Arresting Public Schools’ Descent To Decay In Ekiti

September 2, 2012

Principal, Ayede Grammar School, Ayede-Ekiti, Mr. Faboyede Simeon; Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; and Special Adviser, Buraeu of Special Projects, Mr. Bayo Kelekun, during an inspection tour of on-going work of School Building under the State's Operation Renovate All Schools (ORASE), at Ayede Grammer School, Oye LGA.

Governor Kayode Fayemi’s move to restore the lost glory of Ekiti State in education sector has attracted applause from many stakeholders’ but the opposition party has disagreed with some of the policies, reports FEMI MAKINDE.

Ekiti State which hitherto was known as the Fountain of Knowledge in the country lived up to the name and the fame of indigenes spread within and outside the country.

Some of the brightest members of the academic community in the country are indigenes of the state. But the state has since lost its enviable position in the education sector to others.

Mass failure in public examination is now becoming a norm in a state which produced first professors in some disciplines.

Governor Kayode Fayemi, who himself is a lover of education, had promised in his manifesto that education sector in the state would be revived and his actions since he assumed office on October 16, 2010 are showing that the governor is walking his talk.

In his inaugural speech, the governor declared free and compulsory education for children in the state from primary to secondary level and reduced fees payable in the state-owned higher institutions.

He had told the people that his administration was out also to reverse the poor performance of students from the state in public examinations. He was aware that this could not be achieved by just making education free as the sector needed complete transformation to restore the state’s lost glory and this, he is obviously prosecuting with some of his policies.

Fayemi highlighted that to ensure this, teachers needed to be retrained and be up to date in their various fields, schools woule have to be equipped with facilities and the learning environment must be made conducive to stimulate pupils’ interest in education.

In upgrading teachers’ performance, he floated the Teachers Needs Development Assessment, which sparked off criticisms from the teachers who claimed that the policy was aimed at sacking some of them.

The first major step taken by the administration towards the transformation of the public schools in the state was the distribution of solar -powered laptop computer for each pupil in secondary schools across the state.

This has continued to receive commendation from many stakeholders.

In March, the governor presented Samsung laptop computers to some students drawn from various schools to commence the distribution. Also, the state government procured Braille computers for visually- impaired students and walking sticks and other devices to aid deaf students in their educational pursuit were distributed.

The governor put the population of secondary school students in the state at 95,000 but he said that the administration ordered for 100,000 computer sets , because it anticipated that enrolment in public schools would soon increase, because of this and other measures to be taken by the government.

At the primary school level, the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, Prof. Modupe Adelabu, introduced tree planting to give aesthetic value to schools and also introduced open-day which is the norm in private schools.

To lure more students to the public schools in the state, the administration has also approved the use of academic gowns for primary school pupils. Adelabu said some of these things were attracting some parents to patronise private schools and she stated that the government would do everything to increase enrolment in public schools.

Commenting on the policies in the education sector in the state, the Commissioner for Education, Dr. Eniola Ajayi, at a forum said the present administration inherited rot in the sector. But the former governor, Mr. Segun Oni, denied this claim.

Oni, in a statement made available to our correspondent by his media aide, Mr. Lere Olayinka, stated that the present government was just wasting a huge amount of money on propaganda.

He said, “The Oni-led government did not only build several blocks of classrooms and provided furniture, it also gave scholarship to over 2,000 students, including over 200 Ph.D students in Nigeria universities that were given N750,000 each and over 30 in overseas that got N1.5m each.

“Free textbooks were also provided in all subjects while registration for West African Examinations Council and National Examination Council examinations was free. The records are there.

“As per the laptops, the students who used the laptops with the internet facility that we provided free, before Fayemi came and took them away and the teachers that are being made to pay N95,000 for N40,000 Samsung laptops are in the best position to comment and not Fayemi’s Commissioner for Education, who does not know the correct spellings of names of most of the schools in Ekiti.

“Curiously too, the government came and scrapped a university that was already functioning under the guise that the state could not fund more than one university.”

Although the past Peoples Democratic Party administration in the state has refused to admit the claim that education was left in decay while the party was in power, having done its best, much was left undone as at the time Mr. Segun Oni administration was eased out of office by a court’s judgment.

This was obvious in some schools where walls were dilapidated with roofs blown away by winds and pupils sitting on the bare floor in the classrooms.

A renowned poet who is from the state, Prof. Niyi Osundare, while speaking during a visit to the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Funminiyi Afuye, said that the last time he visited the state , he saw that public schools which produced great scholars and other eminent personalities were in deplorable condition. He, however, said that he was pleased to hear that renovation works had begun on public schools across the state.

Osundare, who is a professor of English at the University of New Orleans, in the United States also commended the initiative of the state government in seeking to make the pupils computer literate by making free laptop computers available to them. According to him, this will assist in preparing the pupils for challenges outside the school.

Osundare said, “ Our state has changed. The last time I was at Amoye Grammar School,Ikere-Ekiti, I almost cried. I saw many classrooms without windows, the schools was in a bad state. Christ’s School is better because of the efforts of the alumni association. I am happy that renovation has begun there and in other schools. Laptop computers given to students, I read about it on the Internet.

I have not come here to praise, people say scholars are critics but if you see something good, you have to say it. There is a lot to be done because a lot of damage was done in the past but we are on the right path.”

Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi (left); flags-off of "Operation Renovate All Schools in Ekiti" (ORASE), at Methodist Comprehensive High School, Aaye-Ekiti.

At the commencement of the “Operation Renovate All Schools in Ekiti “ on July 26, at Aaye Comprehensive High School, Corpus Christi, Ilawe and Olaoluwa Muslim Comprehensive High School Ado-Ekiti, Fayemi said  the promise to revamp education in the state was an irrevocable contract he entered into with the people of the state.

He explained that all the 183 secondary schools in the state would receive a significant facelift to make learning and teaching fun.

Fayemi said, “This unprecedented whole scale renovation has a budget of N2.5 billion to accomplish. The first phase of the operation would span a period of seven weeks of the long vacation, covering 100 secondary schools at a cost of N1.9 billion naira. The schools where the first phase renovation covers have been carefully selected with an average of 30 secondary schools per Education District.

A block of classrooms before renovation work, at Ola-Oluwa Muslim Grammar School, Ado-Ilawe Road, Ado-Ekiti.

“In addition to this large scale renovation, a sum of N550million has been approved to procure decent student desks and chairs out of which not less than 40,000 units of the furniture would be produced within the seven weeks vacation period.

The package also includes furniture items for teachers valued at N50million to ensure that a more conducive environment for education delivery is created.

“I like to reiterate here that our resolve to reposition education is a well thought out plan. Therefore the prominent place education occupies in our eight point Agenda is a testimony to our commitment to the future of our children.

“This intervention therefore, is to ensure that we have functional education that equips our children with learning, enlightenment and enterprise to face the challenges of life more squarely. As can be seen, this is fundamental to our survival, our development and our future as a people.”

Less than a month after the renovation commenced, some of the buildings have been completed while others were still undergoing renovation.

A block of classrooms nearing completion, at Ola-Oluwa Muslim Grammar School, Ado-Ilawe Road, Ado-Ekiti.

After inspecting 31 schools where the renovation contracts were going on, the governor commended the contractors handling the projects saying that the pace at which they were working had shown their commitment to the vision of the state government – to create a conducive learning environment for students before resumption this month (September).

This article was first published in The Punch on 02 September, 2012.

Last modified: September 2, 2012

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