By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said the state government has invested a staggering sum of N4.5 billion to shore up school enrolment in the last 11 months he returned as the state chief executive.
Fayemi lamented that Ekiti, which was ranked first on the school enrolment ladder, had slumped due to the N1,000 per term tax policy introduced by the administration of Mr. Ayodele Fayose.
He said the education policy forced some poor parents to keep their children of school age at home, thereby increasing the number of out-of-school children in the state.
Fayemi said this at the Holy Trinity Primary Schhol, Ilawe Ekiti on Monday while flagging off the enrolment of pupils for the 2019/2020 academic session.
The governor said in view of the fact that Ekiti ranked last among the six South-west states in school enrolment in 2018 propelled him to make several intervention moves to tackle the increasing out-of-school syndrome in the state.
Fayemi added that available statistics showed that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children globally and that no effort must be spared to reduce the scourge in the state.
“Ekiti was leading before I left in 2014 in school enrolment, but our enrolment has dropped drastically. Introduction of education tax and other anti-people policies introduced by the immediate past government have seriously eroded our gains in the education sector.
“We introduced many policies to boost school enrolment in our first term and we had 96 per cent being the highest in the country and South-west region.
“Upon assumption of office last year October, we immediately outlawed the payment of tax in public and private schools. We also paid a sum of N4.5 billion as 2016, 2017 and 2018 counterpart funds to UBEC, embark on rehabilitation of infrastructure, provision of furniture and instructional materials, introduce school feeding programme and payment of salary to teachers, among others, as part of the ways to increase school enrolment and retain other gains in education sector,” the governor said.
Fayemi said his government would not hesitate to enforce the Child’s Rights Law and UBEC Law to ensure that pupils have access to basic education, adding that government has also entered into special partnership with the World Bank to increase girl child education in Ekiti.
The governor also assured the people that the ongoing recruitment of teachers into primary schools will be transparent and merit based.
The Chairman of the Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Prof. Francesca Aladejana, said the government has procured 8,072 units of plastic pupils furniture, renovated 83 block of classrooms and constructed 3,375 metallic lockers, among others in the last 11 months.
Aladejana said SUBEB has also been engaging the parents and guardians across communities on the need to pay premium interest on education of the pupils.
“The state has also keyed into the school feeding programme of the federal government, while running grants that can make our school run effectively are being paid,” she said.