FEATURES: Ekiti Unfolds Education Sector Recovery Strategies, Insists On Tests For Teachers

June 8, 2012

Dr Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State Governor and Dr. Eniola Ajayi, Commissioner for Education, Science, and Technology

Despite steps being taken by the Ekiti State government to provide education of good quality, fundamental challenges still persist.  Poor quality of  teachers is one,  poor students’ performance, uneven distribution of teachers, automatic promotion for pupils, and examination malpractice are others.

At the moment, over 18,000 teachers are catering for the 150,000 pupils and 96,000 students in the state’s primary and secondary schools respectively. However, the state governemt is unhappy over students’ perfomance in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE). The state recorded 20 per cent effective credit passes in the May/June 2010 WASSCE, and 27 per cent  in the 2011 version. Effective credits refer to a combination of five subjects which include English Language and Mathematics.

Besides, only three students from the state scored 300 and above in the 2012 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) being conductued by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB),  out of the 1,500,000 candidates that sat for the examination nationwide.

While Ekiti State may not have any serious problems especially in the area of access to primary education, other challenges facing the state government include the increasing number of students dropping out of secondary schools. Besides, boys are becoming more difficult to manage, especially in the area of discipline. Teenage girls are also  dropping out of school due to pregnancies. Truancy has also become the order of the day.

Ekiti State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Dr Eniola Ajayi who spoke to The Guardian in Lagos recently,  admitted that there was no proper coordination of anything before the present administration came on board.

“The first thing the governor did was to institute a task force and visitation panel for the  education sector, to help us do an assessment and proffer solutions. They looked at the sector from primary to tertiary level. In the course of their work, they came up with several findings on primary education, secondary education, Technical education, Tertiary education, curriculum, Information and Communication Technology, and other issues such as examination malpractices, involvement of parents, teachers, among others.

“For instance, the secondary schools had the problem of uneven distribution of students and teachers. During 2010/2011, the state witnessed a situation where they had 535 students in JSS 1 at Christ’s Girls’ School, Ado-Ekiti while they also had 91 students in SS1-SS3 at Ado Grammar School.”

According to the commissioner, the state decided to peg enrolment in each school at 200 students per session, except for schools in Ado Ekiti and Ikere Ekiti, which were allowed to enroll 240 students because of the population of students in the two cities. The government decided on a maximum of 40 students per class, which is already in force  in the 2011/2012 session.

For the Government Technical Colleges, she said it was observed the colleges had an enrolment of 960 students with 180 teaching and non teaching staff across the state and a recommendation was made to reduce the schools to three with a vocational centre of excellence in Ado-Ekiti and another three Life Academies, which have been proposed for Ijero Ekiti, Iluomoba Ekiti and Otun Ekiti.

While drumming up massive campaign to ensure that students that are supposed to be of school age are in school, she said that funding had been the bane of the education sector. She traced the trend to the Structured Adjustment Programmes period of over 10 years, when the federal annual allocation to the Education sector was less 1 per cent of the entire budget.

On funding, she disclosed that the state was committed to increasing funding. She stated: “The state will be spending over N1.9 billion yearly from year 2012-2014 on ICT education alone at this level. The governor has also flagged-off Operation Renovate all Schools in Ekiti (ORASE) and the 2012 budget clearly reflects this. This will include renovation of classrooms, laboratories, sport facilities, hostel accommodation in boarding schools and construction of toilets as well as perimeter fencing across the state.      Ekiti State is poised towards spending nearly 24 per cent, which is the UNESCO recommendation from an annual budget”.

On  ICT, Ajayi noted that, in line with the governor’s promise to put a computer on the desk of every student in Ekiti State, the state signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Samsung Corporation to provide 100,000 pieces of solar note books for our students in secondary schools and a laptop computer for our 18,000 teachers in both primary and secondary schools. We have taken delivery of the first consignment of 7000 laptops that were distributed to students and teachers. Few days ago, we received additional 4000 laptops for students and teachers, and by the end of September, all our teachers in Ekiti State, including those in primary schools, would have laptops of their own”.

On teacher quality, she said: “Poor quality teaching is another problem we also identified under this sector.  This informed our decision to embark on strategic capacity building for teachers in our secondary schools. We are focusing on areas where our students are most in need, to help improve teaching and learning. One of such efforts brought about the invitation of Mr. Steve Leinwand – a Mathematics expert from the American Institute, in conjunction with three other indigenous Mathematics Professors, who took our teachers on how to simplify the teaching of Mathematics in both primary and secondary Schools,”

Ajayi, who identified ignorance as a major challenge among students in the state, also said apart from textbooks in core subjects, the state government was also providing dictionaries. “This year, we budgeted N76 million just to purchase dictionaries because we see the downward trend in spoken english and their understanding of it. We believe that if they have access to vocabularies, they will express themselves better, be able to understand comprehension and  summarise things properly.’

For  tertiary education, she explained that it was agreed at the education summit that the state should not have three universities.  “The universities have now been merged into what we now know as Ekiti State University (EKSU). We want our students to have a culture of having gone through the university system. So far, the state is proposing about one billion naira (N1b) in the 2012 budget for the university.”

On its policy of free education and subsidised fees at the tertiary level, she said: “In Ekiti, we have looked at our population and most our people who are in EKSU are not people who can afford the high fees. It is a game of numbers.  Even if the students pay N50,000, you can get it properly managed. There is no government in the world that can fund education alone, that is why universities abroad do what we call endowments.

Harvard endowments in a year is more that the entire budget of Nigeria to education. So, we should explore such areas. Before I became commissioner in Ekiti State, they told me nobody has ever secured sponsorship but right now we have organisations coming in to lend support.    With the advent of the current governing Council, we are making provision for IT facilities, sports facilities because how can a university be in existence for 30 years and have no sport facilities? Why would they not do cultism? They fight at the slightest provocation because there is no recreational facilities.”

Commenting on steps being taken by the ministry to ensure quality assurance in schools across the state, she said out of the 125 private schools in the state, 31 illegal private secondary schools have been slated for closure

“One of our core strategies in education is to ensure old school monitoring. In Ekiti State the state EXCO has just recently approved the establishment of a quality assurance agency. We will sanction teachers for not being in class when they should, for  not teaching enough hours or covering the curriculum or writing their lesson notes completely”.

Meanwhile, as part of its strategy to enhance the capacity of teachers and improve on teaching quality, Over 16,000 teachers in Ekiti State were scheduled to sit for the Teachers Development Needs Assessment (TDNA) test being organized by the state government to help raise standards and performance in the public school system.

Last modified: June 8, 2012

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