Before now, the Ekitis were revered for producing one professor in every family. But nowadays, indigenes, government, parents, academicians and other stakeholders bemoan the falling standard of education in the state known as the fountain of knowledge. In this report, BOSE ADELAJA examines the problem of education in Ekiti and efforts made by past and present administrations in returning the state to its past glory.
RENOWNED professors like the first Nigerian professor in the field of Mathematics, Adegoke Olubunmo, first professor of Architecture in West Africa, Adeyinka Adeyemi; J.F. Ade-Ajayi, Niyi Osundare, Bolaji Aluko, Peter Bodurin, late Sam Aluko, B.O Osuntokun and numerous others have one thing in common: they are all proud indigenes of Ekiti State and have held sway in the academic sector.
Ekitis have produced some highly educated citizenry who have made global marks and have become pioneers in their respective fields. Her claim to being a fountain of knowledge is partially based on its numerous achievements, especially in the academic sector and all over the federation, the State is reputed to have produced the highest number of professors.
Generally, education cannot be mentioned without the touch of the “Fountain of Knowledge” in every field of the academia. Nowadays, however, the falling standard of education in the state has become a source of worry to many people both in the state and nationally. In its fifteen years of existence, successive governments from the military era till date, have made efforts to reverse the trends including the construction of a resource centre for the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Ekiti State wing but their efforts only succeeded in yielding little or not result.
Panel on education sector
The administration of Dr. Kayode Fayemi brought stakeholders together by setting up a task force/visitation panel to the education sector from pre-nursery to tertiary level. The panel was chaired by Chief. J.G.O. Adegbite who came up with credible document that tend to identify what the problems are and how the solution could be achieved. The document was presented for scrutiny before Ekiti sons and daughters at the State education summit in May 2011.
The outcome was later reduced to a government white paper which the State is now implementing. At the Summit, the education sector was analysed in various segments ranging from primary, secondary, technical and tertiary education as well as curriculum, information and communication technology, ICT, to mention but a few.
Reference was made to Thomas L. Friedman, who in his essay entitled “Pass the Books, Hold the Oil,” urged the Ekitis “to mine the brains of our people, if we have no oil to drill.” Friedman had argued that people should believe in the development of knowledge as knowledge is power. The first step adopted by the administration was that of purchase of a new curriculum and employment of the services of experts to break it down for easy use of teaching.
In the process, the administration employed a Mathematics expert named Steve Leinwand, from the American Institute in conjunction with three indigenous Mathematics professors who taught their teachers how to simplify teaching of Mathematics for teachers in both primary and secondary schools.
Also at the secondary school level, the State government introduced complete ICT learning systems. As a result of this gesture, the state government embarked on provision of 100,000 pieces of solar note books for the students and a laptop computer for 18,000 teachers in both primary and secondary schools. This they believe will revolutionise teaching and learning processes as these laptops come with anti virus applications and education soft wares. The government hopes that by the year 2014, it would have achieved its aim of one laptop to each student and teachers.
The ICT is not limited to the able bodied persons but about N16m worth of computers and instructional materials have also been distributed to three special schools of the physically challenged worth specialised made Brailles. This indicates that the physically challenged are not left out in the developmental goals of the state government.
The laptops are specially tracked and batteries could last for 13 hours without interruption. Also, the government has put an end to children going to school in polythene bags by issuing them 100,000 units of compact school bags to all secondary school students. Apart from this, it has commenced renovation of public schools’ infrastructure and introduced tutor-generals to improve the overall monitoring, evaluation and quality of teaching in their three education districts. It has also organised proper induction courses for them since January 2012.
A special arrangement has also been made with Samsung, for provision of an after sales centre in the state which will employ Ekiti youths and provide a resource centre to train people in the tertiary institution.
At the technical education level, the administration has reportedly resolved that there will be three technical colleges with a vocational centre of excellence in Ado-Ekiti. These are to be supported with three life academies, one in each senatorial district which will help to bridge the gap and serve as a finishing school for graduates. Such graduates will be taught life skills such as team work, ICT, leadership skills, writing and profile building etiquette and many more. It will also serve as veritable strategy policy and leadership development centre for the state where other states might send their people for orientation or will be made employable.
At the tertiary level, the state government resolves to bring the three tertiary institutions to one, to transform them from their glorified secondary school status into a world class university which will now be known as University of Ado-Ekiti. Seasoned world class professors have been chosen to reorganise colleges of education to a standadised structure for production of productive teachers.
The Ekiti State government has also introduced social security scheme for the elderly people from the ages of 65 and above. Having done all these, stakeholders and indigenes hope the gestures will be sustained such that the lost glory will be restored and the fountain will once again be revered for the world wide knowledge it was known for.