ACCORDING to Governor Okowa:”Studies have shown that there is brain drain in the teaching profession and one of the decisions we took at the Education Summit we had in 2016 was to establish a Teachers’ Professional Development Centre for the training and retraining of teachers in the state as well as improvement on their efficiency and knowledge base.”
The Centre which has ICT Centres, Libraries, Laboratories, Conference Rooms, Hostels, Cafeteria and a Skill Acquisition Centre has the capacity to train 1,500 persons at a time, and will help to retool, upgrade, train and retrain teachers to meet extant and future challenges as well as improve the quality of teachers in the state at all levels.
Growing population and infrastructural needs: With the establishment of 48 additional public schools from 2015 to date, Delta State now has a total of 1,126 public primary schools and 466 public secondary schools, one of the highest in the country. However, the provision of a conducive environment for teaching and learning is critical to the enthronement of quality education. This made it imperative for the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education to embark on the renovation and construction of classrooms, science laboratories and administrative blocks.
Between 2015 and now, the following interventions were made: construction of 1,251 classrooms, renovation of 2,225 classrooms, supply of 115,102 students’ furniture, supply of18,131 teachers’ furniture and the construction of 39 administrative blocks. Others are renovation of 27 administrative blocks, construction of 12 science laboratory blocks, renovation of 64 science laboratory blocks, construction of 29 block wall fence and the renovation of 18 block wall fence.
As a result of the ability of the state government to pay her counterpart fund to Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUPEB, was able to access the commensurate marching grant.
This made it possible for the Board to construct/renovate 2,337 classrooms, supply of 35,294 pupils’ desks, supply of 7,354 teachers’ furniture, construction/renovation of 93 perimeter fencing and corresponding gatehouses, construction of 79 solar powered boreholes, construction of 271 modern toilets as well as several ongoing projects to facilitate teaching and learning in public primary schools in the state.
Presently, contract for the production of 3,800 students’/pupils’ furniture and 1,250 for teachers’ furniture in Delta Central Senatorial District, 3,868 students’/pupils’ furniture and 240 teachers’ furniture for Delta South Senatorial District and 4,800 students’/pupils’ furniture and 500 teachers’ furniture for Delta North Senatorial District have been awarded. In addition, contract for the supply of 1,000 student’s/pupils’ furniture and 100 teacher’s furniture for Warri Federal Constituency and 2,350 student’s/pupils’ furniture and 290 teacher’s furniture for State Capital Territory have also been awarded.
Infrastructural audit of public schools: Because of the deteriorating nature of public schools and inadequate funding, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in September 2019, commissioned a comprehensive school infrastructural audit and mapping of all public primary and post primary schools in the state. Ukah while explaining the imperative of the exercise noted that it will guide government in taking deeper and critical overview of its infrastructural inputs, adding that it will help in identifying shortfalls and possible gaps which would redirect its focus to untouched areas of infrastructural needs by the schools during the current tenure of this administration. Ukah further stated that the perceived gap is not due to inaction on the part of government but the large number of public schools and the long years of abandonment contrary to information peddled on social media, adding that government in its commitment to promoting educational standards in the state, has extended the intervention beyond infrastructural developments with the recruitment of one thousand teachers recently.
He said that given the large number of public schools in the state and the various other competing demands in the social sector of the economy, no one would rightly expect that all schools would be attended to simultaneously by government, adding that intervention programmes are executed in phases until the entire the state is covered.
According to the Basic and Secondary Education Commissioner, at the end of the school infrastructural audit and mapping project, critical challenges would be identified which will inform government policies and actions in addressing the issues of duplication of projects, skewness in project locations, poor school database management and documentation, and economic wastages. The exercise, which was awarded to an international research company with renowned pedigree in census and infrastructural audit, AC Nielsen, but the report is not yet received by the ministry.
While awaiting the report, scooping has already been done for the development of infrastructure at Emadadaja Primary School and Adadja Secondary School both in Udu Local Government Area.
Once the report of the scooping is ready, the Bill of Quantity, BoQ, will be forwarded to the Governor for approval. Okowa’s vision for education has an inclusive dimension designed to increase access to quality education. To this extent, he is opening up centres for non-formal secondary school education in the state to ensure that every individual is given equal access to education.
Target beneficiaries are children who have no opportunity of continuing their education after primary school. By this move, the governor has created a new opportunity for an increased number of people to go to school. Beyond ensuring improved quality of school leavers, Governor Okowa has initiated an elaborate programme of entrenching entrepreneurial culture among the youth in the state after graduating from various institutions of higher learning.
This represents a fundamental approach to addressing the problem of high rate of unemployment among university graduates in Nigeria and the resulting social evils arising from joblessness.