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 Published January 29th, 2012

It is difficult to rob Ogun State of it pivotal place in the scheme of things, as far as education is concerned. There is definitely no field of human endeavor in Nigeria- be it medicine, law , accounting, arts or even politics- that does not have an indigene of the state leading the pack. This feat could be significantly attributed to the positive influence of early western missionaries on the people. History has it that the influx of early western missionaries, who had initial contact with people in the area, did not only spread the Christian religion; they also gave the then much sought after western education to the people. Also, it is believed that some of the free slaves after the abolition of the nefarious slave trade regime retraced their roots to Egbaland and its environ. The positive effect of this on the development education in the area has  remained extant.

It is an accepted notion that education is pivotal to the development of any society as no nation could develop beyond the level of the educational or intellectual pedestal of its citizens. Most nations that are reckoned with as being developed today attain such heights based on the quality of their human resource and the citizen’s creative ingenuity and intellectual powers, usually derived and nurtured through quality education. Research has shown that in comparative terms, countries with good educational systems have generally benefitted from higher economic growth. Japan where primary and secondary education systems are excellent has for long enjoyed literate and skilled workforce. In France, the UK and USA where higher education is developed have witnessed great advances in sciences which have in turn sparked great industrial development. In Italy and Germany where skill development has been facilitated by technical schools and well entrenched systems of apprenticeship, high quality engineering has contributed substantially to their economic success. India of late is perhaps the best example of an economy aided by educationally led human resources. With its national universities and hundreds of college graduates churned out annually, skills in computer programming have underpinned India’s booming revolution in information technology as well as the field of medicine. Giving the fact that the world is now a global village, there is need for all nations to brace up significantly in the area of educating its people so as not to put them and the entire nation perpetually at the back side of under-development.

Coming back home, it is regretful that Ogun State has had its own bitter pill of the indiscretion and national neglect suffered by the educational system by successive governments. Perhaps the most significant attempt to fortify the state’s educational structure was under the Late Bisi Onabanjo administration which attempted to buoy the educational policy of the then Unity Party of Nigeria, under Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Ever since, the state’s primary and secondary education sectors have been on the downward swing. Public schools were avoided like the Egyptian plaque, especially by parents and guardians who prefer to enroll their children or wards in the flourishing private schools. The end product of this neglect is already scaring the society in the face as it also portends greater future challenges, if urgent steps are  not taken. Already, half backed educated or poorly schooled youths abound in their  multitudes all over the place. The rising trend in crimes perpetrated by the youth are are also a manifestation of the poor public school system. This writer holds the strong view that many of the homicidal “okada ridders” operating on our streets today are either drop outs from public schools or apprenticeship, which should not have been.

It is against this backdrop that the moves by the present Ogun Sate government under Senator Ibikunle Amosun to re-write the story of the state’s education sector tripped the excitement of this writer and prodded him to join his views positively to the progressive moves of the government and also point out a few areas of attention that could make the “revolution” wholesome.

Vexed by the decay in the educational infrastructure, Governor Ibikunle Amosun on assumption of office commenced the facelift of several secondary schools which buildings were decrepit and had made the schools environment in-convivial for learning. This move has greatly motivated the teachers as well as the students. To further give teeth to his avowed intention, administration recently commenced the distribution of free text books and educational materials to students of public schools across the four geographical zones of the state. The books covered the subjects of English, mathematics, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Civic Education, Yoruba Language, Agricultural Science and Computer Studies. Others are Social Studies, Basic Science, French, etcetera.

Senator Amosun who was quite delighted at the flag-off of the exercise noted that the gesture was in tandem with the policy thrust of his administration as espoused in his inaugural speech in May 2011. He underscored the fact that education is a fundamental right of every citizen as well as a means of  improving the quality of life of the citizen and that education cannot be said to be qualitative if students lack textbooks, stationeries and other instructional materials. Like a tip of the ice bag, Senator Amosun utilized the forum to roll out other juicy packages for the sector. Among other things, he said his government intended to sustain the distribution of the textbooks having budgeted the sum of N1.8billion for the materials in this year’s budget. The government also said it will commence renovation of additional 100 secondary schools and establish 50 model secondary schools in the 20 Local Government Areas of the state. This will be an addition to its settlement of the embarrassing backlog of WASCE and NABTEC fees of the state students, owed for the past two years.

There is definitely no gainsaying the fact that the unfolding educational policy and initiatives of Governor Amosun is applaudable as it would serve as the basis for a re-launch of the state back to its pivotal place, educationally. However, it would be a good idea if the government also begins to look at ways of empowering teachers who are also principal stakeholders in the educational sector. Since it is impossible to give what one does not have, the government should consider a regime of structured and continuous training for teachers in the state public schools, particularly in the area of contemporary teaching methodologies, in order for them to embrace the new policy. Above all, there is need to have a solid commitment towards building an enduring structure for the state’s educational system that all stake holders could clearly identify and key into, even after the regime would have elapsed. One would reckon that the problem with past administrations in the state was not that some of them did not see the need to fortify the educational sector, but they were probably too engrossed with piece meal policies that only projected their personalities and political aspirations as against building enduring structures. It is better this time for the present administration to match its strategy and vision for the sector with enduring structures, realizing that failure to do that would amount to building a beautiful edifice on a shifting ground!



 is a PR public affairs analyst based in Lagos

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