PROF. as the state celebrates her 27th anniversary; can you say that the present administration has performed well in education sector?
Well, I also give credit to the past governors of Anambra State who have done their beat. Government is about continuity. Chief Willie obiano, since he came into office in March 17, 2014, has been a pillar of support in education sector. I can say with every sense of responsibility that I have never seen a governor who has passion for education the way he does. To him, education is a key enabler that would not just help to drive the four pillars (Agriculture, Trade and Commerce, Oil and Gas and Industrialisation),
but is equally a prop upon which the pillars would stand. The stronger education is as an enabler, the stronger the pillars would be. He therefore, developed in his blue print the strategic objectives of education in the state and one of the key objectives is to ensure that the learning needs of all are met through equitable distribution of resources, learning of life-long skills and ensuring that the state is one of the three top states with the lowest illiteracy rate.
Before I took over as the Commissioner for Education in 2014, he already had a clear vision of what he wants in education sector. This strategic objective brings to bear the way he wants the sector to be driven. He said that no child should be left behind; that he will give ‘umuakwukwo’ndi Anambra education that is globally competitive and we have been meeting that global competitiveness.
On Monday, the state will be welcoming, recognizing and eulogizing the five girls from the state, students of Regina Pacies Secondary School, Onitsha, who went for Technovation education pitching competition in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, US and beat the world bodies-the Chiness, Japanese, USA and others to win a gold medal because they developed an Application that can detect fake drugs.
It is amazing and a very big achievement for His Excellency. Last year, an Anambra State teacher, Okodo Clement, won the overall best teacher in Nigeria and received a brand new vehicle from President Buhari. Anambra Students beat the Singaporean Katong Convent School in the first Nigeria- Singaporean Debate in January, 2016. We have won in Nigeria for three consecutive times the best debate champions for the junior team. These are investments of Chief Willie Obiano in growing Anambra education that is globally competitive.
In 2015, Lorretto Special Science School, Adazi-Nnukwu, won the overall best senior secondary school, Queen of Rosary College, Onitsha, won the best junior secondary school in Nigeria. These things are not a matter of chance. They are things that have been well planned, not in a haphazard manner but in a very systematic manner.
What have we not done? We understand that education is about ideology-what you believe, you profess and what you profess, you do. So when the governor came on board, the first thing he did during the retreat of the EXCO members and political appointees, was to develop what is called the ten shared values ‘Okwukwem dịka onye Anambra’.
This is what have been popularised in our schools which include; making a positive impact on everyone I meet and everywhere I go, to be the solution provider and not part of the problem, to consciously build a great legacy starting now, today and every day, to strive to make my family, my state; nation and my God proud.
Consistently, both in the remotest part of Anambra State, you see people chanting it. This is the ideology we want to profess. When the governor received that team of girls that went to Silicon Valley before they left for the competition, he charged the girls, “go and get the gold as the ‘oyibo’ people don’t have two heads. You have to make us proud”.
For us, education is viewed from three point areas- infrastructure, students’ welfare and teachers’ welfare. It is on record that this is one government that has consistently promoted teachers, paid their salaries on time and consistently giving incentives for teachers of core subjects, giving them allowances, and people who reside in the rural areas receive 20% of their basic salaries, in addition to their main salaries.
This government has for the first time, sent 23 teachers and education officers to Singapore to learn the Singaporean model of technical education. This government has been faithful to ndi Anambra as far as education is concerned. It has also removed tuition fee for the technical and vocational education students, for the children to learn what is called hands on experience to reduce the rate of unemployment in the society. The state has partnership with World Bank and other world bodies. These interventions are used to improve the technical know-how of the students.
In terms of infrastructure, a visit to our schools will explain to you that we have moved from where we were to where we are now in the area of infrastructural development such as; renovation, equipping of laboratories, retooling of the science laboratories. About 60 schools were retooled and other ones are starting. We have commenced fencing of all the technical colleges, landscaping some of them. These are geared towards making our schools friendly to the children and ensure their safety.
When we assumed office in 2014, the state WAEC exam was 65% – that is those who scored credits in English and Mathematics. Now, we have moved to 75% and I am sure we will reach 80%.
We have fought examination malpractice, stopped miracle and magic centres and ensured that our children are proud to be light of the nation and can defend their certificates. In 2017, WAEC wrote a letter to the state which I captioned ‘Our Joy Letter”, commending Anambra for the credible conduct of the state’s WAEC Examination. When we came in, we were about 10.94% on the rate of examination malpractice but we have about 5.5%.
How do you handle cultism in schools?
Cultism has been a challenge to the state but we have kept on drilling our children. We are working with NDLEA, CHAPOL the fight against drug abuse and have curbed some of the ill practices. In the educational anthem, we chant it and say ‘no’ to exam malpractice, drug abuse, and say that hard work is a great legacy, diligence a coveted virtue, our shared values.
We must embrace, cleanliness is next to Godliness. Together, we say ‘no’ to cultism, ‘no’ to drug and exam malpractice, ‘no’ to miracle centres and indiscipline. We are drilling the song into our children to see the importance of not being in cultism because it ends up destroying one.
What is the percentage of boys in Anambra schools?
The number of males in our schools has greatly improved, though it’s not the same in areas like Ayamelum, Ogbaru, Anambra East and West but the government is working assiduously to ensure that the number improves. The state government has started constructing adult education centres in any new market built in the state to ensure that every male in Anambra is literate.
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