Kemi Olaitan highlights some of the measures put in place by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to address the declining standard of education in the state
For some years now, stakeholders in the Oyo State education sector have continued to lament the free fall of the system such that the state has become a laughing stock among states not only in the South- west Region, but the country as a whole. THISDAY checks revealed that the state was the 26th in the last West African Examinations Council (WAEC) examinations.
However a new sheriff may have come into the state to turn things around and ensure that it takes its rightful position among the states. Since his assumption of office on May 29, 2019, the body language of Governor Seyi Makinde has shown that he is determined to do more than what his predecessors did in the education sector in the pace setter state.
For someone who had passed through the tough phase of poverty while attending schools, one of the policy statements he made in his inauguration speech was the abolition of the N3,000 per year paid by students in public schools in the state. From that day, the governor has not turned back to issue policies to fix the education sector.
Recently, it was the kick-off of free distribution of customised textbooks and exercise books to students. Speaking at the event held at the Bishop Philip Academy, Ibadan (his alma mater), Makinde said his administration would take education to a greater height and do everything humanly possible to restore the glory of free education in the state. He added that his vision of the education sector in the first year of his administration is to move the state from the present 26th position in WAEC examinations to at least 16th position among 36 states, charging all stakeholders to support the government in its bid to reposition the state education sector.
“We are determined to fix the education sector because I know for a fact that I am in this position that God has destined me to be because of the education that I received here. My time here laid the foundation for my future, so it is the same for the students here today and I pray that all of you will get to your destinations and you will fulfil your potential.”
The governor maintained that education remains crucial to the success of his administration, urging the students to take their education seriously. “Our students here, you should know that I was once like you. I spent five years here and wore the same uniform that you have on today, if I can go on to become the governor of Oyo State, I make bold to say that you have among you future president of Nigeria. Let me reiterate that we are all working together for a greater Oyo State and education will play a crucial role in helping our administration achieve its goal.
“At our executive retreat recently, I made it clear that our vision for Oyo State included ensuring that the learners get value for their time in the classrooms; this is the only way we can get many children into the classroom. All the stakeholders gathered here today have a role to play in making this vision a reality. From the commissioner for education, science and technology to directors of the state Ministry of Education, zonal and local inspectors of education, school administrators, principals of public secondary schools, the staff of the school, students and also our parents, we must all look together in one direction and that is the only way we can be sure that these children’s future is secured and by extension our own future.”
Makinde added that as part of his administration’s drive to reposition the education sector, 40 schools have been renovated across the state, while 60 others are undergoing renovation. “I am happy that the students in 40 state-owned schools across the state will be resuming into renovated structures, as renovations are also on-going in 60 other schools. These are part of the first tranche of 100 renovated schools across the state.
We are doing all we can to ensure that our children have physical and mental resources to enjoy their time in school as they acquire knowledge for a better tomorrow. What we are giving today, the textbooks and notebooks are just a drop in the ocean of needs but we also know that it is the tiny drops like this that create a huge ocean.
“The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology must put an accountability system in place vis-a-viz the distribution of these materials, it will be against the principle of our administration for any principal or teacher to make any of learner pay for these materials. I didn’t pay for them when I was in secondary school here.”
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Dahud Sangodoyin said the provision of textbooks in subjects being offered at junior and senior secondary schools would go a long way to ensure quality education by easing the burden of academic activities on students, teachers and parents.
He added that the Makinde administration values education and has “decided to be at the forefront of improving quality education and aspiring to build a developed Oyo State through proper planning and adequate funding for educational activities.”
The commissioner stated that there would be more policies targeted at helping the school system, adding that the governor “is solidly interested in the development of education.”
Also, as part of efforts to change the narrative in the sector, Makinde inaugurated block of 20 classrooms at the Baptist Secondary School, Oyo, to mark his 100 days in office. While speaking at the event, he said his administration would remain committed to ensuring quality and free basic education for all in the state.
“I want to assure you that our government will continue to influence and implement good policies that will bring total transformation to the state. With the support of all, we shall record unprecedented achievements and thus leaving our footprints in the sand of time.”
Makinde stated that his administration will not relent in terms of embarking on projects that will provide conducive environment for students in the state and enable them to explore the natural and social environments.
“It is worthy to mention that the present administration is not oblivious of the fact that childhood is filled with natural wonders and curiosity and that the learning environment must reflect a classroom and outdoor space that inspire a sense of wanting to investigate and explore. This was part of what necessitated the project like this, which will enable our children to explore both their natural and social environments.”
The governor therefore called for stakeholder engagement and partnership in developing education infrastructure in the state, urging them to support the government in its bid to develop infrastructure in public schools and eradicate illiteracy in the state. “It is very important to reiterate the fact that the major responsibility of the government is to ensure that quality and free basic education is provided for school-age children, as they are the leaders of tomorrow.
It is also pertinent to remind everyone that an idle hand is the devil’s workshop, which implies that if these children’s welfare is not considered, they may eventually turn out to become threats to the peace and security of our society.”
The Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Dr.Nureni Adeniran commended the governor for resuscitating the ailing standard of education in the state by cancelling the N3,000 fees paid by students.
“Without exaggeration, the present government is more committed to the education of her citizenry as the governor has committed minimum of 10 per cent of the state budget to education. This action is in tandem with the view of the great sage, Nelson Mandela who posits that education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world. Permit me to seize this opportunity to tell this gathering that the business of education is business of all. All of us have a duty to perform in ensuring that all our children of school age are in school for development of our state and country,” he said.
Adeniran also charged the school community, pupils, teachers, school-based management committee and schools’ governing boards on the use and maintenance of the building and facilities in the school, while thanking the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) for providing the matching grants for the state.
Other efforts so far initiated in the education sector by the Makinde administration include the promise to jerk up budgetary allocation to the sector to 12 per cent from 2020 from the present paltry three per cent. There was also approval of N60 million bursary for Oyo State Law students with each of the 120 indigenes receiving N500,000. The last time Oyo indigenes in the Law School received a bursary of N100,000 was in 2012, seven years ago.
Makinde, who gave the approval for the huge sum to cater for the 2019/2010 backlog session of the state indigenes in the Nigerian Law School, while receiving a delegation of the students led by
Mr. Olaniyi Ogunlade in his office urged them to persevere in the face of challenges.
He said his decision was aimed at assisting the students to achieve greatness and encourage them while urging them to ensure that they return home to make contributions to the state after their studies.
He maintained that the state has by the gesture on the bursary award, made an investment on the Law School students and would love to make returns, advising them not to be carried away by the allure of Lagos and other cities.
He also charged them not to lose hope whatever the challenges they face, saying “life is not just for those who work hard but those who persevere.”
The leader of the student delegation thanked the governor for the gesture, promising that they will make the best result in the history of the state indigenes in the Law School and will be proud to present the results to the governor. He also promised that the beneficiaries of the bursary award would return to contribute their quota to the development of the state.