should be sustained while saluting the late Governor of the old Oyo State, Chief Bola Ige for introducing the idea of calisthenics during
his time as governor.

The two past administrators were pleased with the level of transformation and developmentin the state since they left as military governors.

“Osun is working; we are proud of Aregbesola for the wonderful work he is doing. This state will continue to progress; we want you to keep the flag flying.

“We were very impressed with the colourful calisthenics event the children displayed. This is wonderful, marvelous and fantastic. We say well done on behalf of all past executive governors of the state,” Bambgboye said.

Aregbesola while congratulating all on the 25th anniversary of the state, said the Osun School Calisthenics is not a frivolous brainwave that would be swept away by the tide of time.
He said the programme is well-conceived as part of the overall redesign and reorganisation of the education system in the state, adding that his administration views physical education with all seriousness, regarding formal education as incomplete without its physical development component.

The governoremphasised that the calisthenics programme is not only an out-of-school sports activity, but a lifestyle-change project for building a new generation of students who are physically fit, mentally sound and socially well-adjusted.

He said the programme is supported by practices in other lands and climes, adding that UNESCO regards physical education programmes as part of its crucial brief.

The calisthenics display to mark the Silver Jubilee of the state involved 4,000 pupils between the ages of nine and 14, drawn from 17 middle schools in Osogbo and Olorunda Local Government Areas.