The education sector in Akwa Ibom state has seen monumental strides owing to the free, compulsory and qualitative education scheme where the cost of education in Primary and Secondary school is free.
Governor Udom Emmanuel is committed to achieving a globally competitive workforce, in a world that is increasingly being shaped by technology.
There are 1401 public primary, secondary and technical schools, 895 private nursery, primary and secondary schools and four tertiary institutions which are supervised by the Governor’s special assistants to ensure compliance with the curriculum, education policies and world best practices. In the same vein, the government has set up ICT laboratories in some of the public and private schools, point of factly, the education sector has witnessed great improvement under the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
The free and compulsory education programme gives every child of school age resident in Akwa Ibom, regardless of state of origin, access to qualitative education from primary to senior secondary school level. In addition to free tuition, the state pays a subvention of N100 per primary school pupil and N300 per secondary school students per term to cater for logistics. With over one million five hundred thousand students enrolment in public schools has tripled since the introduction of the programme.
To add quality to the free and compulsory education, Government has also created a more conducive learning environment through massive rehabilitation and reconstruction of school blocks, provision of science and laboratory equipment, construction of hostels and supply of desks in the 31 LGAs in the state.
As a way of ensuring that final year secondary school students are not constrained by lack of money, the government undertakes payment of WASSCE fees for all students in public secondary schools. This also includes payment of NABTEB fees for all students in public technical colleges.
Against the backdrop of speculations by some unscrupulous individuals that the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel may discontinue with the free and Compulsory education policy, which gives every child in the state equal opportunity to qualitative education from primary to secondary school level; the Governor used the occasion of the 2016 Solemn Assembly of the state to announce his utmost resolve to continue the free and compulsory education programme and improve on the quality.
The Governor has ensured the provision of an enabling environment to motivate both the teachers, pupils and students for optimal performance and output as well as attract investors to boost the sector.
His achievements in addition to the on-going free and compulsory education policy for all children in the state, from primary school to the senior secondary school level include;
consultations with stakeholders in public and private tertiary institutions, to streamline, re-position and stabilize the school system, prompt payment of teachers salaries, training of Principals and teachers on new educational curriculum, teaching methodologies etcetera,
dialogue with Unions in the state tertiary institutions to stem labour unrest, signing of Memorandum of Understanding, (MOU) with Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) with specific mandate to promote widespread availability and usage of telecommunication and ICT services in the state plus promotions, conversions and confirmation for deserving teaching and non-teaching staff.
To aid monitoring and evaluation of the quality of education proffered for the actualization of the free and compulsory education scheme the Governor appointed a senior special assistant and three special assistants who work tirelessly to make sure teachers give their best to reciprocate the good gesture of paying them salaries every month; promptly and as at when due
In a recent interaction with this reporter, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Education Monitoring, Mrs. Idongesit Etiebet, revealed that Governor Emmanuel is very passionate about the education sector and the quality of education our children are receiving.
“The State Governor, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, is very passionate about the education sector and the quality of education our children are receiving. As it is rightly said, the Free and Compulsory Education is on-going, this means that the government pays tuition fees and takes care of the bills of the general running of events in public schools. A feat achieved, through payment of subvention to Heads of schools based on the student population.
She referenced a recent education Summit held in September 2016 ordered by the Governor that witnessed the convergence of parents, pastors, religious organizations, schools head , teachers , traditional rulers n other stakeholders to brainstorm on how to improve the quality of education and the need for parents, communities, organizations and other well meaning citizens to be more involved in the amelioration of the sector and stated It was well received and very effective.
On the issue of renovation of schools, Mrs. Etiebet hinted that dilapidated classrooms in schools across the state are undergoing massive renovation even as Government has distributed desks to students within the last one year. Also,the Governor has intervened in schools across the state whereby many school structures have been renovated and new structures constructed in some schools across the state.
“If you go round, you will see them and we have the before and after pictures of these schools. In terms of infrastructures and human capital development Governor Udom has done well , notably he has renovated schools through Inter-Ministerial projects in over one hundred Schools across the state, about 20% are entirely new structures and the rest are renovations.” She added.
The desire of the Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration is to produce a workforce that can compete globally thus, the introduction of ICT in schools across the state. In this regard, the Senior Special Assistant said “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an integral inclusion in today’s educational sector, some schools in the state have functional computer laboratories.
“The project is on-going, It is something the government cannot do alone, Just recently Governor Udom distributed laptop computers to schools and kitted some ICT Labs both In public and private schools , it is worthy of note that all technical schools across the state have ICT laboratories, more of this will happen in a few months to come. she called on good spirited individuals, multinationals, NGOs and all to take a cue from Samsung NIGERIA who recently donated 150 laptop Computers to Uyo High School and have promised to do same in nine more schools.
“We have adequate number of teachers, more will be added. The workforce should be enough if most of them deploy themselves to where they should be at the right time, “Etiebet said.
The SSA lauded the efforts of most of the teachers in the state, who are giving their best to complement Government’s effort, she however called on teachers who are recalcitrant to sit up or face sanctions. She thanked some parents, guardians and care-givers for their support for the free and compulsory education and advised all parents to be more involved
” it is noticeable that most of the times we go out for education monitoring, some parents tend to care less about the welfare of their children, as much as government is providing free and compulsory education it is the place of a parent to care for and guide their growing child therefore people must learn to see education as an investment rather than an expense, they must be concerned with the day to day preparation of their wards for school and understand that supervising their home work and aiding them is their responsibility, not that of the government.
“When one sends a child to school; he gets trained and acquires skills, what he or she will do with the skills they acquire is a positive evolving experience.
The Governor is industrializing the state: setting up companies, industries, training the youths in various areas of the economy etcetera, these companies will require technical expertise in the future therefore, It is an investment at the end of the day our children will become skilful and useful to man these facilities. It is highly evident that the investment Governor Udom is making will definitely yield fruits and we won’t have to import manpower to the state.”
She commended the Wife of the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State , Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel who has shown commitment in Shaping the minds of the Akwa Ibom girl-child, who she describes as an asset to a family and a vehicle for societal growth through her pet project called Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Programme (FEYRep)
” ‘Girls Uphold Your Dignity’ is a sensitization campaign that advocates for complete abstinence from premarital sex which is responsible for unwanted pregnancies and health hazards Our First Lady has ceaselessly stressed that mothers should take responsibilities to inculcate good values in their children, especially the girl-child. She added
Mrs Udom’s tour to various schools in the state was accompanied by the distribution of education materials such as notebooks, textbooks, school bags, school boxes and toiletries to children under the project ‘Back to School’, an appendage of the FEYREP scheme.
Mrs Etiebet was full of praises for the Udom Emmanuel-led administration for prompt payment of salaries, subventions, and examination fees and also used the opportunity to call on the entire Akwa Ibom citizenry to keep supporting the Udom Emmanuel-led administration, as it is committed to fulfilling all its campaign promises, irrespective of the present economic challenges.