The Walton Liverpool Magic Of Transforming Subeb In Bayelsa State

By Idumange John

Education is one of the vital catalysts for national development. According to the National Policy on Education (2008) “Education in Nigeria is an instrument “per excellence’ for effecting national development. Certainly, what Nigeria needs is quality education to turn her economy around and this has to start at the basic level of education, which Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes universal, free and compulsory.

Basic education is like the foundation of a building. When the foundation of a building is strong, then nobody will question the solidity of the building. When a child acquires quality basic education, post-primary and tertiary education are a given. Basic or foundational education occupies a significant place in the entire educational system.

In Nigeria, the body that administers basic education is the Universal Basic Education, which collaborates with the States and shares responsibility with the States. Jean Jacque Rousseau (1762) opined that: “Nature wants children to be children before they are men. If we deliberately depart from this order, we shall get pre mature fruits which are neither ripe nor well flavoured and which soon decay childhood has ways of seeing, thinking and feeling peculiar to its self, nothing can be more foolish than seek to substitute our ways for them”.

In 999, Nigeria established the Universal Basic Education Board to cater for basic education around the Country with a view to:

Developing in the entire citizenry a strong consciousness for Education and a strong commitment to its vigorous promotion.

Providing free, universal basic education for every Nigerian child of school-going age. • Reducing drastically the incidence of drop out from the formal school system.

Catering: for the learning needs of young person’s for me reason or another who have had to interrupt their schooling through appropriate forms of complimentary approaches to the provision and promotion.

Ensuring the acquisition of the appropriate levels of literacy numeracy, manipulative, communicative and life skills, as well as the ethnical, moral and civic value needed for the overall development of the Country.

Objectives Of UBE
Ensure unfettered access to nine (9) years of formal basic education.

The provision of free, Universal Basic Education for every Nigerian child of school¬ going age.

Reducing drastically the incidence of drop-out from the formal school system, through improved relevance, quality and efficiency.

Ensuring the acquisition of appropriate levels of literacy, numeracy, manipulative, communicative and life skills as well as the ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying a solid foundation for life-long learning.

Core Values of the UBE Commission
Honesty and Accountability
Integrity and Transparency
Team Work and Commitment
The essence of reinforcing basic education is to ensure that it can help an individual function effectively in the society. Basic education is essential for life, as it equips an individual with necessary skills to survive it’ his environment, hence it should be a practical and functional education. The idea of “Education” connotes transmission of knowledge from general to generation. In the UBE programme, it is expected that theoretical and practical knowledge transmitted to learners in its simplistic form. This involves starting from the scratch and being able to carry the leaner along This education is the “aggregate of all the processes by which a child or young adult develops the abilities, attitudes and other forms of behaviours, which are of positive value to the society in which he lives”

When Governor Seriake Dickson mounted the saddle, he reconfigured the Law implementing the UBE and Chief Walton Liverpool was appointed Executive Secretary. Since then basic education has witnessed a quantum leap in development. Facts made available showed that in 2012, 2,293 teachers in the Primary Schools, and Basic Junior Secondary schools including education managers (Head Teachers, Principals,LGEA Education Chairmen, School Supervisors) were trained. This brings the total number of participants to 2, 640. To complement the efforts of the federal government, 3,000 teachers were trained in the State. Bayelsa State has never had it so good in the basic education sector under Walton Liverpool.

The facilities in each Mega School deserve a mention. Each of the 27 mega schools completed by SUBEB comprises: 12 classrooms; 75KVA generator, functional Water Scheme, two Computer theatres. Special Rooms for Intro. Tech and other Sciences; well-equipped Laboratory, a library 23, toilets and a Standard Store. Others are a massive multi-purpose Hall that can seat 2000 persons, an open play ground, sports facilities and headmasters/ Headmistresses Quarters.

For those who know, the 25 Mega schools were awarded by the immediate past administration and mobilization was paid to contractors, but the schools were abandoned. Some of them were never started at all. But in a swift turn around, SUBEB within 18 months, completed the 25 mega schools and they are all equipped, up and running. Comrade Liverpool, who himself is a professional educationists walks the talk. Some of the previous contracts were revoked because of the nonchalant attitude of the contractors.

Bayelsans are satisfied that the Board has lived up to expectation. In terms of monitoring contractors, staff supervision and infrastructure, SUBEB ensures that all educational inputs are optimally utilized to achieve desired goals. Today, teacher –pupil ration has reduced and this has increased attention span thereby increasing quality learning. With well-equipped facilities, a conducive environment and a highly motivated teacher-force, quality education becomes an essential corollary.

Prior to the Walton Liverpool led administration Bayelsa was acutely disadvantaged in basic education. SUBEB under Liverpool has fared much better. Bayelsa was the worst in terms of quality of education in the South-South geopolitical zone but under the present dispensation, it ranks among the best the the South-South geopolitical zone and the 10th best in the country. It is against this background that Bayelsa SUBEB has won more than seven (7) awards from the local, State and national bodies, the last being the award from the House of Representative Committee on Rural Development. If the Board sustains its tempo, there is no doubt that more accolades will come its way.

The school for the teachers retraining programme is been built at Bolou -Orua. If you visit the site, the structures are of University standard. We are building hostel accommodations, befitting classrooms, and library and so on. The programme would start soon because already, the Director of the school has been appointed and the infrastructure is going on speedily. Even last year we started doing some retraining of teachers but the governor said that only one or two weeks training is too short to be effective. To do it right, government have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian government to assist us to train our teachers. The Liverpool-led SUBEB in Bayelsa State has also taken the responsibility building model primary schools. Whereas some have been completed others are nearing completion. This is in spite of scores of schools the Board has renovated.

The SA to Governor Dickson on Inspectorate Dr. (Mrs) Stella Ogolo observed that because of the massive improvements of basic education, enrolment has increased significantly in Yenagoa in the public schools. She added that the Public Schools in Bayelsa State not compete favourably with private Schools. In fact the Private schools are seeing the SUBEB magic and they are trying to adjust”. The implication is that so many parents have withdrawn their children from private schools to public schools.

Due to the previous neglect of the system and the present increased enrolment, the system is faced with deficit in furniture. This is largely due to the fact that the Great Flood of 2012 utterly destroyed all school furniture in the system. SUBEB has done a lot in the area of computer education. All the new structures have ICT centre, library and headmasters office but you must agree with me that before you can bring computers to any school, there must be teachers.

I have visited some schools that were provided with up to 50 to 60 computers by the State but they were not put to use because there were no teachers. It was for this reason Bayelsa SUBEB has made ICT literacy compulsory for all teachers. Recently, an education officer from a neighbouring school visited one of the basic schools. Here is his observation: when I visited the one of the schools, the headmaster took me to the computer laboratory, Bayelsa has standard computer laboratory to teach trainee teachers. I saw State of the art infrastructure. I think I should like my State to emulate the Liverpool magic. Thus theoretically and practically, the Walton-led SUBEB has transformed children’s attitude towards teaching and learning. The School is periodically conducting refresher courses as well promotion interviews. This is done to motivate teachers towards higher productivity behaviour.

While it may be said that the system has its own challenges, the “Liverpool magic” has transformed the system so drastically that it has become one of the flagship Boards of the State. We aim for success, not perfection. We never give up on our right to learn new things because ultimately we aim at perfectionism. It was Plato who said many years ago that “Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each”. This is what the Board has achieved.

Bayelsa SUBEB under Comrade Walton Liverpool has become one of the reference points in the Restoration administration because of the commitment of Governor Seriake Dickson, the passion and prudence in the deployment of resources by the Executive Secretary - Walton Liverpool and the prevailing convivial atmosphere created by the leadership of the Board. In the circumstances, with the collective will of government and the unflinching commitment of the members

of the Board, things can only get better.
Idumange John, is a policy analyst

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