By Ejiro Idama
WHEN Delta Government recently initiated a programme to revive the reading culture among students in schools through the presentation of a uniform scheme of work on reading, writing and mental arithmetic, some residents were rather curious.
â€œAre we going back to the good old days of the three Rs? Are we moving forward? Will this solve the problem of falling standards in education? Perhaps time will tell,â€™â€™ were some of the views by some observers at the occasion.
But Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who unveiled the scheme at a colourful public presentation at Government House, Asaba, had other ideas.
He said that the scheme would offer a veritable avenue to curb the deteriorating academic standards in Delta.
He said that the scheme would also inculcate in the beneficiaries the ability to read, write and solve simple arithmetic in schools.
He also assured the teachers of governmentâ€™s commitment to improving their welfare just as he appealed to them to ensure that the new scheme succeeded. â€œI want to assure you that the state government is concerned about your welfare.
All the issues NUT raised during the strike action will be addressed. As we give to you what you need, please do the same to the children you teach. Have their interest at heart.â€
He explained that in spite of the challenges faced by the government in providing quality education through the provision of infrastructures and modern equipment for schools, especially in the rural areas of the state, the people of Delta still have access to education.
He said that the state had been tackling the issue of lack of teachers in rural areas by employing more teachers to be posted to those areas.
He also assured them of â€œnecessary incentivesâ€™â€™ to actualise governmentâ€™s good intentions for the promotion of scholarship in children from rural community schools.
Uduaghan said: â€œ We have to accept that the children in the rural communities are our children, as such they are entitled to quality education with quality teachers.â€
He said that apart from teachers parents also had roles to play in the education of their wards.
He advised parents to be involved in the education of their children especially in the area of morals since children spend more time at home than in the school. These are important posture the state governor adopted, which perhaps influenced the policy of his government.
Then another policy thrust for preparing the Delta child to face the realities of tomorrow had been the state governmentâ€™s constitution of what it called the mentoring committee for schools
The Committee which was inaugurated April this year at the end of the state executive council meeting in Asaba was mandated to evolve a â€œcomprehensive list of prominent indigenesâ€™â€™ toÂ serve as role models for students in their respective communities.
The committee is headed by Mr Tony Nwaka, the Commissioner, Directorate of Local Government Affairs.
From public statement it was learnt that the government asked the Nwaka committee to come up with a comprehensive list of eminent people of Delta across the 25 local government areas, who will mentor schools in their respective communities.
The idea, according to government, is to for prominent Deltans to assist government reposition the educational sector.
This idea is a smart one because by drawing prominent people close to the grass roots, should make them more involved in their locality and at the same inspire the young ones. The mentoring system is a voluntary service of giving back something to the community.
As if this is not enough the state government awarded a N453 million contract for the construction of 28, 000 units of classroom desks for distribution to schools in Delta.
These additional desks are in addition to the 11,000 desks already distributed to schools.
The Commissioner for Education who spoke concerning these programmes said it is in fulfillment of Gov. Uduaghan’s promise to provide public schools in the state with desks and chairs.
The Commissioner said the gesture would solve the problem of acute shortage of school desks in public schools.
She appealed to the benefiting schools to safeguard the items when supplied.
As good as these programmes sound, what is clear is that the government with its good intention may be confronting an industry that deserves a lot more. I say so because without education our society and entire system of running an efficient modern society is doomed.
I commend the Governor, but I would challenge him to do a lot more. He is building bridges to ensure the development of the right manpower for the economy and this is good. But a lot more is needed if Delta State is to be reckoned with in future.
Mr.Â Â Idama, a public affairs commentator, writes from Asaba, Delta State.