OSHIOMHOLE'S EDUCATION POLICY: THREE YEARS IN PERSPECTIVES
A LOT of people have always praised the Governor Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole-led administration for the infrastructural development in Edo State.
But for me, what I consider as the most remarkable achievement is the restoration of the people's confidence, especially in the expression of their right to entrench genuine democracy under the auspices of 'One Man, One Vote' policy of the government. And that the son of a cassava farmer can rise to become anything that God has destined him to be.
Oshiomhole's story in government is that only God can determine the life and success of a man, not any godfather. When a society runs a system where only one man decides if vacancy exists or not, that societycannot grow. Development cannot occur by miracle but in the realm of entrenching one man, one vote. Without the fear of the electorate, good governance is impossible.
This is the foundation upon which Oshiomhole's achievements with the period under review is built. It is on record that the government of Oshiomhole has within the space of two years and 11 months standardized public schools in the state with a wholistic approach at renovating of over 120 public schools, provided learning aids and instructional materials to all schools across the state, implemented teachers posting to adequately staff schools in rural areas, eradication of illegal examination centres popularly called miracle centers.
There are still some schools yet to be renovated in the rural communities, but Oshiomhole's government established a uniform standard in the construction of schools just as there are plans by the State Government to rehabilitate and reposition the Benin Technical College to meet the challenges of producing middle level manpower by establishing a football academy at the premises of the institution.
It is Oshiomhole's belief that if these schools are well-equipped, the state can produce people who can be self-employed, people who can be bricklayers, mechanic, technicians, and electricians. Remember, this is a school that was long abandoned and neglected.
The Governor Oshiomhole-led administration built the Idia College hall and renovated the school among other schools in the state and have become excellent facilities and this is because investment in educational infrastructure such as the provision of a conducive environment for learning would lead to development of our human resources.
Education as a policy item happens to be top most in the priorities of the Edo State Economic Agenda of the Governor Oshiomhole-led administration. It is so for obvious reasons because it is the most important asset Edo people can boast of and this is what makes its people different and unique.
However, Oshiomhole's critics are quick to say teachers' reward is on earth and that they should earn a fortune as if the Governor was voted to pay salaries and wages alone allow other areas of infrastructural development to suffer. How is it possible to combine the over 190 projects on-going in the state with a colossal sum of over N180 billion injected into it? For me, I fear that one day, after Oshiomhole, whoever gets the mandate to preside over the state treasury may have to resign over inability to cope with monthly wage bill, sack workers or better still, choose between workers salary and state development; all these Oshiomhole is coping with.
The Governor's political will is evident in the development and evolution of this sector. It would be appropriate for me to do an assessment of this sector and also probe issues and ask questions like: how far has Oshiomhole gone in the education sector? What has he been able to accomplished? What are the challenges that still confront us and how do we think of a policy to ensure that we achieve our objectives?
Before the advent of this administration, Comrade Oshiomhole had approached a couple of professionals and experts in the education sector to help come up with a blueprint for his administration. And so, what we have as our education policy today is a document that was conceptualized by professionals.
What the Governor did was to throw up education, infrastructure and production and as such, he has invested about N180 billion on infrastructure to open up the state. Focus in this respect has not only been in the area of road and drainage construction, but also includes school and hospital infrastructure development.
I can testify that the Governor is very proud that the decadence he met is gradually giving way. It was as a result of planning though. And the objectives were that children of pre-primary school age should have access to early childhood care and developmental education. In the case of primary school, children under this age must have easy access too; there must be teaching aids and learning materials, motivated teachers and that government would create conducive environment for proper and sound teaching/learning because without these, we cannot have sound primary education which is the bedrock and pillar of our future generation.
In the case of junior secondary schools, it is basically the same thing: to ensure access and to provide modern infrastructure for these children. The Governor did an assessment of where the state was as at that time and discovered that the state of education then was particularly bad; not that it has changed totally but at least, what has changed is that for once, government, especially under the administration of Comrade Oshiomhole is focused and has decided to commit huge resources to ensuring that education improves geometrically as against what he met on ground.
In all the cases, what Oshiomhole met on ground was inadequate facilities, indiscipline and ill-motivated teachers, decreasing public school enrolment; all these were the problems bedeviling the entire educational spectrum and the thrust of this administration was to address these issues in that order.
Firstly, the Governor resuscitated the inspectorate and monitoring unit of the ministry and that there would be zero tolerance for indiscipline among other vices. He said private schools in the state must be re-accredited and that exams malpractices would be treated as criminal offence. Clearly, these were very ambitious goals but when you look at these issues today, Edo people would be the best judge of how far the administration has gone in this sector.
Moreso, the Governor made sure that there was effective control of the schools and also put in place a machinery to constitute community-based schools management board, institute scholarship schemes for indigent students, recruit teachers of various subjects areas, convene an education summit for all stakeholders, complete at least 50 percent rehabilitation of school infrastructure and provide a maximum of 75 percent of the required instructional materials.
As we speak, the mechanism to monitor all the schools in order to conform to standard is in progress. Edo State government has in its work plan, an intention to complete two modern primary and secondary schools in each local government area of the state and this is on-going.
It also includes a collaboration with local governments to give bursary awards to students in tertiary institutions. Again, we are not there yet in some of these areas but what Governor Oshiomhole thought was significant is that the proper planning needed to jumpstart this process of rejuvenation and reclamation has begun.
Mr. ONAIVI OZIOTU, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Igarra, Edo State.