By Gbenga Olarinoye
For the 1986 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Monday, November 23, 2015, was a day that will continue to linger in his memory for a long time to come. It was the day this world renowned literary giant was honoured by the Osun state government, when a N750 million school was named after him in Ejigbo.
The edifice, Wole Soyinka Government High School, could not have been named after any other person than Prof. Soyinka, who was appointed by Gov. Rauf Aregbesola on assumption of office to chair the 1st education summit to be organised in the state.
It would be recalled that two months after assumption of office, Aregbesola organized a world-class education summit to chart a new way forward in the educational sector of the state in conformity with the evolving global trends.
The summit, which was chaired by Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, had in attendance other veteran stakeholders who proffered solutions to the perennial problems being experienced in the country and Osun in particular.
Stakeholders agreed on having three structures of basic education that is elementary, middle and high rather than the existing primary, junior and secondary levels. A comprehensive overhaul of physical and human component of the education system was also recommended.
Notable members of the Summit Include: Prof Wole Soyinka, the Chairman of the Education Summit, Prof Peter Okebukola, Dr Akin Fapohunda, Dr Isaac Agboola, Prof Sola Adeyeye, Me Lere Osundina and State Government Functionaries of the State of Osun.
At the closing ceremony of the summit, governor Aregbesola said his administration will resolve the crisis in the education sector by using the outcome of the summit as a road map to achieving the solution. Represented by the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Grace Laoye-Tomori, Aregbesola said that the recommendations of experts at the summit would be used as guidelines to move the education sector forward.
“I want to assure you that the governor is consumed with passion to implement the valuable outcome of this summit. It is certain that the communique issued at the end of this summit will serve as a road map for resolving the apparent crisis in the education sector,” he said.
Also, the Aragbiji of Iragbiji, Oba Abdulrasheed Olabomi, called on the state government to establish an education trust fund that can assist in strengthening the financing mechanism of the education sector. He suggested that to finance the trust fund, a statutory percentage should be deducted from government contracts.
Olabomi, while commending the state government for organising the summit, also decried the poor state of school administration in the state, noting that the education sector should be one of the priorities of any government. He noted that the summit was aimed at providing opportunities for stakeholders to address the rot in the sector and to also proffer workable solutions to them.
Also, while delivering a paper titled, “The Role of Stakeholders in Educational Development of Osun State,” Director of Aflon Digital Institute, Abuja, Dr. Akin Fapohunda, said for public schools to be put in proper shape, the state government needs to promptly implement the mechanism of the Parent-Teachers Association as an instrument of state policy for the management of all its schools.
He added that all public schools should be made to immediately reconstitute their respective PTAs across the state and a model constitution should be worked out to guide their operation.
Another speaker, Dr. Isaac Agboola, who spoke on, “Strategy for Improving Special Education Programmes in Osun State,” urged the government to increase and strengthen efforts to improve educational, economic and social empowerment for pupils with disabilities in the state.
The outcome of the summit was the reclassification of schools in the state which gave birth to elementary, middle and high schools, introduction of school feeding programme for pupils in elementary 1-4, recruitment of teachers in core subjects, control school uniform and distribution of “Opon Imo”.
Aregbesola administration had already put in place for use world class facilities for 14 Elementary Schools, 15 Middle Schools and 11 High Schools with all the modern tools to aid learning.
The gigantic project named after Wole Soyinka has the following facilities to mention but a few: 72 Classrooms of 49 square-meters each capable of sitting 49 students, (Fully furnished), 6 offices for study groups, 6 Laboratories (Fully furnished), 18 toilets for young ladies, 18 toilets for young men, 1 science library (Fully furnished), 1 art library (Fully furnished), 1 facility manager’s office, 1 bookshop and a sick bay.
It also has 1 bursar’s office, 3 principals’ office (tastefully furnished), 3 general staff offices, 1 senior principal’s office (Furnished), 1 Record store, 1 security shed/reception, a total of 1000square-meters of floor space hall capable of siting 1000 students for external exams.
Other facilities include: storage for equipment, and utility storage, a stage office space, storage for documents, 4 female toilets, 4 male toilets, borehole, and transformer to ensure uninterrupted power supply.
Besides, the project also considered appropriately facilities that makes a complete school which include: Olympic sized football field, 7 lane sprinting tracks for 100 meters and 400meters with pavilion, outdoor basketball court that doubles as lawn tennis court and ample parking space for more than 75 cars.
The new school, is a magnificent three-in-one school, which has the capacity for 3,000 pupils. It was the first of its category in the mega schools series under the education reform programme of this government. The Nobel Laureate described the school as a emphatic rejection of what Boko Haram insurgents preach; describing the situation where the country till date still cannot account for the missing Chibok girls as a shame.
Soyinka enjoined leaders in the country to ensure that children are brought up with a feeling that one religion is not superior to the other. He stated that all hands must be on deck to see to it that children in schools are not differentiated along religious lines for a better Nigeria.
Prof. Soyinka commended Governor Aregbesola for doing a great job with the construction of the school, saying he is elated that such honour is bestowed on him, pledging that he will not hesitate to frequent the school to see how it is faring.