By Oladipo Olalere
If we remarked that the foundation of Ogun State was laid on education, we would not be wrong as the first Nigerian professors from the fields of Philosophy, Paediatric, Psychiatry, Agriculture, Medicine, Nursing, Linguistics and so on are from Ogun State. And the first African to win a Nobel prize in Literature? Yes! If we continued that the administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun has a soft spot for education and has, in many ways which would be proven in what follows, improved the state of education and teaching in Ogun State, we would be right.
The livewire of any nation at all is education.
Therefore, at every point in time, a nation stands between education and destruction. A nation survives and triumphs on promoting its quality education and it dies and perishes on neglecting its education. Education is life; ignorance is death. And this serves the main reason Prince Dapo Abiodun has decided to resuscitate, in Ogun, the excellence and eminence that is attached to education in the developed parts of the world.
On Tuesday, 5 October 2021, World Teacher’s Day was celebrated within and around the globe but it took another commendable and elated dimension in Ogun State as a result of the activity of Prince Dapo Abiodun where he approved the immediate release of engagement letters to successful candidates of the Ogun Teach Programme to relieve the workload of teachers in the state, just as he also noted that he has approved the establishment of the Ogun State Education Intervention Fund (OGSEIF) to achieve improved funding for the educational sector of the state. Similarly, he announced the allocation of lands to the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) and Association of Primary School for their secretariats, Headteachers of Nigeria (AOPSHON) for the construction of their secretariats in the state.
Here is a government, on the assumption of office some 28 months ago, that ordered the release of promotion letters to deserving primary and secondary school teachers who are due for promotion between 2016 and 2017; the process of supplying new furniture to all primary and secondary schools for the use of learners to cushion the effects of acute shortage of furniture in our Schools is on-going; rehabilitation of over 956 classrooms in our primary and secondary Schools; upgrading of 42 of our Secondary Schools to Flagship Schools for better performance and productivity, and he gave the approval for the commencement of Ogun Digitalized Multimedia Lesson Plan where the teachers would be equipped with the wherewithal resources for effective delivery in line with global standards.
It is noteworthy that Prince Dapo Abiodun’s administration is working in collaboration with a non-profit organisation, and has integrated 100 Fellows into Teach for Nigeria Programme.
Also, it has successfully introduced the Pre-Shaded Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) objective answer sheet for the conduct of Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE); a 50% increase in feeding allowance for learners in Special Needs Schools; full sponsorship of public school students to all academic competitions; resuscitation and relocation of Ogun State Braille Book Production Centre which has been moribund for many years; annual distribution of wheelchairs to the Special Needs Learners; commencement of the renovation of all the five Special Needs Schools in the State including the provision of modern toilet facilities; approval of scholarships for outstanding students in all our tertiary institutions; approval for the establishment of Ogun State Education Intervention Fund (OGSEIF) to achieve improved funding; reinstatement / Appointment of Headmaster/ Principal General— all of the aforementioned had been done in the last 28 months. If we call it a government that operates on productivity, meticulousness, speed and accuracy, we would be on point!
Dr Ben Carson, the author of “Gifted Hands”, reports that one of the orientalists said: “If you want to destroy the civilization of a nation, there are three ways of doing so: destroy the family structure, destroy education and lower the role models.” It is self-evident that teachers are the ladder that children and students climb to a bright future. If the ladder is wobbly, the outcome is woeful. Therefore, the best way to destroy a nation is to destroy its education.
To destroy education, you should give no importance to the Teacher and lower his place in society so that students despise him. Against the destruction of education and the debasing treatment of teachers, it is clear that this administration is working to restore the glorious days where teachers enjoy a pride of place in our society.
For the primary and secondary school teachers, society treats them with scorn. We are living at a time when not just the society despises teachers, their own students humiliate and mock them.
The combination of ridiculing teachers is symptomatic of the general trend where abnormality becomes the norm. People and students waste no time these days in demeaning their teachers, making them feel worthless just because those teachers are decent enough to live on their meagre salaries.
This is one of the dark sides of teaching that has permeated our society, and it is one thing Prince Dapo Abiodun has been tirelessly working to eliminate in Ogun State.
As a result of that, one of the icings on the cake of the celebration of World Teacher’s Day in Ogun State was the showers of gifts on teachers in order to clean up their tears.
Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, yesterday, rewarded the best teachers in the state with cash prizes ranging from 1million Naira to 2million Naira; and the governor equally gifted a semi-detached bungalow to the best overall teacher for the year 2020 in the state.
He remarked that he had done that because the State must continue to attract bright-minded young teachers to the teaching profession so that they will not miss the young creative minds who will become great educators and build both the state and the country in the near future. In other words, the Ogun State government is one that is focused on youths, their academics and the cultivation of brilliant minds.
In his attitude of appreciating education and brilliance, on Thursday 22 April 2021, Prince Dapo Abiodun splashed a two-bedroom bungalow and a sum of N2million on Oladimeji Sotunde, an indigene of the state who emerged as the Overall Best Graduating Student of the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos.
Similarly, he pledged that his administration would set up an Education Endowment Fund with a seed money of N5million in honour of Faith Odunsi, a student of the Ambassadors College, Ota, who emerged winner in the Global Open Mathematics Tournament.
All of the aforementioned made him clinched the awards as the best Education friendly Governor by All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) in the South-West and Best Governor in the Educational Sector by the National Parents Teachers Association.
Clearly, in education, like many other aspects, the administration is making laudable progress and it is an attestation to the gigantic status of Ogun State as both the Education capital (of) and the intellectual melting-pot in Nigeria. Education remains one of the biggest industries in Ogun State.
It is the revival of workshops, seminars and other training programmes for teaching and non-teaching staff of the state public schools— to enhance their efficiency and productivity— that has led to the significant feedback that is visible in the State’s Education Sector through the recent exploits of the State’s young academic laureates where: Ogun State contingent won 11 laurels in different categories of awards in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Ogun State Institute of Technology (OGITECH) also won the best compliant Institution in Nigeria to the tune of N75 Million from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) amongst other things.
In all, as depicted by the programmes and policies of the state which is evident in the results that emerge daily, it appears that the administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun is confident that to rescue education, a nation must prioritise teachers’ welfare and one way of doing this is by paying them joyful salaries, hold them in high esteem and reward them for jobs well done and example of the gifts he rolled out yesterday.
Research has shown that the better teachers are prioritised, the higher the outcomes achieved by students. Conversely, poor attitude towards teachers also results in poor student performance and education structure because poorly treated teachers lack motivation and passion for work. And this is what the administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun stands to eliminate.