• Tony Igele

Boosting Education in Edo State

Education is key to the development of any society and what any society owes upcoming generation is qualitative education. Even at the smallest unit of the society, the family, education is the greatest asset any parent can give to his children.

It is a truism that any society that wants to develop or advance must invest in the education of its people. This is why every Edo man and woman will remember Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for the Red Roof Revolution in Edo state. It was a deliberate plan of government to boost primary and secondary education in the hope and belief that basic education was key to the advancement of Edo State.

Beyond that, the Edo State Government under Adams Oshiomhole scored high marks in routing special centres out of the state. The centres were where caution was thrown to the winds and candidates were helped to cheat in exams and children were carrying certificates that they could not defend. But all of that has changed as Edo children now read and pass their examination by themselves.

We are really pleased that the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has also prioritized education as one of its cardinal objective. He has not hidden his penchant for education since coming on board as the state chief executive. Only recently, he announced cash gifts of N100,000 each to deserving awardees of the Mathematics competitions that were held both locally and internationally.

This was when he received members of the Executive Council of the Edo State Chapter of Mathematical Association of Nigeria (MAN), who were in his office on a courtesy visit at Government House. He was particularly elated as he told his guests that government was proud of the award of academic excellence bestowed on them.

Also, Edo State Governor Mr. Godwin Obaseki had inaugurated a committee to come up with ways to revive the libraries in the State. The governor, like many Edo citizens is keen on rethinking the library system to blend it with new ways of doing things in the education sector of the state. He believes we can have many more books than we can store physically, and that we can store such electronically. He is also of the view that we can have an e-library, using it as a model to re-enact our library system in the state. This was during the visit of members of the Nigerian Library Association to the Governor.

A major outcome of the governor’s engagement with the NLA was his disclosure that he was already speaking with an investor with the funding to come and invest in the state as he knows of people who are currently investing on libraries in schools both within and outside the country.

It is obvious that the governor is seeking genuine plans and suggestions on how to revive the libraries in Edo State in ways and manners that it would work for the people and cost less. He equally wants progressive citizens and public spirited individuals as well as authurs to contribute to this lofty idea by donating books, structures or funds to speed-up the development of public and private library systems in the state. This is truly the way to go and deserves the support of all and sundry.

When the Library review Committee visited the Governor last week, he was largely quoted in the media as saying that an enlightened Society is that Society that reads hence his administration set up the Library Review Committee to revive the reading culture in the state.

It was an occasion when he received books donated to the Edo State Government by Rotary Club International District 9141 at an event held at Edo State Library Complex in Benin City.

Represented by the Chairman of the Library Review Committee Mrs. Grace Sanni, Gov. Obaseki said the reading culture in the society has declined because of focus of youths on social media rather than on their books as they prefer watching movies in the heat of their examination hence entering into examination hall depending on malpractice to pass their examinations.

Also, the House of Representatives committee on Basic Education recently commended the Edo state government for the judicious utilization of the Universal Basic Education funds in the state.

The committee’s Team leader, Hon Istifanus Gyang, said they were in Edo state as part of their legislative oversight functions to assess the level of utilization of the grant which he said gave them the opportunity to see for themselves the appreciable performance of the state over the years. This is a concomitant effect of the red roof evolution of the APC administration in Edo State.

While praising Edo State for proper utilization of the UBEC funds to boost education at the basic level, he lamented that many States have not accessed the UBEC grant for many years now and Edo is one of them. According to him, what is due Edo is about N3.1billion after paying its counterpart funds and with that a lot can still be achieved in the state.

Just as Gyang and his team to Edo want Edo state to take advantage of the available grant, I encourage the Edo State Government to pay up its counterpart fund and access. the grant again to boost education in the state. The Obaseki regime needs to build on Oshiomhole’s red roof revolution and possibly surpass his record in the education sector of the state

It was also good that the state Deputy Governor Rt Hon Philip Shaibu who received the committee on behalf of the Governor Obaseki assured that the state government will access the grant. The Government should accelerate work on it so that when the road construction effort would be progressing geometrically, the reconstruction and equipping of primary and secondary schools in the state would be going on pari-pasu.

Physical infrastructure and well trained educators in the education sector are the hardware and software respectively needed to bolster basic education in the state.

If all these pull through, I would encourage the state Government to also have some stakeholders meeting to discuss and agree on modalities for the sustainability of such projects because there are sad stories frequently on how hoodlums and even herdsmen vandalize schools that have been beautifully rebuilt. A sustainability plan that works should be put in place as the new projects are embarked upon. This will ensure that the labour of the obaseki administration does not go in vane.

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