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Engaging alumni associations in upliftment of education facilities in Anambra Schools

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THE United Nation’s moral suasion to developing economies like Nigeria to be setting aside at least twenty six per cent of their annual budgets for education has not been accomplished due to failure to accord education top priority in development. To say that progressive falling standard of education has affected human capacity building and socio-economic growth and development, is merely stating the obvious.

Failure to meet up with adequate funding of education at all levels has led to industrial actions in institutions of higher learning. The ongoing ASUU prolonged strike has devastating impact and the end is not in sight.

It is against this backdrop that the alumni of some schools in Anambra State have done marvelously in providing infrastructure, such as class-rooms, hostels, bore-holes, skill acquisition facilities, gates in their Alma Mater. Their avowal is to encourage the state government in its extraordinary efforts in raising the infrastructure profiles of the schools which has made the state to come tops in national competitions and winning of laurels.

Last December, the Old Girls Association of Ide Girls School, Enugwu-Ukwu,Njikoka LGA, came to the school and pledged to provide certain educational facilities. In November, the Old Boys Association of Igwebuike Grammar school, Awka, Awka South LGA, had Jubilee celebration and erected exquisitely beautiful gate for the school, among other educational infrastructure to the delight of the state government.

At the same time, the Old Boys Association of St John’s College, Alor, [now science and technical school] marked its 60 years of existence. The event was used to commission many educational infrastructural facilities like a storey building for class rooms, bore-hole, technical and science block with equipment, among other facilities.

The monumental projects undertaken and completed at record time by the alumni association became a great testimony for people who have made it in life to give back to the society.

A retired accountant from Anambra State Civil Service and old boy of the school, Chief Edwin Ngige, said that they would continue to execute educational projects to make the place the best science and technical school in the country. It also highlighted the stark realities staring the country in the face that government cannot fund qualitative education alone and needs interventions from all quarters.

The civil war which took its toll on the school’s infrastructural and facilities took many years for the state government to make it conducive for learning and skill acquisition. The story of Alor Boys’ Secondary School is peculiar, hence the special attention given to it by the Anambra State Government, through Governor Chris Ngige, now Minister of Labour and Employment, Peter Obi, the PDP vice presidential candidate, and the ebullient Dr. Wilie Obiano, Akpokuedike.

In a calculated attempt to reclaim the lost value of discipline in schools and clamour for the return of private and missionary schools to their owners, Senator Chris Ngige, an old boy of the school, put the legal machinery in motion via “Anambra State Technical/Vocational and Science Education Board Establishment Law of 2006”. The lot fell on Governor Peter Obi to actualize the idealistic move which has yielded great dividends with Anambra State rising to stardom in secondary schools competitions, even to the extent of garnering global accolades. In other words, Anambra state became a show-piece in the country’s educational aspirations.

St. John’s Decondary School, Alor, was one of the beneficiaries of hand-over but the rate of infrastructural development did not impress the old boys. The Principal of the school, Mr. Samuel Otubah, captured the unflattering scenario as follows:

“The period between late 1990’s and 2007 saw another unfortunate retrogression in our school system. There was total neglect of schools in terms of provisions. All the reconstructions and rehabilitation of the post war period started collapsing like park of cards.

Teachers became disenchanted, more so when their purchasing power was nothing to write home about. At a point ,government asked teachers to use part of working hours to make ends meet, hence, giving license for irresponsibility in the school system”.

Recounting a brief history of old boys intervention in uplifting the infrastructure profile of St. John’s Alor, Otubah said: “Some notable old boys came on rescue mission.Senator Chris Ngige, Dr. Emeka Eze, Dr. CM Afunugo, Chief Emeka Ngige, Chief Peter Pan Okafor, and a host of others made great sacrifices in transformation of St. John when it was needed most; ranging from renovation of hostels, staff quarters, attraction of federal government to build a block that houses basic laboratories and class rooms; tarring of gateway to the school compound, renovation of principal’s quarter; and fencing of the frontage was initiated”.

In his welcome address, the National President of St. John’s Alor Old Boys Association, a renowned medical practitioner,  Dr C.M. Afunugo, commended Alor community for their great vision in founding the post primary education institution which has blazed the trail in technical and skill acquisition profiles.

He went down memory lane on his sojourn in the school by quoting the prime importance of education in the realization of man’s divine destiny according to Lewi. According to him, “Education is man’s ability to acquire and critically evaluate the civilization of past, participate constructively in the civilization of the present and lay the foundations for the civilization of the future. It really reflects the trinity of time-the past, the present and the future”.

“I believe we are therefore doing very well, as in this Jubilee celebration, the old boys are here today interacting with the current students with a view of solving some of their problems for the betterment of their future. I am proud to state herewith that since Gen. Yakubu Gowon created states in Nigeria, this part of the country was poorly governed till an old boy mounted the saddle of leadership in the state. His Excellency, Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige OON, was able to provide an all season access road to our school and Alor community, establishing the best asphalted road in a rural communit.

“Another Old Boy who helped in uplifting the aesthetic look of the college is Engr. Emeka Eze, who attracted President Umaru Musa Yar’dua to give huge sums of money used in the perimeter fencing of the school compound. With the return of the schools to the missions, there has been rapid development in St. John’s Science and Technical school… our refectory was renovated and extended by His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Valarian Okeke, the Archbishop of Onitsha”.

One of the highlights of the celebration was a display of the architectural drawing masterpiece of high-rise building and estate by students which confirmed the great vision of Governor Chris Ngige and the continued pride of place given to technical education by Governors Peter Obi and Dr. Wilie Obiano.

It is pertinent to commend the philanthropic gestures of Old Boys Associations in Anambra State. Last month, the Old Boys Association of Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka, celebrated its Jubilee with unveiling an entrance gate costing millions of naira which gave the school an aesthetic outlook.

St. John’s College Alor has really produced people who by dint of hard-work have achieved greatness in private and public life. The three eminent Ngige brothers viz:, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, Eddy Ngige, a retired director of accounts in Anambra State Civil Service, and Emeka Ngige SAN,

including Emeka Eze were remarkable indeed in terms of their individual and collective passionate contributions to the infrastructural facilities in the college in particular and Alor community in general, hence the joking reference to the town as “Alor London” because of urban facilities that transformed the lives of the people.

The great vision to transform the school into a science and technical institution by Governor Chris Ngige was in line with the educational achievements of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, with reference to science and technical education. Gongbeat Kenugbechie in his column wrote inter alia:

“Delta which budded off from the old Bendel State is fast regaining its lost glory in sports and academic excellence especially technical education. Okowa’s government is planting technical and vocational schools across the state. The intendment is to create a pool of job creators and problem solvers as against a battalion of job seekers”.

In a brief write-up in the Diamond Jubilee Brochure, Chief Patrick Okeke Eivoue traced the motivation of Anambra State Government in laying emphasis on science and technical education. He said:

“Government of Anambra State was motivated to establish more technical colleges in pursuance of the then State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy [SEEDS], encapsulated in the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy [NEEDS] derived from the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs].

The National Policy on Education [2004] had also mandated the federal government of Nigeria to establish at least a federal science and technical college in each state and federal capital territory, Abuja. States were mandated to establish in each local government with its jurisdiction, a science and technical college with one of them offering advance courses”.

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