NIGERIA: Qualitative education not optional – Amaechi

From right: Professor Wole Soyinka, Governor Rotimi Amaechi and his deputy at the Rivers State 2013 Education Summit at Government House, Port Harcourt.Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State  has charged education stakeholders, especially the Federal Government to enact a law that will ensure every Nigerian gets access to qualitative education, stressing that qualitative education was not optional but the right of every Nigerian.

He said; “The facade of our schools cannot deceive us into believing in educational development. We should not politicise education. Education is the right of every Nigerian. I don’t think we have done enough investment in the area of education. The problem of primary education is not solved yet from what we inherited. What I have done is to put structures in place by law and appointed people to run it. It is now left for them to run it properly.”

The Summit which was organised on the broad theme; Enhancing Sustainable Development in Education had in attendance the Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, his deputy, Engr. Tele Ikuru, members of the Rivers State Executive Council, Her Excellency, Mrs. Sarah Sosan, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State; Commissioners of Education from other states of the federation, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo, Emeritus Prof. Tekena Nitonye Tamuno and Prof. Otonti Nduka, Prof. Nimi Briggs, Hon. Leyii Kwanee, Hon. Paul Ngo, Hon. Odein Ajumogobia, and other dignitaries who brainstormed on the way forward to revamp the sector.

Amaechi, while presenting his education score-card at the Rivers State two-day Education Summit held at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt said;  “We need to study the reason we have the total malaise we have in education system in this country, I think the reason for this malaise is the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The constitution is anomalous because it gives the administration of education to local government who doesn’t have the capacity to handle it, adding, ”If you leave primary school in the hands of local government council, then, what we will be churning out at the secondary school levels are  illiterates.” He maintained that  if we are going to have a reform the education system, it must start from primary school then up to the tertiary level of education.”

For example, “ I met 1,300 primary schools, 6 classroom blocks when I became governor.  I met militants and 95 per cent of the militants were not educated, they did not even attend primary school and I knew that if this situation continues, it will bear serious consequence for citizens of the state.

He said that he wanted to ensure that there was a standard of education that will prepare these children for employment not just to make them employable, but to create awareness that will make them employ themselves.

According to him, the best way to handle this was to first get people who have the capacity to impact knowledge and commencement of free education covering free books, sandals, bags and sportswear for public schools, adding that without qualified teachers, the state will only continue to democratize illiteracy.

The governor who explained the reason for hiring additional 13, 000 teachers after building model secondary schools across the state said that his administration wanted teachers who have passion to impact knowledge and who are properly trained adding “the13,000 new teachers cannot be straight jacketed, it must be viewed from economic, political and social perspectives.”

However, the worry and concern of stakeholders in the state is the continuation of the vision and legacy Governor Amaechi has laid down as he leaves office 2015.

In a swift reaction, Amaechi said there is need to have confidence in our leaders adding that when he assumed power few years ago, his critics were like, what will this inexperienced young man do for the state, but today, the revolution in the education sector of the state speaks volumes for his achievements.

He, however, urged the people of the state to embrace and believe in anyone who will succeed him saying his successor might even surpass his achievements.

According to him, “The overall essence of the Rivers State Education Policy is to produce individuals who are sufficiently equipped to live and do business in the 21st Century globalised world.

Expanding activities
Speaking at the summit chairmaned by Professor Wole Soyinka, the Commissioner for Education, Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi said; “ The main objective of the summit was to review what has been happening in the Education Sector since 2008 and to find ways of consolidating and sustaining the achievements so far, as well as expanding activities to other key areas not yet covered.”

In a communique released at the end of the summit, it was agreed that “Curriculum implementation for the revised Basic Education Curriculum will be in phases as prescribed by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Commission (NERDC).

There is need to review the programmes of Rivers State University of Science and Technology/University of Education to be in tandem with demands of the new curriculum. Textbooks should also be restructured in line with the revised Basic Education Curriculum.

Science and Technology education should receive a boost. Management and teacher capacity should be built through refresher courses and re-certification programmes, ie Continuous Teacher Development. All new teachers soon to be injected into the school system will be inducted to be able to grapple with demands of classroom teaching.

Quality Assurance shall be given the expected impetus through the activities of the Quality Assurance Agency of the state.

Efforts will be made to redress all forms of disparities in learning outcomes due to gender, location and socio-economic background etc. More programmes and facilities will be put in place to ensure that persons with special needs benefit maximally from mainstream education in the state. Faith-based organisations to be involved in values re-orientation of pupils/students.

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